The Mountain of the Beatitudes got its name from the event documented in Matthew 5: “Now when he [Jesus] 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…’” Verses 3 to 11 begin with the words “Blessed are…”, hence the name Beatitudes, which mean in Latin “blessings” (cf. Luke 6).
The exact location of the mountain is not mentioned in the Gospels. Moreover, according to Luke the event did not take place on a mountain, but rather on “on a level place” (Luke 6:17).
Tracking the Mount of Beatitudes
In the 4th century pilgrim Aetheria (or Egeria) stated a cave was marking the place of the Jesus’ sermon, above the site of the miraculous multiplication of fish and bread. That site has been identified at Tabgha, 2.5 km west of Capernaum. Excavations at site uncovered some finds from the Byzantine period, but it seems that later this site was abandoned.
In the 18th century, some pilgrims identified the site of the Beatitudes at the cliff of Arbel, on the western shores of the Sea of Galilee. Others argue the site should be identified at Horns of Hattin, a hill west of Tiberias.
The Modern site of Mount of Beatitudes
The best-known site as “Mountain of the Beatitudes” today was declared and built by the Franciscan sisters in 1939 on a hill above Capernaum. The noted architect, Antonio Berluzzi, designed a beautiful octagonal shrine to commemorate the eight beatitudes, with stunning panoramas of the Sea of Galilee.
In the year 2,000 John Paul II gave a mass to a crowd of about 100,000 Catholics on the western part of the mountain. This event proved that the site could indeed accommodate large crowds. Nevertheless, this identification remains a modern era speculation.
Where did Jesus choose his disciples?
The Mountain of Beatitudes is perhaps also the place where Jesus chose his twelve disciples. “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them…” (Luke 6:12-16. Cf. Mark 3:13). Despite that, the Greek-Orthodox Church favored commemorating the disciples of Jesus at a church built in Capernaum, by the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Contact Us to Inquire About a Tour to the Site
Our Friends, Sergio and Rhoda, Presenting a Private Tour to Mount of Beatitudes
Points of Interest in the Area
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