Church of the Beatitudes
|Church of the Beatitudes|
Located on a small hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee, and built on the traditional site of Jesus' delivery of the Sermon on the Mount, pilgrims are known to have commemorated this site since at least the 4th century. In her itinerary of the Holy Land, after describing the Church of the Loaves and Fishes, the pilgrim Egeria (ca. 381 CE) writes, "Near there on a mountain is the cave to which the Savior climbed and spoke the Beatitudes." The current church sits near the ruins of a small Byzantine era church dating to the late 4th century, which contains a rock-cut cistern beneath it and the remains of a small monastery to its southeast. Part of the original mosaic floor has also been recovered and is now on display in Capernaum. Both Popes Paul VI and John Paul II celebrated Mass at the church during their pastoral visits to the Holy Land.
Design and construction
The modern church was built between 1936 and 1938 near the site of the fourth century Byzantine ruins. The floor plan is octagonal, the eight sides representing the eight Beatitudes. The church is Byzantine in style with a marble veneer casing the lower walls and gold mosaic in the dome. In front of the church are mosaic symbols on the pavement representing Justice, Prudence, Fortitude, Temperance, Faith, Hope, and Charity.
Jerome Murphy-O'Connor describes the selection of the site thus; "It was perhaps inevitable that this well-watered area with its shade trees on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, where Byzantine pilgrims ate their picnics, should have been identified as the location of two episodes involving the consumption of food, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes and the conferral on Peter of the responsibility of leadership after a fish breakfast. Then it became convenient to localize the Sermon of the Mount on the small hill nearby." (The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700, p. 277) Regardless of whether this is the very spot, the Church of the Beatitudes stands in the 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).
The church is maintained and overseen by the Franciscan Order.
Churches with the same name
- A United Church of Christ church in Phoenix, Arizona, USA
- An old Catholic church in Trainer, Pennsylvania, USA
- An American Baptist church in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA.
- "Church of the Beatitudes - Pilgrimage to the Holy Land". wordbytes.org. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
- Rebecca Harrison (2008-01-10). "FACTBOX: Five facts about the Church of the Beatitudes". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
- The Church of the Beatitudes in Phoenix