“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 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 the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Matt 5:3-11 KJV).
As the name suggests, this is the hill upon which Jesus was said to have preached the “Sermon on the Mount”. The Mt. of Beatitudes overlooks the four-mile long Plain of Gennesaret, an area famed for its fertility. The historian Josephus said this plain was the location of “nature’s crowning achievement.” Several times the New Testament records that Jesus was in this area including when He healed the multitudes here and faced condemnation from the Pharisees for ritual impurity (Mark 6-7). The lie of the land next to the church forms a natural amphitheater sloping down to the lake side. It is more likely that Jesus stood at the bottom of the hill.
The mountain is topped by a Catholic chapel built in 1939 by the Franciscan Sisters with the support of the Italian ruler Mussolini. The building was constructed by the noted architect Antonio Barluzzi.
The centrally placed altar is highlighted by a slender arch of alabaster and onyx. Around it, the seven virtues of the Catholic faith (justice, charity, prudence, faith, fortitude, hope and temperance) are depicted by symbols in the mosaic floor. The verses and symbols that relate to the sermons are written on mosaics on the floor of the church and around the altar.
Each of the eight sides of the church features a Beatitude in Latin in stained glass.
Beautifully sculptured gardens reflect the events that happened in this area. Here, the Biblical account of the breaking and multiplication of the bread and fish is shared in this rock garden.
The garden has statues, benches and signs with excerpts from the Bible.
In front of the church, beautiful mosaics share Biblical stories and scriptures. This section shows Song of Songs 4:11 (top left), Moses and Numbers 12:3 (top right), and the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:60).