The Basilica is located in the center of the City of Nazareth. It stands over the site that was believed to be the site of Mary’s house, where angel Gabriel appeared and announced to Mary that she was to give birth to Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
~ Luke 1:26-38
The Basilica is comprised of two levels, the Upper Church and the Lower Church.
The lower Church is centered around the grotto which, according to the tradition, was the home of Mary and the site of the Annunciation.
The picture above shows the grotto’s interior, with its beautiful 18th century altar dedicated to the Annunciation. On the right of the altar one can see a column that placed there in the fourth century to mark the place where the angel appeared. Behind it are stairs that lead up to a small cave (called “Mary’s kitchen”) and an exit to the yard.
On the Altar are the words ” Verbum Caro Hic Factum Est” (“Here the word was made flesh”). This text is from John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”.
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