Cave Church of St. Peter, Antioch

The Cave Church of St. Peter (also the Grotto of St. Peter; Turkish Sen Piyer Kilisesi) is an ancient cave church with a stone facade, located just outside Antioch (modern Antakya), Turkey.

advertisement

History of Cave Church of St. Peter

This cave is widely believed to have been dug by the Apostle Peter himself as a place for the early Christian community of Antioch to meet, and thus to be the very first Christian church.

Whether or not this is so, St. Peter (and St. Paul) did preach in Antioch around 50 AD and a church had been established in Antioch by as early as 40 AD.

Antioch became a major center for planning and organizing the apostles' missionary efforts, and it was the base for Paul's earliest missionary journeys. Famously, it was the inhabitants of Antioch that first called Jesus' followers "Christians" (Acts 11:26).

The attractive stone façade of the church was built by Crusaders, who identified the grotto during their rule of Antioch from 1098 to 1268.

What to See at Cave Church of St. Peter

The interior of the grotto church is austere and simple. The only permanent furnishings are a small altar, a single statue, and a stone throne. On the walls are the barely discernible remains of frescoes, and on the floor can be seen some traces of mosaics. In the back of the church is a tunnel that leads into the mountain interior, popularly believed to be a means of escape in times of persecution.

Worship services are still held in St. Peter's Grotto, especially on the Feast Day of St. Peter and St. Paul (June 29) and on Christmas.

See the Cave Church of St. Peter Photo Gallery for a virtual tour.

Near the church is the Charonion, a stone carving from Hellenistic times.

Quick Facts on Cave Church of St. Peter

Site Information
Names:Cave Church of St. Peter
Country:Turkey
Categories:biblical sites; caves
Styles:Romanesque
Dedication: St. Peter
Dates:c. 50; c. 1100
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:36.208944° N, 36.181753° E
Address:Antioch, Turkey
Lodging:View hotels near Cave Church of St. Peter
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. Acts 11:19-30; 13:1-3; 14:21-28; 15:22-44; 18:22-23.
  2. "Christmas in St. Peter's Grotto" - AsiaNews.com, December 21, 2005.
  3. "The Church of Antioch" - Catholic Encyclopedia (1907, before the excavations)

More Information

Interior of the cave, with altar. © Dick Osseman
Interior view looking towards entrance. © Dick Osseman
Tunnel. © Dick Osseman

Map of Cave Church of St. Peter, Antioch

Below is a location map and aerial view of Cave Church of St. Peter. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.