The Mount of the Beatitudes

The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most powerful, all-embracing social messages brought to the world by Jesus. Although known mainly only by its first nine verses the entire chapter of Mark V is devoted to it.

It is interesting to note how much Jesus relied upon his own undeniable orthodox Jewish background in his teachings, even here.
The Beatitudes open with the nine-fold phrase "Blessed are they....." Three times during each day - morning, noon and evening, Jews recite a prayer taken from two Psalms, the opening verses of which are "Blessed (or happy) are they....." Since the prayer is recited three times a day, it follows that the phrase "Blessed are they" is repeated nine times - the same number of times that Jesus uses the phrase in the sermon.

This beautiful Basilica was built during the 1930's to a design of Antonio Barluzzi, the "father" of many churches in Israel. Built in the form of an octagon - one for each of the verses (although strictly there are nine such verses), it is composed of two types of stone - the local basalt from the extinct volcanoes of the Golan Heights, and the local white limestone. When built, a mosaic inscription on the floor of the vestibule, besides quoting the date of its construction added an inscription stating it was the "15th Year of the Italian People", which corresponded with the rise of the fascist government in Italy in 1922. The implication that before that there had been no Italian people, or that the church had been built on the orders of Mussolini, created a political storm and eventually all signs of the entire mosaic inscription were removed.

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