The West Basilica

Webpage text: Location in menu structure: UMM QAIS HERITAGE \BYZANTINE\West

 

BasilicaNotes: Need to be linked to map when map is available.

 

Text for website:The Five Aisled Basilica (West Basilica)

 

[Map Image]

 

The almost square basilica was built between 360 and 370AD. Its central nave is situated exactly atop a Roman mausoleum,the circular opening is visible in the floor of the basilica. The apse was constructed upon a byzantine crypt, presumably where a local saint had been buried.

 

It is possible that during the Byzantine period the sumptuous Roman mausoleum was associated with the miracle of Gadara, which is described in the New Testament (Matthew 8:28). According to the Gospel, on His way from Lake Genezareth in Gadarene country Jesus met two possessed men, who obviously dwelt in the tomb on the outskirts of the city. Jesus healed them of their affliction by driving out their devils into a herd of swine, which thereupon plunged into the waters.

 

As with other miracles performed by Jesus, this story could have been the reason why Gadara developed into an important place of pilgrimage. Until the Early Islamic period the basilica was used as a Christian church. A short time after the Crusades it was rebuilt as a mosque, and the entrance of the prayer room was shifted to the north and a prayer niche (mihrab) was installed in the southern wall