GALILEE – It has been a tradition to celebrate the Feast of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fish every second Saturday of November. The feast was celebrated with great jubilation at the Benedictine Sanctuary in Tabgha, on the northwest shore of Lake Tiberias in Galilee on November 12, 2016.” Jesus, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples to set before the people; he also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied. And they picked up twelve wicker baskets full of fragments and what was left of the fish. Those who ate of the loaves were five thousand men.” (Mk 6: 41-44)
It has become the tradition. Every second Saturday of November, the Benedictine monastery, the Benedictine Sisters and the pilgrims’ house of the German Association of the Holy Land in Tabgha (Pilgerhaus) invite the faithful to join them in the celebration of this feast of the multiplication of the loaves and fish. On Saturday, November 12, the Church was full, as many responded to the feast day invitation and the ongoing work of the sanctuary restoration since the terrible fire that ravaged part of the Church in February 2015. Mass was celebrated by Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar in Israel and concelebrated by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, the Greek Catholic Archbishop of Akka, Archbishop George Bacouni, Father Basilius, OSB, Prior of the Benedictine community in Tabgha, and many other priests.
In his homily, the Bishop invited the faithful to reflect on the meaning of the multiplication of the loaves in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy. “The miracle performed by Jesus in this place is a sign of the merciful love of God for man, for every man as a whole person in body and soul,” stressed Bishop Marcuzzo. “Here we are invited to be like Jesus in all our deeds and actions: to be with and for others, whoever and whatever the person may be, especially the poor and the suffering, everywhere and always. ”
The Bishop took the opportunity to thank all the religious communities that serve and maintain the Holy Place, including the “German Association of the Holy Land”, the Benedictine fathers and sisters.
The church of Tabgha is located on the ruins of a 4th century church and a 5th century basilica, and is home to the oldest figurative mosaics of Christian art found in the Holy Land to this time. Among them is the famous mosaic of loaves and fish at the foot of the altar. Bread and fish are very ancient symbols of Christians of the early Church, who were the first witnesses of faith on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The mosaic also represents only four loaves; the fifth is the heavenly bread of the Eucharist, “the Living Bread, that came down from heaven” (Jn 6:51), which nourishes the body and soul of the believers.
The next big gathering of the faithful, devotees and supporters of this holy place is the official inauguration of the restored structure that was destroyed by the fire, scheduled for February 12, 2017.