Archaeologists in Galilee have unearthed an ancient church said to be built on the home of the Apostles Peter and Andrew in Bethsaida.
“Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter.” – John 1:44
Excavating on the shore of Galilee, Mordechai Aviam of Kinneret Academic College in Israel confirmed the dig known as El-Araj as the site of Bethsaida, the fishing village where Saints Peter and Andrew were born.
“We excavated only one third of the church, a bit less, but we have a church and that’s for sure. The plan is of a church, the dates are Byzantine, the mosaic floors are typical, chancel screens – everything that is typical of a church.”
Aviam discovered a Byzantine-era church near the remains of a Roman settlement, confirming the account of historian Flavius Josephus. The church also confirmed the account of Saint Willibald, who said a church had been built there on the home of Peter and Andrew.
“It’s the historical tradition we possess, and there is no good reason to question it. Between Capernaum and Kursi there is only one place where a church is described by the visitor in the eighth century and we discovered it – no other churches have been found between those two towns – so this is the one.
Next for Aviam is to excavate the remaining 2/3s of the church and hopefully discover an inscription that would tell who it was built for to close the case for good.
“It would be normal to find an inscription in a church of the Byzantine period, describing in whose memory it was built, for instance.”