Church of the Week: The Wedding Church at Cana

The town of Cana in Galilee was the site of Jesus' first miracle, the turning of water into wine (John 2:1-11). While today's Cana may not be the village Jesus' visited (recent excavations on a hill just north of Nazareth have uncovered ruins of a Jewish village from the 1st century AD), Christian pilgrims have revered this site as the place of Jesus' first miracle from an early date. Empress Helena (mother of Constantine) built a church here in the 4th century, and this was identified with the remains of a large building found by travellers to Kafr Kanna in the 17th century. The present church, built over an older church, was begun in 1879 and consecrated in 1883.

The lovely Robin and I have visited this church several times, most recently this past January:

Here is a photo of the main altar (shown also above), with a lovely painting of the wedding:

And the two altars to the left and right of the main altar:

In the lower level of the church are displayed several stone water jars, perhaps like those described in the Bible (though how many firkins these would hold, I have no idea). But because this village of Kafr Kana has no nearby water source, the area was replete with such stone jars, used for storing water--just like in the account of the wedding.

In the church's courtyard is a serene little pool, with water jars built into the design of the fountain (I would mention that I have trouble not seeing the face of the Cookie Monster in the fountain, but that would be too distracting, I'm afraid):

A modern-day tradition is for couples to renew their wedding vows or propose marriage in Cana, with the Wedding Church as an unforgettable backdrop. The town is also--understandably--a popular place to buy wine!

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