A mosaic dedicated to Saint Peter and words about “the leader of the heavenly apostles” was found in the ruins of a church in northern Israel. According to archaeologists, it proves that this is where Saint Peter was born, and that today’s city of el-Arai is the biblical Bethsaida. Scholars have long argued as to which of the biblical cities the apostle came from, Bethsaida or Capernaum.
The discovery was made by a group of archaeologists from the El Araj Expedition project, under which, since 2016, research has been carried out in northern Israel in the town of el-Arai. The mosaic was found in 2021, but it was covered with a layer of silt that made it impossible to read the inscription on it.
Now, the head of the project, prof. Steven Notley of Nyack College announced the discovery and translation of the text. As he explained, there is an ancient Greek prayer inscribed on the mosaic. It is accompanied by a dedication and a request for intercession to Peter the Apostle. The phrase appears that the record is addressed to “the leader and leader of the heavenly apostles.” St. Peter.
The fragment secured by archaeologists was probably part of the mosaic floor of the church.
Where was St. Peter?
Researchers believe that the inscription dedicated to St. To Peter, it is proof that the temple was built in the place of his birth. According to archaeologists, these are the remains of the Church of the Apostles, described in the 8th century by the Bavarian bishop Willibald. In his reports from the pilgrimage to the Sea of Galilee, the priest mentioned a visit to Bethsaida, where the temple was to be built at the birthplace of Peter and Andrew.
Scientists believe that the church, the ruins of which are located in what is now el-Arai, was built in the 1st century. It was damaged during the earthquake in 749 and then, as the Israeli Haaretz writes, was “mysteriously” buried.
“This discovery is our strongest evidence that Peter had a special relationship with the basilica and was probably dedicated to him,” emphasized Notley, quoted on the website.
Contradictory Information in the Bible
Archaeologists have been trying for many years to find out where the apostle was born. Two locations are considered – Bethsaida and Capernaum. Both towns are located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, Bethsaida on the eastern side, and Capernaum – on the west.
There is imprecise information in the Bible about the origin of Peter the Apostle. In the Gospel according to St. John is recorded that “Philip, like Andrew and Peter, came from the city of Bethsaida.” However, in the Gospel according to St. Matthew is mentioned that Jesus’ first meeting with Peter and Andrew took place in Capernaum, which leads some researchers to believe that the apostles came from that city.
St. Peter was probably born around 1 BC. He was elected the first bishop of Rome at the age of 30. He was crucified on the Vatican Hill. Traditionally, the martyrdom of St. Peter is dated June 29, 67, but modern researchers consider the fall of 64 as a more reliable date.
Main photo source: Reuters archive