PLACES TO VISIT IN TABGHA
The Mount of the Beatitudes is the traditional site where Jesus uttered the immortal words of the beatitudes and the most wonderful principles of the blessed life. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5) In 1937, the Holy Land Franciscans built a church over the mount with a view of the lake. The spacious slope of the Mount of Beatitudes (also known as Mount Eremos, a Greek word meaning solitary or uninhabited) would have provided ample space for a large crowd to gather to hear Jesus.
The Church of the Beatitudes, an elegant octagonal building with colonnaded cloisters, blends into the slope rather than dominating it. The centrally placed altar is surmounted by a slender arch of alabaster and onyx. Around it, the seven virtues (justice, charity, prudence, faith, fortitude, hope and temperance) are depicted by symbols in the mosaic floor. In the landscaped garden, three altars are provided for group worship.
The name of Tabgha comes from the Greek word Heptapegon meaning seven springs. It is a place with a plentiful supply of water. Traditionally, this site was where Jesus fed 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. (Mark 6:36-44, Matthew 14:13-21, John 6:1-6) Two successive Byzantine churches were built here in the 4th and 5th centuries. In 1932, the remains of a Byzantine church were discovered with the best-preserved mosaic in all of Israel. On the stone, which serves as the altar, there is a mosaic of a basket of loaves flanked by two fish. The floor is covered with a beautiful mosaic of birds, fish, beasts, and flowers of the lake region. In 1934, a new church was built over the site of the Byzantine church. Two hundred yards away is the Church of St. Peter’s Primacy built in 1934 in basalt over a massive rock called the “Mensa Christi.” It is the traditional site where the Risen Lord appeared to His disciples, prepared breakfast for them and gave Peter the pastoral commission of, “Feed my Sheep.” (John 21:9)