What Are the Eight Beatitudes?

The Fulfillment of the Christian life

Sermon on the Mount
The Sermon on the Mount, from The Life of Our Lord, published by Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (London c.1880). Culture Club/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Beatitude is a word that means "supreme blessedness." The Church tells us, for instance, that the saints in Heaven live in a state of perpetual beatitude. Most of the time, however, when people use the word they are referring to the Eight Beatitudes, which were delivered by Jesus Christ to His disciples during His Sermon on the Mount.

What Are the Eight Beatitudes?

The Eight Beatitudes form the core of the Christian life.

As Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., writes in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, they are the "promises of happiness made by Christ to those who faithfully accept his teaching and follow his divine example." While, as mentioned, we refer to those in Heaven as in a state of beatitude, the happiness promised in the Eight Beatitudes is not something to be found in the future, in our next life, but right here and now by those who live their lives in accordance with the will of Christ.

Where Are the Beatitudes Found in the Bible?

There are two versions of the Beatitudes, one from the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 5:3-12) and one from the Gospel of Luke (Luke 6:20-24). In Matthew, the Eight Beatitudes were delivered by Christ during the Sermon on the Mount; in Luke, a shorter version is delivered in the lesser-known Sermon on the Plain. The text of the Beatitudes given here is from Saint Matthew, the version most commonly quoted and from which we derive the traditional count of Eight Beatitudes.

(The final verse, "Blessed are ye . . . ," is not counted as one of the Eight Beatitudes.)

The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12)

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.

  • Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)

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