Located on a small hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee near Tabgha, the Mount of Beatitudes is the traditional site of Jesus' delivery of the Sermon on the Mount, probably the most famous sermon of all time. Pilgrims have been drawn to this scenic place since at least the 4th century.
In the Bible
"Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." (Mt 5:1-5)
It is possible that this is the actual site of the Sermon on the Mount, but it is not terribly likely. There is no specific evidence for identification of the site before the 4th century, but it is reasonable to place the Sermon here since Jesus was based in Capernaum not far away.
Jerome Murphy O'Connor attributes the selection of the site to pilgrims' own experiences in the area:
Regardless of whether this is the very spot, the Church of the Beatitudes stands in the right general area and in a very similar setting to where Jesus would have stood as he delivered his famous sermon. As Murphy-O'Connor puts it, from here "one can see virtually all the places in which Jesus lived and worked" (p.280).
History of Mount of Beatitudes
Pilgrims are known to have commemorated the Sermon on the Mount near here since the 4th century. After describing the Church of the Loaves and Fishes, the Spanish pilgrim Egeria (c.381) wrote, "Near there on a mountain is the cave to which the Savior climbed and spoke the Beatitudes."
Ruins of a small church dated to the late 4th century have been discovered downhill from the present church. It has a rock-cut cistern beneath it and the remains of a little monastery to its south and southeast. Part of the mosaic floor was recovered and is now on display in Capernaum. The present church was built in 1938.
What to See at Mount of Beatitudes
Designed by the architect A. Barluzzi, the Catholic church on the Mount of Beatitudes is Byzantine in style. Its octagonal shape represents the eight beatitudes. It has a marble veneer casing the lower walls and gold mosaic in the dome.
The chief attraction here, though, is the setting. The cool and quiet gardens overlooking the Sea of Galilee and the landscape where Jesus conducted his ministry make an excellent place to contemplate some of the best-known Christian teachings.
Quick Facts on Mount of Beatitudes
|Names:||Church of the Beatitudes · Church of the Sermon on the Mount · Mount of Beatitudes|
|Categories:||churches; biblical sites|
|Dates:||4th C; 1938|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||32.880858° N, 35.555792° E|
|Hours:||Daily 8:30-12 & 2:30-5; closes at 4 in winter|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Mount of Beatitudes|
- Kay Prag, Blue Guide to Israel and the Palestinian Territories (Black and Norton, 2002), 425.
- Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, Oxford Archaeological Guides: The Holy Land (Oxford, 1998), 279-80.
Map of Mount of Beatitudes, Tabgha
Below is a location map and aerial view of Mount of Beatitudes. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.