St. Peter's Church, Jaffa

St. Peter's Church (Hebrew: כנסיית פטרוס הקדוש , Knessiaht Petrous Hakadosh) is a Franciscan Church in Jaffa, part of Tel Aviv, in Israel.

History
Ottoman period

The church was built in 1654 in dedication to Saint Peter over a medieval citadel that was erected by Frederick II and restored by Louis IX of France at the beginning of the second half of the thirteenth century. However, in the late eighteenth century the church was twice destroyed and consequently twice rebuilt. The current structure was built between 1888 and 1894 and most recently renovated in 1903.

Today

Masses are conducted in English, Italian, Spanish, Polish and German. A schedule is available at the church and it is open to the public every day. Among contemporary worshippers are Polish foreign workers who come here to pray on Saturdays, their day off.

Architecture

With its tall brick facade and towering belfry, St. Peter's Church is the single largest and most distinctive building in Old Jaffa. The interior of the church is reminiscent of cathedrals in Europe, with a high vaulted ceiling, stained glass windows and marble walls. The stained glass windows were manufactured in Munich by renowned artist Franz Xaver Zettler. The four panels in the anterior of the church depict episodes from the life of St. Peter, including the miraculous catch of fishes, the giving of the keys, the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor and the Washing of the feet at the Last Supper. With the exception of depictions of Tabitha, Saint Francis of Assisi, and the Immaculate Conception, all of the other windows in the church depict Spanish Saints; not surprising as the present building was erected by Spain. Also of note is the pulpit which is carved in the shape of a life-like tree.

St. Peter's Church also contains thirteenth century remnants of St. Louis' citadel located outside and to the right of the sacristy. The remnants include two whole rooms which are circular in shape, have low ceilings and fire embrasures. It is in these rooms that Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have lived while he was at St. Peter's in 1799 during his campaign in Egypt and Syria.

Significance

The church was constructed on its present location because of the significance Jaffa has to Christianity. It was in Jaffa that Saint Peter raised Tabitha, one of Jesus' disciples, from the dead according to the Acts of the Apostles, 9:36-43, 10:1-4. The church is dedicated to him.

Since the large church is located on a hill near the shore, the building has historically dominated the view of Jaffa from the sea, thus serving as a beacon to pilgrims, signaling that the Holy Land was near.

Building Activity

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