Relics of Our Lord: the holy places

The land that Jesus Christ walked on is a real relic, and helps us to get closer to his person and message. We review some of the places related to his life, together with scenes from his biography. 

Alejandro Vázquez-Dodero-April 1, 2021-Reading time: 7 minutes
holy ground

Photo credit: Anton Mislawsky / Unsplash

The places where Jesus Christ lived or visited are authentic relics. As we pointed out in a previous fascicle, any element that formed part of his life or with which he was in contact, invites us to approach his person and message with greater piety and is considered a relic. The same happens with any saint in the history of Catholicism: what he wore or where he lived acquires the character of a relic.

In those places related to the biography of Our Lord, churches have been built over time to commemorate his presence and invite us to contemplate the passage of the Son of God through those places and, in some way, to pray and give thanks for such graces.

Among the various criteria that can be used to describe these places, we have opted for the chronological one. That is to say, we will refer to the places where Christ was, in order, from his birth to his crucifixion, death and resurrection. In addition, in order to contextualize, we will refer to some event in the life of the Lord in each of these places. 


The Arab city of Nazareth, now the largest in Israel, is located in a natural valley 320 meters above sea level, about 25 kilometers from the Sea of Galilee. 

At the time of Jesus, it would have been a discreet city, with very few of the cave houses in the area. Today it would have about 50,000 inhabitants, Muslims and Christians. It would have been inhabited in the Bronze Age, and several cave-houses have been discovered which would have been dwellings with the typical facilities of the time. Over time, after the death of Jesus, the Judeo-Christian community would emerge, transforming some of these cave-houses into churches where the first disciples of the Lord would gather for worship.

The miracle of the Incarnation of the Lord took place in Nazareth. There Miriam, a young Jewish girl, would have the honor of becoming the Mother of God by conceiving Jesus Christ in her womb through the work and grace of the Holy Spirit. The archangel Gabriel would appear to her with this unique mission, which she fully accepted.

Angelus Domini nuntiavit hic Mariae

In that city stands out the Basilica of the Annunciation, commemorating the Incarnation of the Lord and where tradition holds that the Virgin Mary lived. This basilica is the center of Nazareth, and within it the grotto, in which a variation to the text of the Angelus prayer is allowed: it means that right there the angel of the Lord announced his embassy to Mary with the Angelus Domini nuntiavit. hic Mariae. This inclusion of the "hic", which is engraved on the front of the altar of the basilica, signifies that this mysterious act of love of God for humanity took place right there, incarnating himself in her immaculate womb.

Jesus spent his childhood in Nazareth with Joseph and Mary. He would work in his father's workshop, since he was known as "the carpenter's son" (cf. Mt. 13:55).

In addition to the great basilica of the Annunciation we also have the church of St. Joseph, where the saint would have his workshop; and the Synagogue church, where the Lord would preach, inside the synagogue or Jewish temple of the time.

The house of Nazareth where, according to tradition, the Annunciation took place and where Jesus, Mary and Joseph would later live, is located in Loreto. During the Crusades, faced with the advance of the Muslims, the Christians thought that the best way to protect the "holy house" would be to move it. At the end of the 13th century, the Angeli family was in charge of the transfer, first to present-day Croatia, then to Ancona and finally to Loreto, where it is today. Scientifically it seems to be ruled out that the house was moved by men, and the tests carried out on it confirm that it is a 1st century building. Thus, tradition holds that it was moved by angels, and hence the Virgin of Loreto is the patron saint of aviators.

Aim Karim

It is an ancient town in the district of Jerusalem, where, according to Christian tradition, Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist, when she was already pregnant and awaiting the arrival of Jesus.

Thus, referring to this episode in the life of Jesus, we place the Lord there because his Mother was there awaiting his birth in her womb.


Palestinian city located in the region of the West Bank, in the mountains of Judea. It is the place attributed to the birth of Jesus. It is also the place attributed to the birth and coronation of King David.

It is currently surrounded by walls installed by the Israeli government, and several checkpoints, as a security measure against the Palestinian people.

The Magi arrived in Bethlehem to adore the newborn baby Jesus. From Bethlehem St. Joseph would flee with Mary and the Child to Egypt, taking into account the order decreed by Herod to kill children under two years of age, after feeling deceived by the Magi after questioning them about their presence in his domain and the answer received.


City located 10 km south of Tyre -now Lebanon- and 12 km from the northern border of Israel.

