Church of the Beatitudes, Galilee

The Church of the Beatitudes overlooking Lake Galilee is Barluzzi’s only church on a virgin site. The ruins of the original fourth century church, which lasted until the Islamic period in the seventh century can be seen just north of the road running past the Church of the Loaves and Fishes. There are also the remains of a mosaic now at Capernaum.

In 1937 the National Association to Aid Italian Missionaries (the owners of the property), decided to build a new church further up the hillside with a better view over the lake, giving the impression of really standing on the Mount of Beatitudes. Barluzzi designed a church with an octagonal sanctuary representing the eight beatitudes with an ambulatory encircling the worship area, and external sheltered verandah, to give pilgrims views across the lake.

These form the two main external features. A copper dome rides above the arcaded verandah of the church which is built of local black basalt and lighter imported stone.

The interior is full of light with eye level windows with views over the lake and surrounding hills framed by the verandah columns. Rectangular clerestorey windows with texts of the beatitudes, and further arched windows round the the drum of the dome give more light from above. The dome itself is said to symbolize the ninth and crowning beatitude.

The interior walls are simple, in grey marble, but the interior of the dome glitters with gold mosaic against a blue background. The mosaic floor is decorated with symbols of the various Christian virtues. The solid marble altar stands right in the middle of the church surmounted by a baldachino supported by four delicately wrought columns.



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