Although it is of immense importance to the Christian world, and Israel itself, the Megiddo prison church has been covered up with dirt and tarpaulins until more funding for the project can be secured.

The church, or “prayer hall,” was discovered in late 2005 by an inmate of the prison, Ramil Razilo, during salvage operations to make way for the expansion of the maximum security prison at Megiddo. When the Israel Antiquities Authority announced that it had uncovered what could be the earliest Christian church in the Holy Land, containing the earliest known mention of Jesus Christ in Israel, there was a flurry of media reports around the globe.

The find was considered important enough to Israel President Moshe Katsav that when he visited Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in November 2005, he took pictures of the newly discovered mosaic floor with him to present to the pontiff. The pope expressed a keen desire to visit Israel and see the church.

In January 2006, President Katsav and 15 leaders of the Israeli Christian elite, including Greek Orthodox Bishop Irenious I, Melkite Archbishop Emeritus Boutros Mualem and several Coptic dignitaries, visited the site and were briefed on the content and importance of the mosaics and archaeological finds by IAA excavation director Yotam Tepper.

In May, the Israel Postal Service issued a 15-shekel stamp featuring the fish mosaic from the church.

Hopes were that not only the pope, but also thousands of visitors and pilgrims, would travel to Megiddo, and the IAA had plans to turn the area into a tourist attraction, moving the prison elsewhere in order to keep the church in its original context. Nearby Tel Megiddo is already a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered to be the place mentioned in Revelation 16:16 where God will gather all the kings of the world together for the ultimate battle at the end of time. There were even thoughts of expanding a nearby airstrip to accommodate the anticipated influx of Christian pilgrims to the area.