Mount Beatitudes is located on a low hill on the north-west shore of the Sea of Galilee. It offers a spectacular view over the Sea of Galilee, on clear days all the way to the south end, as well as the surrounding mountains of Galilee and Golan.
We can only call the site traditional, as more than four hundred years passed between the original event and the building of the first church there in the 4th century. Only very few ruins remain of this early church in the vicinity of the modern site.
The Sermon on the Mount
Modern Mount Beatitudes is located within easy walk of Capernaum. In fact Capernaum can be seen from the balcony of the modern church.
This is the place where traditionally the Sermon of the Mount (Luke 5: 3-11) (Revised Standard Version) took place. The Sermon of the Mount is the longest of all the teachings of Jesus, and starts with the 8 Beatitudes:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth
Blessed are those who hunder and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs the the kingdom of heaven
Blessed are you when men rvile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely
on my account …
Luke 5: 3-11 (Revised Standard Version)
The western slope of Mount Beatitude has a unique feature. It is almost like a Roman style theater. If someone stands or sits on the lower slope and talks, the talk can be heard higher up and quite clearly. Maybe this was the reason the Byzatines chose this hill rather than any of the other hills around.
Mount Beatitudes has for the last app. 150 years belonged to the Fransiscan Order and is administered by The Little Sisters Order. In 1938 they commissioned the Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi to build a church.
Barluzzi decided to use an octagonal outlay, so that when standing inside the church looking out, the view is slightly different. Each side in the octagonal represents one of the Beatitudes. He may also have chosen the octagonal shape, as that was a very popular shape in the Byzantine period.
The Church on Mount Beatitudes is one of 11 churches that Barluzzi built in Palestine.
For many years the monastery not only served the White Sisters. It was also used as a hostel. A few years ago, a new building was erected for this purpose, with all modern facilities. This may be the place to say for anyone in need of quiet time with spectacular view over the Sea of Galilee.
Even if you don’t stay here, take time to enjoy the gardens, with small groves and seating spaces. The seating areas have been designed for groups to hold service or time for teaching. Most of them offer spectacular views over the Sea of Galilee.