Mount Tabor

On the 6th of August the Catholics celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The place of the Transfiguration is traditionally located on the Mount Tabor.

The localization of the Transfiguration fluctuated at the beginning of the Byzantine period. Eusebius (d. 340) hesitates between Tabor and Mount Hermon, while the Pilgrim of Bordeaux (333) places it on the Mount of Olives. In 348 Cyril of Jerusalem decided on Tabor, and the support of Epiphanius and Jerome established the tradition firmly. The date of the first religious constructions is uncertain. The anonymous pilgrim of Piacenza saw three basilicas in 570. Willibaldus in 723, on the contrary, mentions only one church dedicated to Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. The contradiction disappears if we assume three chapels architecturally linked, as in the present building.

Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, The Holy Land : an Oxford archaeological guide from earliest times to 1700. Oxford University Press, 2008.

Three canonical Gospels give us an account about the event. Let us read the text written by Saint Luke:

Luke, chapter 9:
28 Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35 Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” 36 When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

New Revised Standard Version