>  Top Christian Tour Destinations in Israel   >  Kursi and the Miracle of the Swine

kursi church

Kursi is a picturesque site on the eastern bank of the Sea of Galilee, at the Golan Heights’s foothill. Discovered by chance in 1967, the site is believed to mark and commemorate Jesus’ Miracle of the Swine.

The Miracle of the Swine

After leaving Nazareth, Jesus settled in Capernaum, from which he traveled to nearby sites. During one of his journeys, Jesus reached a site on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. There a person (or two) possessed by Demonsaccosted him. Jesus caused the demons to occupy a herd of swine. As a response: The herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea. The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country (Mark 5:13-14). The location of this event is unclear, and each of the synoptic Gospels provides a different location. The land of the Gadareans according to Matthew; Geraseans according to Mark; and “Gergseans according to Luke. However, the event did not happen in an area populated by Jews as Jews did not raise pigs.

The Discovery of Kursi

Kursi was discovered by chance after the Six-Day War (June 1967) while constructing a road. As the tractors cleared the way, Mendel Nun, a member of a nearby kibbutz, noticed antiquities surfacing. Mendel persuaded the authorities to halt the work, and an archaeological expedition commenced at the site. Head of the expedition was Vasilios Tsaferis, a Greek monk who became an Israeli archaeologist. In retrospect, it seems like a divine intervention. Of all archaeologists, a former monk will be the one to discover a site associated with one of Jesus’ miracles.

The Archaeological Finds

kursi-chapelKursi proved to be a monastic complex in the 6th century, covering an area of 4 acres. Its main building was a basilica-shaped tri-apsidal church with a baptismal font in its right-side apse. Beneath its atrium, archaeologists found a water reservoir and an oil press in one of its rooms. Mosaics decorated some of the floors, bearing geometric designs. However, the importance of the site lies in the discovery made by Tsaferis in 1980 on the adjacent cliff. As he surveyed the area, he discovered a chapel built in front of a small cave. Tsaferis interpreted this discovery as a chapel for adoration where the “possessed by demons” person dwelt.

Touring Kursi

Today, Kursi is a national park that welcomes visitors daily from 8:00 to 17:00.  It is a common stop for tourists and pilgrim groups offering a site commemorating one of Jesus’ miracles adjacent to the serene shores of the Sea of Galilee.

A tour of Kursi can be combined with a guided day tour of the Galilee.

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