Nazareth

[Nazareth]
The town of Galilee where the Blessed Virgin dwelt and where Christ lived the first 30 years of his life, situated in a hollow plateau between the hills of Lebanon, the ancient town occupying the triangular hillock in the north. In earliest times it was the home of priests on their way to the Temple of Jerusalem, and up to the time of Constantine, exclusively Jewish. By 570 the dwelling of Mary had been converted into a basilica and in the 7th century the church of the Nutrition of Jesus was erected. The toleration of the Moslems who conquered Galilee in 637 did not last, for thc Crusaders were compelled to leave the town in 1187 and all the Christian buildings were destroyed in 1263. The Franciscan friars, arriving in the 14th century, were driven out twice, but in 1629 were allowed to build a church, which was, however, ruined by the Bedouins. The friars built the present church in 1730. In 1909 explorations below and about it revealed the plans of the ancient basilica of Constantine, which the Crusaders copied. The Franciscans built their church so that fifteen steps led down to the ancient Chapel of the Angel, and two to the grotto with its altar of the Annunciation. The choir of the church is directly above the grotto; the chapel is the traditional site of the house of the Virgin; and the church of the Nutrition marks the home of the Holy Family.