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Church of the Primacy of St Peter in Tabgha, Galilee, Israel, Middle East.

Situated along the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, the Church of the Primacy of Peter is a popular Christian pilgrimage destination. By local tradition, Jesus reinstated Peter as the apostles’ leader after his resurrection.

The Biblical Account

The Gospel of John, in chapter 21, recounts a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus by the Sea of Galilee. According to the narrative, Peter and some other disciples had gone fishing, and Jesus appeared to them on the shore. After a miraculous catch of fish, Jesus prepared a meal of grilled fish for them. During this encounter, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him and instructed him to care for his followers.

History of the Church

In the 5th century, the first church was built to commemorate the reaffirmation of Peter’s primacy by Jesus. It was established next to the Sea of Galilee and near the Tabgha church of the Multiplication. The church stood intact up to the 13th century when it was destroyed by the Mamluk ruler Baybars. The renowned Italian architect Antonio Berzluzzi designed the present-day church, which was completed in 1933. Known for his distinctive style, Barluzzi incorporated elements from the ancient church into the new design.

Visiting the Church of the Primacy of Peter

peter primacy churchAdministrated by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, the church welcomes visitors Monday to Saturday, free of charge. The focal point of the church is a rock marked as “The Table of Christ” (Menza Christi). By local tradition, this is where Jesus dined with the Apostles and later reinstated the primacy of Peter. Carved stairs, a rock facing the lake adjacent to the church, are said to be where Jesus stood when the disciples returned from the Sea. The site offers a unique blend of natural beauty, historical significance, and spiritual reflection of Jesus’ teachings and miracles.

“The peaceful surroundings and the historical context of this church encourage a sense of contemplation and reverence.” (Danny “the Digger” Herman)

A visit to the Church of the Primacy of Peter can be combined with a day tour to the Galilee or a Multi-day tour of Israel.

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