After the destruction of the Second Temple on 9th Ab 70 CE., many refugees
from Judah in general and Jerusalem in particular, fled north to the Galilee and
to Nazareth - among them the priestly family of Hafizetz, as is shown on the
tablet of priestly courses found at Cæsarea.
Nazareth was the home of Mary,
Joseph and Jesus after the family's return from exile in Egypt following Jesus'
birth and the decrees of Herod the Great. Christianity penetrated early into
this Jewish town in the reign of Constantine the Great (about 330 CE), and there
is considerable archæological evidence of churches belonging to the
"Judeo-Christians" in the foundations of today's Church of the
After the Arab conquest in the 7th Century Nazareth began to
lose importance until the Crusader period when a new, larger church was built
some of whose remains are still to be seen and have even been incorporated into
the present church. In the late middle ages Nazareth's importance again fell
into decline mainly through the obstructiveness of the early Turkish-Ottoman
authorities and it wasn't until the beginning of the 17th Century that the
Franciscans were at last able to resettle in Nazareth with some kind of
stability and security.
From the 19th Century onwards, Nazareth began to grow
rapidly as the number of pilgrims, churches and hostels increased. In 1918,
under the British, there were 11,000 residents in Nazareth basically an
agricultural village at that time, 66% of whose residents were
Including the new town (1958), of Nazareth Illit, there are now
about 66,000 residents of Nazareth.