Arsonists attacked the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fish at Tabgha at 3:30 this morning. Graffiti left at the site indicates that the attack was perpetrated by religious Jews. Police have arrested and released 16 suspects, all minors from Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The graffiti reads, “The false gods will be eliminated,” a reference to a Jewish prayer and consistent with similar attacks in the past.

The Times of Israel has the most extensive report. The Jerusalem Post provides a 1-minute video of the destroyed building. Prime Minister Netanyahu has condemned the attack, and a Catholic church adviser indicates that pilgrims groups are considering canceling their trips.

The church is most famous for its ancient mosaic of five loaves and two fish. The earliest known record for this location of the miracle dates back to the time of Lady Egeria (381-384) and the first church was built in 350. A century later another building was erected with a mosaic floor covering about 5,400 square feet (500 sq m), half of which is preserved. The present site was rediscovered in 1932 and the current church completed in 1982. We have more photos and information about the historic site of Tabgha here.

HT: Charles Savelle

Tabgha from northwest
Tabgha mosaic of fish and loaves, tb110106544
Mosaic of loaves and fish, 5th century AD Photos from Pictorial Library of Bible Lands, volume 1