St. Peter, regarded as the most important and spokesman of the Apostles, resided in the house of Simon the Tanner in Jaffa (Acts 10 6): "He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side".
In this house, St. Peter had a significant dream, which changed the course of history: including gentiles in the newly founded church. According to tradition, the resurrection of Tabitha also happened on the roof of the house.
The traditional site of the house is located here, close to the ancient port. Another Roman Catholic tradition locates the house at St. Peter's church.
The site is located above the ancient port of Jaffa, near the lighthouse. You can reach the entrance to the house, but there is no entry inside.
This site, as well as other featured places, is marked by a yellow square.
The following stories are related to the house of Simon the tanner.
Peter's Trance (Acts 10-11)
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devouted and God–fearing. Cornelius gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.
One day after lunch he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, "Cornelius!". Cornelius stared at him in fear. "What is it, Lord?" he asked. The angel answered, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea." When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa to bring back Peter.
About noon on the following day St. Peter was praying on the top of the roof at the Tanner's house. While waiting for lunch, he fell into a trance. In this dream Peter saw the heaven opening and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners, containing all kinds of four–footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air (see drawing on the right, with the bag of snakes in the air).
Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat." Peter objected: "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean." The voice spoke to him "Don't call anything impure that God has made clean."
This happened three times, and then the sheet was taken back to heaven. While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon's house was, and stopped at the gate.
Peter went down to the gate and checked the purpose of their arrival. They told him that their master Cornelius sent them to bring Peter over to Caesarea, as instructed by the angel, in order to hear the words of God. Peter let the three sleep in the house, then joined them on the next day to Caesarea.
Illustration of St. Peter in
Simon the Tanner's house
-picture in St. Peter's Church, Jaffa
This dream was a turning point in the Christian history. Peter, regarded as the first Pope, interpreted the dream as a need to convert the gentiles (such as Cornelius, a Roman pagan) and include them in the newly founded church. This was the start of the split from the Jewish religion, where the faith was exclusive.
Miracle of the resurrection of Tabitha (Acts 9)
According to the tradition, St Peter revived Tabitha on the roof of the tanner's house. (Acts 9 37, 40): "And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.... But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up".
Where is the house?
According to ancient traditions, the site of the house of the tanner is located at this site, close to the ancient port and near the lighthouse. The location is based on the explicit description of Acts ("...whose house is by the sea"). However, the Roman Catholic tradition holds that the house is located at the site of St. Peter's church.
The house is located in one of the alleys (named after Simon the Tanner) within the old city of Jaffa, just above the ancient port. The entrance is on the east side, as seen below. The house belongs to the Armenian family of Zakarian.
This structure is actually a small mosque, named Jama al-Budrus (Peter's name in Arabic, based on the Greek name of Petrus). It was constructed in 1730, and includes a minaret tower (call for prayer tower) which is seen behind the wall.
Click on the photos to view in higher resolution...
Above the door is an Arabic inscription. (translation pending)
The interior of the house will be added in the future.
Simon-the-Tanner's house is adjacent to the Jaffa port old lighthouse. The minaret tower of the mosque, where the house is located, is seen just behind it. This picture is taken from the pier, on the west side of the Tanner's house:
The modern lighthouse was constructed in the 20th century above the base of an older lighthouse from 1865.
Acts tells how Peter raised Tabitha/Dorcas from the dead, when he came from Lydda (Lod) to Joppa (Jaffa). According to tradition, this resurrection was performed on the roof ("upper chamber") of the house of Simon the tanner, where Peter was lodging.
"Now there was at Joppa a
certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this
woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. And it came to pass
in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they
laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and
the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men,
desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. Then Peter arose and
went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and
all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which
Dorcas made, while she was with them.
But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord".
In this text Cornelius, a Centurion from Caesarea, is commanded to send his men to St. Peter who was staying at a house in Joppa.
"And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.
Peter has a dream, which he interprets as a directive to convert gentiles such as Cornelius:
On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate, And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.
Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?
And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him".
St. Peter reports to the church on the previous events:
"But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven. And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house: And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;"
* Simon and Peter: