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- Holy Sites in Galilee - part two
If you came to this page directly, you might wish to read a page with an introduction to this section or part one first.
Mount of Beatitudes
According to the prevailing tradition, the site where Jesus Christ delivered the Sermon on the Mount is a very small elevation of the ground commanding a fine view on the Lake of Tiberias. It could not be more different from how some movies have represented it (e.g. The Bible, a TV series for History Channel - it opens in another window).
In 1938 Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi designed a large church attached to a Franciscan nunnery. Barluzzi (1884-1960) spent most of his life in the Holy Land where he built several churches in different styles. That at Mount of Beatitudes is pleasing to the eye (at least to an Italian eye).
The places made most particularly celebrated by the presence of Christ are nearly all right here in full view, and within cannon-shot of Capernaum.
Mark Twain - The Pilgrims Abroad - 1869
We reached Tabor safely. (..) We never saw a human being on the whole route, much less lawless hordes of Bedouins. Tabor stands solitary and alone, a giant sentinel above the Plain of Esdraelon. It rises some fourteen hundred feet above the surrounding level, a green, wooden cone, symmetrical and full of grace - a prominent landmark, and one that is exceedingly pleasant to eyes surfeited with the repulsive monotony of desert Syria. We climbed the steep path to its summit, through breezy glades of thorn and oak. M. Twain
Two hours east of Nazareth was Mount Tabor whose round top soars considerably above the heights near it. (..) We arrived at ten minutes past eight at the foot of Mount Tabor on the northwest side where stands a very small village retaining its ancient name of Deborah, near which it is said Sisera was nailed to the ground by Jael. We immediately ascended the mountain at the top of which we stopped at a quarter past nine. The ascent was very steep and we had to climb over large masses of rock, but I should not think the perpendicular height above half a mile. At the top we found a field of corn, but in general the mountain is scattered with trees chiefly oaks and covered with high grass and such abundance of flowers and herbs that the air is strongly perfumed.
William Turner - Journal of a Tour in the Levant - 1820
On the summit are considerable ruins of an old convent and church. Tabor is very interesting from a tradition extant in the time of St Jerome that it was the scene of our Saviour's Transfiguration. W. Turner
There is nothing about Tabor (except we concede that it was the scene of the Transfiguration), but some gray old ruins, stacked up there in all ages of the world from the days of stout Gideon and parties that flourished thirty centuries ago to the fresh yesterday of Crusading times. It has its Greek Convent, and the coffee there is good, but never a splinter of the true cross or bone of a hallowed saint to arrest the idle thoughts of worldlings and turn them into graver channels. A Catholic church is nothing to me that has no relics. M. Twain
The identification of Mount Tabor with the site where the Transfiguration occurred is not linked to a specific reference in the Gospels. Its isolation, which makes it visible from most parts of Galilee, and its location, between Nazareth where Jesus was born and the Sea of Galilee where he preached, were the key factors which led early Church Fathers to assume Mount Tabor was the site of the Transfiguration.
The view from it is extensive and beautiful, but has no great variety. It consists of the plain of Esdraelon bounded on every side by mountains W. Turner
The view presented from its highest peak was almost beautiful. Below, was the broad, level plain of Esdraelon, checkered with fields like a chess-board, and full as smooth and level, seemingly; dotted about its borders with white, compact villages, and faintly penciled, far and near, with the curving lines of roads and trails. When it is robed in the fresh verdure of spring, it must form a charming picture, even by itself. M. Twain
See the other holy sites of Galilee.
Banias (Caesarea Philippi)
Turner's excursion to Kaifah (Haifa)
A Glimpse of Tel Aviv