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Established in 1855, the Sisters of Nazareth Convent is in the heart of old Nazareth, just 100 feet west of the Church of Annunciation. Some believe archaeological discoveries made under the convent related to Jesus’ home in Nazareth in Roman times.

History and Archaeology of the Sisters of Nazareth Convent

In the mid-19th century, nuns arriving from France established a new order, The Sisters of Nazareth, in Nazareth. They bought several shops near the Church of Annunciation and began building a convent. Various archaeological discoveries were made during the development, which were researched in several stages.

Following a survey and review of previous archaeological reports, in 2020, archaeologist Ken Dark published a new research on the site. He suggests that in the first century a family lived here in a house with a courtyard. The area became a cemetery shortly after, perhaps still in the first century, as attested in a Jewish-style burial cave with several burial niches (kokhim) and a rolling stone. Later, in the Byzantine period, Christians built a church over the site. It had three apses, a mosaic floor, and wall decorations. Dark believes this might be the “Church of Nutrition” described by a 7th Century CE pilgrim visiting Nazareth:

“.It [i.e. Nazareth] has, however, large stone buildings, and there are two very large churches, one in the centre of the city raised on two piles, where once upon a time was the house in which the Lord, our saviour, was brought up. This church then, as has been said above, is supported upon two mounds with arches between, and there is a very clear fountain underneath, between the mounds. ” (De Locis Sanctis II:26).

The Site in Crusaders Times

During the 12th century the Crusaders added a stairway into the church, which became underground. Dark concludes that one should consider the possibility that the Holy Family liver in the first-century house with a courtyard. René Salm criticized these conclusions.

Touring the Sisters of Nazareth Convent

The convent is next to the Church of Annunciation but is not open to the general public. A visit to the site is only available by appointment, and visitors are expected to leave a donation.

A tour of the site can be combined in a day tour of the Galilee.

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