Are you planning your next – or first pilgrimage to Israel? Or maybe you just have a soft spot for historical and religiously significant attractions? Some of the most memorable stories and miracles significant to Christianity took place in the immediate vicinity of the northern Galilee city of Tabgha and ancient site of Capernaum.
It is there that the Church of the Beatitudes can be found. A small, octogonal Catholic church commemorating the transcendental Sermon on the Mount. Built in 1938 on a low hill overlooking the sea, the glorious church, ornately adorned in breathtaking mosaic, aptly captures the wonders and virtues it was designed to represent. A truly wondrous place, the Church of the Beatitudes is a must-see on your next Israel trip.
It is here, at the Church of the Beatitudes, that Jesus is said to have uttered eight phrases, including, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” and “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are the children of God”, passages meant to uplift and inspire those who are downtrodden, believers and social activists. The eight sides of the church were designed to represent the eight Beatitudes. They are also written out in Latin, stained glass windows – an introspective look into the heart and soul of each pilgrim who enters its doors.
A giant horizontal mosaic, the Church of the Beatitude’s floor depicts the four cardinal and three theological virtues: prudence, temperance, justice, courage, faith, hope and charity. It was put together with the utmost precision and care, in reverence to the significant, spiritual content it covers. When you walk into the church, there is a sweeping feeling of spiritual uplift, as the mosaic zeros in on a central focal point – the stunning central altar and golden dome overhead.
Head to the Church of the Beatitudes for a truly spiritual experience. You will be entranced by the opulent design and decor, and inspired by the words of wisdom they represent, regardless of your religious affiliation. For those traveling alone, the site is open daily between 8:30 and 12:00 and 14:30 to 17:00, with a 16:00 closing time in winter. Most groups visit this site as part of their tour of the Galilee, on the second or third day of the itinerary. Entrance is free (apart from a fee for cars entering the parking lot).
If you love the arts, history or culture, the Church of the Beatitudes is one site you’ll want to make sure not to miss the next time you visit Israel.