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A journey to one of the oldest monasteries in the world - Mar Saba Monastery, Judean Desert The greatest of the ancient monasteries dotting the wilderness of the Judaean Desert, Mar Saba hangs dramatically …More
A journey to one of the oldest monasteries in the world - Mar Saba Monastery, Judean Desert
The greatest of the ancient monasteries dotting the wilderness of the Judaean Desert, Mar Saba hangs dramatically down the cliff edge of a deep ravine. The grey-domed Greek Orthodox complex was established in the 5th century by St Sabas (Mar Saba in Arabic), a monk from central Turkey, and was largely rebuilt following a major earthquake in 1834. Its remote location is 15 kilometers east of Bethlehem, off route 398, and reached down a steep road. During its heyday, the monastery was home to more than 300 monks. Though it remains a functioning desert monastery, its numbers have dropped to fewer than 20 in the 21st century. Mar Saba Occupied almost continuously since its founding, Mar Saba ranks with St Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as one of the oldest inhabited monasteries in the world. It also provides an enduring reminder of the age-old tradition of holy people leaving behind worldly distractions and seeking God in the solitude of the desert. Part of the Mar Saba tradition is the exclusion of women visitors. They may only look over the complex from a vantage point called the Women’s Tower — built, according to tradition, by St Sabas’ mother, who was also forbidden to enter the monastery. A thick wall and slit-like windows give Mar Saba the appearance of a fortress. These defensive features recall plundering by the Persians in 615 and attacks from Bedouins in the following centuries. What began as a series of cell caves along two kilometers of cliffs has been consolidated into a complex containing two churches, several chapels, a common dining room, kitchen storerooms, 14 cisterns, cells for monks, and a hostel for visitors. From the entrance, a low door in the western wall, a stepped passageway descends to the central courtyard. In the center is a hexagon-shaped dome which was once the tomb of St Sabas. During the Crusades, the saint’s body was taken to Venice. Pope Paul VI arranged for its return after his Holy Land visit in 1964, and it now lies in a glass case in the main church. This church, with a large blue dome and small bell tower, is dedicated to the Theotokos (Mother of God). From the entrance area, a stairway leads to a series of small chapels — one in the cramped cave where a brilliant monk, St John Damascene, spent 20 years in the 8th century writing classic defenses of Christianity against heresy and Islam. On the northwest side of the courtyard is the second church, built into a grotto in the rock. It is dedicated to St Nicholas. The skulls of monks killed by Persian invaders are displayed in the sacristy and their bones are collected behind a grille. In contrast to the austere simplicity of the monks’ lifestyle, church and chapel walls glitter with the gold of innumerable icons, many were donated to the monastery by the Russian government in the 19th century. Zahi Shaked A tour guide in Israel and his camera zahigo25@walla.com +972-54-6905522 tel סיור עם מורה הדרך ומדריך הטיולים צחי שקד 0546905522 My name is Zahi Shaked In 2000 I became a registered licensed tourist guide. My dedication in life is to pass on the ancient history of the Holy Land.
Information about Mar Saba Monastery itself will be provided after this announcement. Unfortunately, I have not been able to work as a tour guide as from Feb 2020 Should you wish to support me and my videos please subscribe to my channel and let me guide you through the Holy Land via my videos. In this way, I will be able to continue to do my work of uploading to YouTube. Upon your request and in return I am very much happy to pray for you at the Western Wall and/or light a candle in your name at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or anywhere else in the Holy Land of Israel. Should you have a personal request I will be more than happy to respond and even film it in a personal video. Donations: Zahi Shaked is Videos, Tourism, Religion - Christianity and Judaism Kindly share this site with your other friends/family that are interested in the rich and sacred history of Israel. Thank you so much Your tour guide Zahi Shaked