Home of Mary and Joseph
It was in Nazareth, that a young girl called Mary, known at that time as Miriam, was betrothed to Joseph. The Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, and declared: “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High”.
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” Luke 1:30-37
NAzareth of old
At the time of King Herod the Great, Nazareth was a small and remote village in the region of Lower Galilee in northern Israel. A typical community had up to ten families, of modest means, living in simple basalt stone houses.
The original village probably extended north to south on the hilltop where the Basilica of the Annunciation, the Franciscan convent and the church of Saint Joseph now stand. An ancient house, dating to the days of Jesus, has been discovered on the hill slopes, with pottery pieces ranging from around 100 BCE to 100 CE.
Negotiating a hebrew betrothal
The groom and his family would have a meeting with the bride and her family, where gifts were given and received by both families. The groom would then pour a cup of wine for the prospective bride to drink. If she accepted, she would drink the wine, and the legal contract would be completed. The official engagement and the preparation time for the marriage had begun.
Marriage was very highly esteemed. A betrothal was seen as a legally binding pre-marital contract, incurring severe consequences, if it was violated. After the betrothal meeting, the groom would return with his family to prepare a home for his bride.
Being a pilgrim in nazareth
You will visit the convent of the Sisters of Nazareth, where one of the nuns will give a guided tour of the fascinating excavations discovered there.
Also, a visit to Mary’s Well and the Byzantine Church of St Joseph, (also known as the Church of the Nutrition and the Church of Joseph’s Workshop), which is a solid and unpretentious building. It stands very much in the shadow of the soaring cupola of the Church of the Annunciation on its southern side. A tradition dating back to the 17th Century asserts that the Church of St Joseph in Nazareth is built over the carpentry workshop of the husband of the Virgin Mary. However, there is no evidence that the cave over which the church is built was Joseph’s workshop and is unlikely to have been a carpentry workshop in the modern sense. Nevertheless, it is a wonderful historical discovery and will act as a reminder of the simple life and times of the Holy Family.