Nazareth Parish - Church of the Annunciation

Nazareth Parish - Church of the Annunciation
Contact information:

P.O.B. 23
1610001 NAZARETH

Website for the parish:

Tradition says that the Virgin Mary's home is located underneath the towering cupola of the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, where the archangel Gabriel announced to Mary, aged 14 then, that she will carry the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and name Him Jesus.

Specifically, in the lower level of the Church of the Annunciation there is a grotto that contains the traditional cave-home of the Virgin Mary. In  here Mary said: " May it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). And, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

The massice two-storey basilica was built in 1969, and is currently the lagest Christian church in the Middle east. It contains two churches, the upper one being the parish church for Nazareth’s Catholic community.


Cupola as a lily

The cupola, is surmounted by a lantern symbolising the Light of the World.

The plan of two churches, one above the other and interconnected, was conceived by the Italian architect Giovanni Muzio.

As well as preserving the remains of previous churches on the lower level, he allowed for the risk of earthquake by constructing the building in three separate sections of reinforced concrete.

The soaring cupola represents an inverted lily opening its petals to the shrine below. The symbolism combines the lily, as an image of Mary’s purity, with one of the Semitic meanings of the name Nazareth, a flower.

A spiral stairway at the main entrance leads to the large and spacious upper church. This is the parish church for the Catholic community of Nazareth (which is why the inscriptions on the ceramic Stations of the Cross are in Arabic).

The main entrance of the upper church is on the northern side, leading off a large elevated square overlooking the valley of Nazareth.

Around the walls of the upper church are colourful representations of the Virgin Mary in a variety of materials, presented by many countries.

Behind the main altar is a huge mosaic, one of the biggest in the world, depicting the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church”.


Excavations revealing early shrine

The first church on the site venerated as Mary’s home was built around 427. The Crusaders built a huge basilica on its ruins, but this too was destroyed when the Crusader kingdom fell in 1187.

In 1620 the Franciscans managed to purchase the site from the local Arab ruler, but it was a further 120 years before they were allowed to build a new church.

When that church was demolished to prepare for the modern basilica, extensive excavations took place. These revealed the remains of the ancient village of Nazareth with its silos, cisterns and other cave-dwellings.

The most sensational discovery was of a shrine or synagogue-church dating back to before the first church was built. Scratched on the base of a column appeared the Greek characters XE MAPIA, translated as “Hail Mary” — the archangel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary.

Church of the Annunciation "See The Holy Land". (n.d.). 


Photos from our Historical Archives office