Deir Hajla - Monastery of Saint Gerasimus
Updated: Oct 2, 2022
According to Christian tradition, after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph decided to flee with him to Egypt - for fear that the male son would be executed by Herod. They spent the night at this location.
In the fifth century AD, a laura was founded here – a monastery consisting of a cluster of caves for hermits. The monastery was named after the "Beit Hogla" ("House of Hogla"), a biblical Jewish settlement mentioned in the book of Joshua.
The monastery is dedicated to St. Gerasmus (hence also called St. Gerasmus), who ran it in its early years. Gerasimus became famous as a miracle worker and patron of animals. The tradition tells of an incident in which Gerasimus extracted a thorn from a wounded lion's leg and healed him. The lion has accompanied him ever since, and when the monk died - he lay on his grave and died with him.
The monastery was destroyed in a Persian invasion in 614. It was later restored and beaten several times - mainly due to earthquakes. The last renovation was carried out in 1890 by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.
The monastery has two floors, with the church on the second floor. It is decorated with murals, icons, and a beautiful mosaic floor. Some of the decorations are ancient, and others are restored. During the last renovation in the late 19th century, parts of the original mosaic were incorporated throughout the monastery.
At the entrance to the church are two glass cabinets - one shows the skulls of monks who were slaughtered in the Persian invasion in 614. The other cabinet shows the remains of monks killed in an earthquake in the 19th century.
🥤 🧻 There are toilets and canteen on site.
The monastery and the church are unique and impressive. Highly recommended.
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