Situated on the banks of the Sea of Galilee at the foot of the Mt. of Beatitudes, Tabgha is a place with a special significance to the Christian faith. It is traditionally considered the place where the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fishes occurred, as well as the site for Jesus’ fourth resurrection appearance after his crucifixion (John 21:1-24). Now it is home to several churches and a site of pilgrimage for many Christian travelers. Read on to learn what makes Tabgha a special place to visit for anyone interested in the New Testament and the history of Christianity.
Origins of Tabgha
Tabgha, whose name is an Arabic adaptation of the Greek name Heptapegon (“seven springs”), is located on the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee. It is home to the Church of the Multiplication, a Catholic church whose history dates back to 4AD. It houses an ancient mosaic of the fish and loaves, next to a large rock which some speculate is where Jesus stood when he blessed the fish and loaves.
The Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes
According to the book of Matthew in the New Testament, Jesus was given two fish and five loaves of bread. After blessing the food, he multiplied the loaves and fishes so there was enough to feed 5000 hungry people, with enough to fill 12 baskets with leftovers. The famous Byzantine-era mosaic at Tabgha depicts two fish, and a basket containing loaves of bread. This important story in the history of Christianity makes Tabgha a special place to visit. Read our guide to The Footsteps of Jesus in the Galilee to read more about different important locations in the life of Jesus throughout Israel.
Church of the Primacy of St. Peter
Tagbha is also the location of the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter. This church contains a rock where its builder held that Jesus appeared for the fourth time after the Ressurection. The story goes that St John, Peter, and six other disciples went fishing but didn’t catch anything all night. Then, Jesus appeared and told them to change the place of the net, which then caught 153 fish. Once the disciples returned to shores, they found that Jesus had cooked them breakfast on a charcoal fire placed on a rock. This rock is traditionally held to be where resurrected Jesus cooked that breakfast, so it is referred to as Mensa Christ (the table of Christ)
The Best Way to Visit Tabgha
Tabgha is an essential stop on any Christian tour of Israel. It is best to visit it on a trip with nearby stops that are important to Christianity. Going on an organized tour with an expert tour guide can give your visit to Tabgha much meaning and context. It also takes care of the logistics of traveling around Israel, which can be tricky once you venture beyond the major cities. The Galilee, Nazareth, River Jordan and More Tour makes a stop at Tagbha as well as Mt. of Beatitudes, Capernaum, Nazareth, and Yardenit baptismal site. Alternately, the Christian Galilee Tour will visit other stops such as the Wedding Church of Cana, Magdala, and Ginosar. Either way, touring Tabgha with an expert in Christian sites is the ideal way to go!