Archeologists believe they have found the ancient Church of the Apostles, which is said to have been constructed over the homes of Jesus’ disciples Peter and Andrew.
The church is located near the Sea of Galilee, in the ancient Israeli city of Bethsaida, which is now part of the Bteikha Nature Reserve, according to Haaretz.
Researchers with Kinneret College in Israel and Nyack College’s Center for the Study of Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins, which is located in New York City, made the discovery.
Nyack Professor Steven Notley told Fox News the group’s previous annual digs had revealed evidence of the church’s existence, such as ornate mosaics, pieces of which had been well-preserved.
“These discoveries already informed us that the church was waiting to be found somewhere nearby,” he said. “It is always remarkable to bring these beautifully decorated floors to light after being buried for almost 1,500 years.”
The discovery is particularly significant because there have been some religious historians who questioned the site’s existence at all, despite its mention in Byzantine pilgrimage itineraries.
One of those accounts came from Bavarian bishop Willibald, who noted the church’s location over Peter’s and Andrew’s home in 725 A.D.
Still, Notley said many scholars believed the writings were “mistaken.”
“Of equal importance, the church indicates that there existed a living memory in the Christian community about the location of Bethsaida, home of Peter, Andrew and Philip,” he said, referring to John 1:44.
The location of the Church of the Apostles is noteworthy in other ways, too. Jesus healed a blind man in Bethsaida, according to Mark 8:22:26, and in Luke 9:10-17, it’s recorded Jesus fed 5,000 people at a nearby location.
Furthermore, it reinforces the researchers’ belief that el-Araj is the home of ancient Bethsaida.