Famous for being the place where Jesus performed the first miracle: the transformation of water into wine during a wedding celebration. Many Christian couples come to this city to renew their marriages.

Jordan River

This river rises in the northern foothills of Mount Hermon, flows through southeastern Lebanon to the south, enters Israel and empties into the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee.

In it St. John the Baptist baptized Jesus just before he began his public ministry.

Sea of Galilee or Lake Tiberias or Lake Gennesaret

It is a 21 km long north-south and 12 km east-west lake, at an altitude of 212 m below sea level, making it the lowest freshwater lake in the world.

It is important for Christians because Jesus developed much of his public activity around it, taking up residence in the city of Capernaum, north of the lake.

There he chose his first disciples, mostly fishermen. In addition, Jesus performed many miracles there, such as calming the storm or walking on water.

Capernaum and the Mount of Beatitudes

Capernaum is a fishing village located in ancient Galilee, Israel, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

Very close to Capernaum is the mountain where Jesus gave the discourse on the Beatitudes or the synthesis of the morality of Christ's message.


It is a village located on the eastern slopes of the Mount of Olives, on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, now called Al Azariyeh.

In Bethany lived the brothers Lazarus, Martha and Mary, friends of Jesus, whom he visited on several occasions. We do not know how this friendship originated, but we do know that they were united by a sincere and great friendship, because of the various details of closeness that the Gospels show. These three brothers would repeatedly host the Lord in their home.

It was precisely in that city that the great miracle of the resurrection of his friend, Lazarus, took place. Such was the devotion they had at the time to this holy place that a sanctuary was built next to the tomb of Lazarus. In it are represented several scenes of those encounters of Jesus with that family friend.

In Bethany also lived Simon the leper, in whose home a woman -Mary, sister of Lazarus, already mentioned, or another Mary, that of Magdala- anointed Jesus with perfume on his head as a sign of veneration.


The holy city of Jerusalem is located in the Near East, in the Judean Mountains, between the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Dead Sea. A city afflicted since ancient times by continuous disputes over its sovereignty and capital, today it is the capital of the State of Israel, although the State of Palestine claims the eastern part as its own capital. In 1980, as a result of a UN Security Council resolution and in response to Israel's attempted annexation of the eastern part of the city, several countries decided to move their embassies from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, which administratively and politically became the capital of Israel.

Jerusalem has a profound religious significance, and the three great monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - consider it a holy city. For Judaism, it is where King David established the capital of the kingdom of Israel, where the Ark of the Covenant was placed and where the temple was built to which prayers should be directed. For Christians, it is where Jesus preached, was crucified and resurrected. For Islam it is the third sacred city, from where the prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven, and it was there that Muslims first turned their gaze when praying, before moving on to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.

Highlights in Jerusalem

In the city of Jerusalem there are many churches that commemorate some event linked to the life of the Lord. For Christians, among others, the following stand out:

  • Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre: it houses Calvary, where Jesus was crucified, and the tomb where he was buried. It is also known as the Basilica of the Resurrection, because it is also where the resurrection of the Lord took place.
  • Cenacle: where Jesus celebrated the Last Supper, instituting the Eucharist; it was also where he appeared to the apostles and where they received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
  • Basilica of the Agony: located on the Mount of Olives, it commemorates the moment when Jesus spent his last moments before undertaking the Via Dolorosa on his way to Calvary.
  • Church of Domus Flevit: commemorates the place from where on Palm Sunday the Lord gazed upon Jerusalem and wept in sorrow for it.
  • Church of the Flagellation: it is located in the Old City of Jerusalem, where the Lord was scourged at the beginning of his ascension to Calvary.
  • Church of the Lord's Prayer: in that place Jesus taught the disciples this Sunday prayer.
  • Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu: it recalls the place where the house of Caiaphas, who judged Christ for his subsequent death sentence on the Cross, was located.
  • Litostrotos: where Jesus was crowned with thorns and outraged by Roman soldiers.
  • Via Dolorosa: refers to the path that Jesus followed to Calvary, with the cross on his back. Along this way are marked the stations or moments of his torture towards the place where he would be crucified. 
  • Abbey of the Dormition: this abbey commemorates the place where Mary fell asleep before being assumed into heaven.
  • Church of St. Anne: commemorates the place where the Virgin Mary was born, dedicating the name of the temple to that of her mother, Anne.
  • Edicule of the Ascension: from there Jesus ascended to heaven.
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