The Compound of the Righteous Tabitha of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jaffa with a temple in honor of the Apostle Peter and righteous Tabitha is located at the burial site of the righteous Tabitha, resurrected by St. the Apostle Peter. Indeed, Saint Peter, one of Jesus’s 12 apostles, performed numerous miracles in Jaffa and had a vision that led him to begin preaching the gospel to non-Christians.
The tales of Peter in Jaffa are told in the Book of Acts.
“But Peter put them all outside and knelt down and prayed; then turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, rise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.” Even though it’s easy to spot from a distance, visitors should note that the actual entrance is though a green metal gate off a small side street in the middle of an old Jewish graveyard.
Known as Tzvia in Hebrew, Tabitha was a student, beloved for her kindness and the many good deeds she did for the community of Jaffa.
She became ill and passed away while still young.
St. Peter prayed and brought her back to life in a miracle. Tabitha went on to live until a ripe old age.
She was buried in a cave near the Russian Orthodox Church and was later canonized as a Christian saint.
Built in 1894, the Church of St. Peter and St. Tabitha serves the Russian Orthodox Christian community, with services in Russian and Hebrew; underneath the chapel nearby there is what is believed to be the tomb of St Tabitha. In 1868, the Chief of Mission, Archimandrite Antonin Kapustin, purchased a plot of land in Jaffa.
Soon a splendid garden was built here, as well as a house for pilgrims, which arrived to the Holy Land through the port in Jaffa.
In 1888, in the presence of the Grand Dukes of Sergei and Pavel Alexandrovich Romanov and the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, in the Russian section the foundation was laid for the future church.
In 1894, the church was consecrated by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Gerasim, in honor of the feast of the Worship of the faithful of St. Apostle Peter, especially revered in this city. Under Archimandrite Leonid Sentsov the built temple was painted. In 1995, with the head of the Mission, Archimandrite Theodosia Vasnev, now bishop of Tambov, active restoration work began on the farmstead. The parish house was restored, paved with stone leading to the temple path. In February 1996, the external restoration of the monastery church and its bell tower was completed. On June 18, 1997, His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, who was on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and celebrated the anniversary of the 150th anniversary of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, visited the Compound of “Righteous Tabitha”. The primate of the Russian Church bowed to the burial place of the righteous Tabitha and performed a moleben in the “way marching” before returning to his homeland. The Russian Orthodox church and monastery named after Saint Peter and Saint Tabitha are a unique place in southern Tel-Aviv the commemorates the raising of Tabitha from the dead by Peter
The site is open only a few hours a week for visitors. Surrounding the Russian Orthodox Church of Tabitha’s Tomb, pilgrims touring the area will find sunny, open gardens, shaded by mulberry trees. The gardens make an ideal place to read the story of Tabitha from the Book of Acts and to pray in an atmosphere of quiet reverence.
It’s an active church with services on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tour participants who arrive in time for a service might experience an a capella women’s choir chanting the liturgy while remaining unseen.
The tomb itself is in a highly decorated cave.
The Church of Saint Peter has been a landmark for sea-traveling pilgrims headed to Israel since the church was built in 1654. The church was later destroyed in the late 1700s, then re-built in 1894. A room within the church supposedly housed Napoleon Bonaparte when he came to visit in 1799. The church holds several masses a day in multiple languages and at various times.