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Christian Holy Sites: The Shrine of the Beatitudes

"Now when he 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.’" (Matthew 5:1-3)

The place of the Beatitudes mentioned by the 4th-century pilgrim, the Lady Egeria, is on the hillside some 60 meters northeast of the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes, just above the road leading to Capernaum.

In 1937, a more convenient (and dramatic) site for a new shrine of the Beatitudes was selected further up the hill.

The building was designed by Antonio Barluzzi in neo-Renaissance style. Built of contrasting black basalt and white limestone, it has arched porticos on each of the four sides. The one-storey building is surmounted by a buttressed octagonal drum and dome rising above the main chapel. The octagonal shape commemorates the Eight Beatitudes. The sanctuary around the altar is encircled by an open, arched ambulatory. Windows in the outer wall permit a panoramic view of Lake Kinneret.

The shrine and adjoining hospice for pilgrims are served by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The property itself is owned by an Italian Catholic society (Associazione Nazionale per soccorrere i Missionari Italiani).

In January 1999, a foundation stone was laid for the nearby Domus Galilaeae, a new spirituality center for Christian pilgrims and scholars. The foundation stone comes from the tomb of St. Peter in Rome and was blessed by His Holiness Pope John Paul II on Christmas Eve 1998.

Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry