Famous for being the site wherein Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, the Mount of Beatitudes in located in Israel's northern region, adjacent to the Hebrew town of Ginosar and in close proximity to the Sea of Galilee (Kineret in Hebrew).
The mountain is named after the blessings that mark the beginning of Christ's sermon. The beatitudes (blessings), nine in number, are documented in the Gospels of Mark and Luke and consist of Jesus' prayers for his followers. In the beatitudes Jesus describes the kingdom of heaven, proceeding to count the characteristics a devout man must have to enter it. Expressions now used in our day to day language such as "salt o the earth" and "light of the world", as well the cornerstones of our moral actions such as the injunction to "turn the other cheek", "judge not lest you be judged" or the command to practice the "golden rule", find their origins in the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount thus serves as an important piece of literature, not only for its scriptural significance if not also for the moral code that it proposes.
Standing atop the Mount of Beatitudes and observing the landscape at its feet, it becomes clear why it was here, and not anywhere else, that Christ gave his famed sermon. As far as practicality goes, the Mount of Beatitudes offers a unique combination of high and low altitudes. While the mountain has two pointy tops that can be seen from afar, it also features a plateau-like valley between the two horned tops, which in Biblical times served as a kind of natural amphitheatre easily able to contain the multitudes that came to hear the sermon.
For geographical reasons, the Mount of Beatitudes in located at the epicenter of Jesus' ministry with the Sea of Galilee and the city of Tiberias to its east, and Nazareth as well as Mount Tabor to its south.
Whether religious or secular, when on a tour to the Holy Land be sure not to miss the historical landmark that is the Mount of Beatitudes.
The Mount of Beatitudes Church
Built in 1939 by the Franciscans, the Mout of Beatitudes Church rests high atop the mountain range, directly above the town of Ein-Sheva (Tabcha). The beautiful basilica was designed by famed Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi, and is one of the many pilgrimage destinations in Israel.
Inside the church, visitors will find the delicately decorated floors. These are lined with mosaics consisting of verses from the Gospels of Mark and Luke. Like its mosaic floors, the church's sealing carries the opening verse of the Sermon on the Mount, "blessed are…".
Also inside the church are two glass cases containing memorabilia from the visits of Pope Paul IV and Pope John Paul II in Israel.
When on a Christian tour to Israel and visiting the Mount of Beatitudes, it is well worth your time to visit this beautiful Franciscan basilica and its adjacent gardens.