ISRAEL PHOTOS IV -- Pilgrimage
Kana, Israel -- July 2006
Well/Spring at Kana, 1880
Cana was described as the place where Jesus turned the water into wine, according to the Gospel of John. In John 21 Nathaniel was described as being from Cana. There are at least two towns in Israel thought to be Cana. The traditional Cana is about 6 kms NE of Nazareth and was called Kefer Kana. There were Roman era ruins found in this village. There is a ruined site further from Nazareth described by early travelers as Khirbet Kana also containing Roman era ruins.
I recall driving though the narrow streets of Nazareth in heavy traffic taking a long time to get past the Basilica of the Annunciation and Mary’s well. The main street is lined with shops, bakeries, restaurants, banks, and grocery stores. It is difficult to find parking as the town was built before the auto was in use. Up on the eastern hill is a Jewish suburb built with ample parking in the shopping areas as it was a planned development after the auto was invented. Some distance past Mary’s Well Square the pace picked up and the road made a long gradual turn to reach the top of the hill. The road turned toward Cana and after numerous curves, dips, and rises with more local traffic one arrives in Cana. The city has changed through the years. The local church is chained shut. The area is predominantly Moslem.
Earlier pilgrims found the village of Kana in a less developed state:
Holy Land, S.D. Phelps, New Haven, CT, 1872:
Arriving in Cana: “It is a small village, and most of its houses have a neglected and half-ruined appearance. But the surrounding basin or vale is well filled with pomegranate, fig, and olive-trees—some of which are very old and venerable—a variety which gives picturesqueness if not beauty to the village. While passing through it, we were pointed to a rude, dilapidated building called a Greek church, occupying the site of the house where the marriage festival was held and the miracle wrought. As we were about leaving, a priest appeared with a bunch of keys to show us the interior, and a few remains of the identical water pots used at the wedding. But we did not think it worth while to dismount and look at the relics. We passed on a few rods and came to a fine large fountain, making quite a stream as it flowed away. Around it were gathered a considerable group of women and girls, appearing gay and cheerful, some filling their jars, and others washing and beating out clothes with clubs. Little boys gathered around us anxious to earn a few paras by holding our horses. It was now about mid-day, and we stopped for lunch under a grove a pomegranates. Our leathern bottles were filled with fresh pure water from the fountain—the same fountain if this be the true Cana—from which the water pots were filled by the order of our blessed Lord, when He was about to work the first of these stupendous miracles that illustrated His public ministry. His mother and His disciples were here to witness this work that “manifested forth His glory,” and confirmed their faith. There is not other supply of water near the village, and it was deeply interesting to see and drink of this fountain, so sacred in its associations. Nathaniel, the guiless Israelite, belonged to Cana, and our Saviour was here when He healed the nobleman’s son at the point of death in Capernaum.'
A Brief Pilgrimage in the Holy Land, Caroline Hazard, Boston, MA, 1909:
'The road would go on through Cana,--Kefr Kenna, as its modern name is called. Here was the first miracle, and here is the well, with the spring still flowing from which the water was brought at the marriage in Cana. Here are the women gathered around it stopping to talk a while, as the great “water pots of stone” are slowly filled. One walks in the midst of sacred annunciation; time turns back,--there is no beginning or end. Nathaniel lived here,--the “Israelite in whom was no guile.” Cana is only a little distance from Nazareth, an easy walk from the home of Jesus.'
A Pilgrimage to Palestine, Egypt, and Syria, Marie-Joseph de Geramb, Monk of La Trappe, vol. II, 1840:
'At seven in the morning we entered Cana. The heat was already intense, and the fatigue overpowering. We went and encamped in an orchard, containing a great number of fruit-trees, and, among others, apricot-trees, from which our Arabs shook down the fruit and brought it to us. Weary and parched with thirst, I must confess that we ate it without scrupple, recollecting that the apostles, when hungry, had not hesitated to pluck ears in a corn-field on the sabbath-day.
Cana about two leagues distant from Nazareth, is situated on the slope of a hill. It was anciently one of the prettiest towns in Galilee: now it is but a mean village, inhabited by poor Arabs. Most of the dwellings are mere huts. You perceive numerous ruins, some of which we visited. But what I, for my part, was most anxious to see was, the place where Jesus, in performing his first miracle, “manifested forth his glory” in such a manner that his disciples believed on him.” We were presently conducted thither by persons whom we had not expected for guides.
We were at breakfast, when two schismatic Greek priests, hearing of our arrival, came to beg us to give them a bottle of wind for the service of their church and invited us to see it. We gave them the wine and followed them. They first took us to their chapel, which is mean and dilapidated. There they showed us an enormous stone vase, and assured us, in the most serious manner, that it was one of those what contained the water which Christ changed into wine. I took care not to betray the least sign of incredulity. They then led us about fifty paces farther, to a building entirely open. To reach it we were obliged to climb over prodigious heaps of stones, the ruins of walls overthrown either by time or by the hand of man. On site of this building stood the house where was held the marriage, at which Jesus and his mother were present. St. Helena caused a very handsome church to be built there, over the porch of which were to be seen three water pots in relievo. In the sequel, the Mahometans seized and converted it into a mosque. At present, one may say, no other traces of it are left but two small pillars, marking the spot where the miracle was wrought, and a kind of altar, at which it would still be possible to say mass. Everything in it is in a most deplorable state, or rather there is nothing but ruins piled upon ruins.
The soil in the environs of Cana is fertile; the inhabitants successfully cultivate fruit-trees, the vine, maize, and especially tobacco, the produce of which was abundant. At some distance from the village is a fountain or a kind of well, wide, but not deep, to which you descend by two flights of steps. The water is very clear and good. Hence was brought that which Jesus changed into wind. A clump of olive trees planted near it affords an agreeable shade to the weary traveler, and contributes to give a picturesque appearance to this fountain. At the moment we were passing, it was surrounded by women, who were washing clothes there; numerous cattle were approaching to quench their thirst. We could not help remarking with pain the most extraordinary contrast between the fertility of the country, those fine cattle, those rich crops, those excellent fruits, and the wretched stated of the inhabitants. The faces and the garments of most of them betray the stamp of indigence.
Lands of the Bible, J. W. McGarvey Philadelphia, PA, 1881:
'While our camp was in Nazareth we rode over to Kefr Kenna (village of Kenna), the Cana of the New Testament. It is a little over three miles northeast of Nazareth, a convenient distance for Mary and her family to attend the wedding. Here the Greeks have a very old building consisting of a single room, in which they say the water was turned into wine. They have turned the room into a chapel, and in one side of it stand two large stone mortars, about two and a half feet high and twenty inches across, now used for immersing infants. Our local guide, in explaining their use to us, said, “de Greeks put de babies under; not sprinkle ‘em, like de Latins and de Protestants.” The priest told us that these two mortars were two of the six stone water-parts, which held the water that was turned to wine. The simple minded old man was not aware that the six water-pots held each two or three firkins apiece,--about 20 gallons,--whereas his mortars held only about six gallons. If he had known this he might have chiseled his mortars out a little deeper. When we came out of the room, I saw near by a 20-gallon oil-jar, and I said to the priest, “You ought to take that and paint it to imitate stone, and then put it in the place of your two jars; it would look more like the thing.” His only answer was, “That is made to hold oil. I don’t think he saw the point.'Nazareth Synagogue