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Cana of Galilee

Cana (modern name Kafr Kanna; also known as Khirbet Cana) is a Galilean town five miles northeast of Nazareth. Its population of 8,500 includes both Muslims and Christians.

Long revered as the site of Jesus' first miracle or turning water into wine at a wedding, Kafr Kanna has good historical support for its authenticity as ancient Cana.

The location of the Cana visited by Jesus is disputed and not known for certain. Kafr Kanna is the most traditional site and has the following factors in favor of its authenticity.

However, recent excavations on a hill just north of Nazareth have uncovered ruins of a Jewish village from the 1st century AD. The excavators think the biblical Cana could be there instead of at this site 1 km to the east.

History records that a church was built in Cana by Empress Helena (mother of Constantine) in the 4th century, and this was identified with the remains of a large building found by travellers to Kafr Kanna in the 17th century.

The land at Kafr Kanna was sold by the lord of Sidon to the Knights Hospitallers in 1254. The Franciscans became established here in 1641 and began building the present church over an older church in 1879. It was consecrated in 1883.

Attractions

The Franciscan Wedding Church at Cana is small and fronted by a courtyard. The facade has angel figures and is flanked by two bell towers and over an arcaded narthex. Inside, the church has two levels. The upper church has a chapel surmounted by a simple dome. In the nave just before the stairs is a fragment of a Byzantine mosaic dating from the 5th or 6th century and preserves the name of the donor in Aramaic: "In memory of the pious Joseph, son of Tanhum, son of Bota and of his children who made this table, may it be for them a blessing, Amen." The lower church has a chapel and a small museum with artifacts from the site, including a winepress, a plastered cistern and vessels of various dates. One old jar is said to be one of the six jars used for the miracle.

Opposite the Franciscan church is a Greek Orthodox church of St. George, built in 1886, which house two stone jars that Greek Orthodox followers believe are the jars in which Jesus performed the miracle of the wine.

The ruins of ancient Cana are on top of a small rounded hill rising 60m above the plain. They can be seen on the eastern slope (Byzantine and early Arabic), around the top slopes, and on the peak (mostly Greek and Roman).