Archaeologists believe they’ve discovered the house of Saint Peter.

During excavations of a site in El Araj near the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, they uncovered a large Greek inscription with a prayer for intercession by the “chief and commander of the heavenly apostles.” The inscription also mentions a donor called “Constantine, a servant of Christ.”

The inscription is framed in a black medallion and surrounded with floral patterns, forming the floor of the ancient church’s sacristy.

The El Araj Excavation Project dig team led by Steven Notley and Mordechai Aviam called it “the ‘smoking gun.'”

“Not only did we find significant remains from this period, but we also found this important church and the monastery around it. This discovery is our strongest indicator that Peter had a special association with the basilica, and it was likely dedicated to him.

Since Byzantine Christian tradition routinely identified Peter’s home in Bethsaida, and not in Capernaum as is often thought today, it seems likely that the basilica commemorates his house.”

The finding apparently confirms the 8th century account by Saint Willibald of his journey in the Holy Land, who wrote of a church built over the house of Peter and Andrew:

“And from Capernaum they went to Bethsaida, from which came Peter and Andrew. There is now a church where previously was their house.”

Notley says they’re confident they’ve found the biblical city of Bethsaida and the “Church of the Apostles” written about by Willibald.

The dedicatory inscription with the entreaty for prayer by Simon Peter is very important for identifying the Apostle’s association with the Byzantine basilica.

I think this is clear evidence that the site we’re excavating is the church referred to by St. Willibald as the church built over the house of St. Peter and Andrew.

It confirms the testimony of the eighth century Bishop Willibald, who visited the church, that Christianity in the Byzantine period commemorated the house of St. Peter at Bethsaida and not at Capernaum.

This strengthens our argument that it should be considered the leading candidate for first century Bethsaida.” 

The team’s next excavation starts in October, where they will completely uncover and clean the rest of the church in hopes of finding more inscriptions.

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