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Mar Saba – دير مار سابا‎ – מנזר מר סבא *

Mar Saba Monastery, 2011 Photo: יוצר Jean & Nathalie

The Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas, known in Syriac as Mar Saba is the largest monastery in Israel’s Judaean Desert. This Eastern Orthodox Christian monastery lies to the south and west of the capital city Jerusalam – halfway between the Old City of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea -10KM east of Bethlehem. Mar Saba is named after Saint Sabas, the monk who established the monastery in the 5th century. Mar Saba hangs dramatically down the cliff edge of a deep ravine of the Kidron Creek which protects it from harm.

Medieval icon of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified.
Medieval icon of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified.

The monastery holds the relics of Saint Sabbas.  When the Crusaders left the Holy Land they transferred Saba’s bones to Venice, which were returned here only in 1965.

קברו של סבאס בתוך המנזר Photo: Sir kiss
קברו של סבאס בתוך המנזר
Photo: Sir kiss

Mar Saba was also the home of St. John of Damascus (676 – 749) and was important in the historical development of the liturgy of the Orthodox Church – the Typicon of Saint Sabas. This became a book of directions for worship services and ceremonies —  standard for the Orthodox world up till the 19th century.

Air Vuz Drone Videos – by Rea Burla – Mar Saba

In 614 after the Persian invasion, the monastery was almost destroyed, but unlike most of the other monasteries in Eretz Yisrael, this one continued to exist and was restored in 629.

גולגולות נזירי המנזר שנטבחו בידי הפרסים בשנת 614
גולגולות נזירי המנזר שנטבחו בידי הפרסים בשנת 614

During the peak times it housed about 500 monks. Today, the complex houses around 20 monks. The entranced of women is restricted – and can access only one of the exterior towers.

The monastery is closed for visitors on Wednesdays and Fridays (the fasting days of the week).

Tel.: 972-2-2773135

Open: Open daily except Wednesdays and Fridays, 8am-4pm (ring bell). Only men may enter monastery; women are admitted only to Women’s Tower.

Mar Saba seen from the air. Photo: Godot13
Mar Saba seen from the air.
Photo: Godot13

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