THE MONASTERY OF MAR SABA -SOUTH EAST OF JERUSALEM :THE AVANT GARDE OF THE JERUSALEMITE MONASTRIES
This scientific paper aims to identify an important monastery that was established in the fifth century AD southeast of Jerusalem i.e. two centuries before the arrival of Islam. That monastery is: Mar Saba Monastery: After Saint Saba (439-532 A.D.) who lived an ascetic life in a cave 15 kilometers southeast of Jerusalem over a valley that extends from the foothill of Mount Al-Tur in Jerusalem and runs into the Dead Sea. The Valley is mentioned in the Bible as "Kidron" while others call it "Yehushevat" or the Valley of Tears (People call it now Wadi Al-Nar or the Inferno Valley ). Saint Saba was followed by other monks who lived in the surrounding caves. In 483 A.D. Saint Saba and his followers began to build a monastery in the place which became of its proximity to Jerusalem. It hosted a large number of monks from different denominations, and contained a distinguished library throughout history. That monastery became a place of pilgrimages for travelers, researchers, and Jerusalem visitors over a period of sixteen centuries. It was also known for Christian pilgrims, since it hosted thousands of monks. This study also aims to provide sufficient data about Saint Saba and his monastery. It also discusses how the monastery was developed throughout history, its pertinence to Jerusalem, and the role it played in attracting tourists and travelers to the Holy Land as well as in the cultural development in Jerusalem and the vicinity.
Keywords: Jerusalem (Bayt al-maqdes), Monastery, Mar Saba.