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Capharnaum



A titular see of Palestine. Its name (also KAPERNAUM) means village of Nahum or consolation. It is frequently mentioned in the Gospels: Jesus, when repelled by the Nazarenes, made it His new abode (Matthew 4:13; Luke 4:31; John 2:12); He chose there his first disciples, Peter, Andrew, James, John, Matthew (Matthew 4:18, 21; 9:9; Mark 1:16); He cured there the centurion's servant, Peter's mother-in-law, a paralytic, a demoniac, the Hæmorrhoissa, etc.; it was there that He brought to life again the daughter of Jairus, and delivered many discourses, especially the one concerning the institution of the Eucharist (John 6i). The inhabitants, however, at the instigation of the Pharisees, broke off with Him, and Jesus, on leaving their city, cursed it (Matthew 11:23). Under Constantine the Great, Count Joseph, a converted Jew, built a church there which the pilgrim known as "Pseudo-Antoninus" visited in the sixth century. Since then the town has not been mentioned in the history of Palestine. It was never a Greek see, nor even a Latin one in the Middle Ages. Lequien, it is true (III, 719), quotes a document concerning the ecclesiastical province of Scythopolis in Palestina Secunda, wherein we read: "Ibi sunt adhoc Bethsaida, Naim et Capharnaum, sed alio nomine vocitantur nec habent episcopos". Just when it became a Latin titular see is not known, the title now being held by the coadjutor to the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. Capharnaum must be identified with Tell-Houm on the north bank of the Lake of Tiberias. There are splendid ruins there, chiefly of a magnificent synagogue seventy-two feet long and fifty-four feet wide. In a little convent on this site some Franciscans reside for the reception of pilgrims. According to some archaeologists the site of Capharnaum is not at Tell-Houm, but in the vicinity, on the way to Tiberias, either at Khan-Minieh or at Aïn-Tabigah. In the latter place the Cologne Catholic Society conducts an agricultural colony.

Wilson, Lands of the Bible, II, 139-149; Thomson, The Land and the Book, I, 542; Robinson, Biblical Researches (1856), III, 347-357; Conder, Tentwork in Palestine, II, 182; Kitchener in Quarterly Statement of the Palestine Exploration Fund (July, 1979).

S. VAILHÉ








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