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Saint George Monastery in Wadi Qelt

Updated: Oct 2, 2022

The full name of the monastery, built on a cliff of Wadi Qelt in the Judean Desert, is the Monastery of Saints John and George of Choziba.

In the year 420, some solitary monks settled near a large cave in the Judean Desert. Elijah, the prophet, they believed, hid there when Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab, persecuted him (after he slaughtered the four hundred prophets of Baal in the Kishon River). According to the belief, the crows fed and watered Elijah while he was hiding in a cave.

The solitary monks would only meet on weekends for common prayers. Then, in 520, John of Thebes turned the place into an organized monastery. Finally, in the sixth and seventh centuries, the site became a significant spiritual factor under George of Choziba - after whom the monastery is named to this day.

The monastery was destroyed in 614 by the Persians, who murdered the 14 monks in it. It was restored during the Crusades, abandoned with the Arab conquest, and re-established in 1878 by the Jerusalem Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Church.

The monastery has three floors. On the top level is the Holy Cave. In addition to Elijah's story, the monks believe that this is where Jesus' grandfather was informed that his wife would give birth to the Virgin Mary. On the middle floor is a church and a house of prayer, a bell tower and a balcony, and on the lower floor are the tombs of monks and warehouses.

In the nearby cliffs, there are secluded caves for the monks.

Usually, the monastery is open to pilgrims and visitor. However, due to the corona crisis, it is impossible to visit until further notice. Still, it is worth traveling just to see it.

There are two incredible viewpoints to see the monastery. The first point can be identified by a large cross towering over a hill.

First viewpoint location:

The second observation point is near the descent gate to the monastery. With an easy three-minute walk, you will reach a shaded observation deck.

At both points, some hawkers will try to sell you Keffiyehs (a traditional Middle Eastern headdress), dates, and juice. So it is best to be prepared with small cash.

Enjoy 🤗

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