Jaffa – St Peter’s Church

St. Peter's Church, Kikar Kdumim, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Izrael

Website of the Sanctuary

+972 3 682 28 71

Visiting hours: 8.00 am – 11.45 am and 3.00 pm – 5.00 pm

Jaffa – St Peter’s Church

The New Testament records several of the deeds of St Peter the Apostle which took place in Jaffa: the raising of Tabitha; his stay at the house of Simon the Tanner; the vision of the sheet let down from heaven. It was from here that he journeyed up the coast to Caesaria to tell about Jesus at the request of the Roman centurion, Cornelius, whose household became the first converts from paganism to be welcomed into the Church.

“Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
The vision of Peter, Acts 10, 15

Christian tradition

In ancient times the city of Jaffa owed its importance to its being a natural harbour, albeit a small one with dangerous rocks off-shore. The cedars of Lebanon used in the building of the Temple both at the time of Solomon (2Chr 2:15) and of Zerubbabel (Esd 3:7) were brought to shore here. It was from Jaffa that the prophet Jonah set sail for Tarshish (Jon 1:3) and was then thrown up again on the shore by the whale (Jon 2:11) at the spot known in local tradition as Tel Jonah.

The Acts of the Apostles refers to a close-knit community here of Jewish believers in Jesus. They were comforted by the visit of St Peter the Apostle, who came and raised from the dead a lady by the name of Tabitha.

Here in Jaffa, on the rooftop of Simon the Tanner, St Peter had the vision of the sheet let down from heaven containing all sorts of creatures, both pure and impure, after which he set out for Caesarea to receive into the Church the roman centurion, Cornelius, together with all his household, the first from among the pagans to convert to Christianity (Acts 10).

The church dedicated to St Peter commemorates these events. It was built by the Spanish between the years 1888 and 1894 on the place where the fortress of St Louis IX, King of France had stood at the time of the 6th Crusade (c. 1251). He it was who brought the Franciscan friars to the city, and his statue now stands inside the friary cloister.

Beginning in 1650 the friars had a guesthouse in Jaffa to welcome the increasing number of pilgrims arriving through the port. In the church itself there are beautiful stained-glass windows, the work of F. X. Zettler of Munich, a remarkable wooden pulpit carved in the form of a fruiting tree and the painting above the high altar by the Catalan artist, Talarn, representing St Peter’s vision.

By Train:
To get here from the airport, the fastest and cheapest method is to take the train. A regular line runs every half hour during the day, and the ride takes 15 – 20 minutes. Get of at the first stop – Ha’Hagana Station, and walk to the Central Bus Station. (3 minutes).
From Israeli’s Northern parts: The main Tel-Aviv railway station, Merkaz Station, is the 2nd stop when arriving from the north.

By Bus:
To find train times and schedules: http://www.rail.co.il/EN/Pages/HomePage.aspx
From the Central Bus Station in Tel-Aviv #41 to the Clocktower on Yeffet st. in Jaffa (otherwise known as: “Migdal Hashaon”).

The site

1. St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church.
2. Greek Orthodox Church of St Michel.
3. House of Simon the Tanner.
4. Andromeda’s Rock.
5. Armenian Church.
6. Archaeological Museum.
7. Mosque.
8. Clocktower.
9. French Hospital.
10. Greek Orthodox Church of St George.
11. Melkite Church of St George.
12. St Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church.
13. Coptic Church.
14. Maronite Church.

Christian tradition

In ancient times the city of Jaffa owed its importance to its being a natural harbour, albeit a small one with dangerous rocks off-shore. The cedars of Lebanon used in the building of the Temple both at the time of Solomon (2Chr 2:15) and of Zerubbabel (Esd 3:7) were brought to shore here. It was from Jaffa that the prophet Jonah set sail for Tarshish (Jon 1:3) and was then thrown up again on the shore by the whale (Jon 2:11) at the spot known in local tradition as Tel Jonah. The Acts of the Apostles refers to a close-knit community here of Jewish believers in Jesus. They were comforted by the visit of St Peter the Apostle, who came and raised from the dead a lady by the name of Tabitha. Here in Jaffa, on the rooftop of Simon the Tanner, St Peter had the vision of the sheet let down from heaven containing all sorts of creatures, both pure and impure, after which he set out for Caesarea to receive into the Church the roman centurion, Cornelius, together with all his household, the first from among the pagans to convert to Christianity (Acts 10).

The church dedicated to St Peter commemorates these events. It was built by the Spanish between the years 1888 and 1894 on the place where the fortress of St Louis IX, King of France had stood at the time of the 6th Crusade (c. 1251). He it was who brought the Franciscan friars to the city, and his statue now stands inside the friary cloister. Beginning in 1650 the friars had a guesthouse in Jaffa to welcome the increasing number of pilgrims arriving through the port. In the church itself there are beautiful stained-glass windows, the work of F. X. Zettler of Munich, a remarkable wooden pulpit carved in the form of a fruiting tree and the painting above the high altar by the Catalan artist, Talarn, representing St Peter’s vision.

The raising of Tabitha

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord. As Peter travelled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda. In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, who was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!” Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning towards the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.

Acts 9,31

Posted in The Holy Land