Pinsteps. St. George the Hozevite Monastery
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Throughout its history, the Monastery has been known by various names, including the Monastery of Choziba, Hoziba, Chozeva, or Hozeva. After the death of St. George of Choziba, it became known as the Monastery of Saint George of Choziba or St. George the Hozevite Monastery. Today, it is commonly known as simply St. George's Monastery or Mar Jaris in Arabic. It is also often referred to as St. George Monastery in Wadi Qelt or St. George Monastery (Jericho) to differentiate it from other religious sites that bear the name of St. George of Lydda.

The origins of monastic life at St. George's Monastery date back to around 420 CE, when a group of monks established a lavra in the area. These monks sought the desert experience of the prophets and settled near a cave where they believed Elijah was fed by ravens. The hermits living in nearby caves would gather at the monastery for a weekly mass and communal meal.

In the late 5th or early 6th century, the lavra was reorganized as a monastery by John of Thebes, also known as Saint John of Choziba, who had come to Syria Palaestina from Egypt. During this time, the monastery was dedicated to the Mother of God.

Under the leadership of Saint George of Choziba, who died around 620 CE, the monastery became an important spiritual center. It was eventually renamed after him and contained a small chapel dedicated to Saint Stephen and a church of the Virgin Mary. However, in 614 CE, the monastery was destroyed by the Persians and the fourteen monks who lived there were massacred.

In the late 8th century, the monastery became associated with the parents of the Virgin Mary, Saints Joachim and Anne. A monk from that period mentions a "House of Joachim." After the destruction by the Persians, the monastery was rebuilt during the Crusader period, with restorations made by Manuel I Komnenos in 1179 and Frederick II in 1234. After the defeat of the Crusaders, the monastery was abandoned until it was re-established in 1878 by a Greek monk named Kalinikos. Since then, the monastery has been in the care of several different monks or abbots, including Father Kalinikos, Father Amphilochios, Father Antonios Iosiphidis, Father Germanos, and the current abbot, Father Constantinos.

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Evgeny Praisman
St. George's Monastery and Qumran of Feb 21, 2023

A one spring day trip to St. George's Monastery in Wadi Qelt and the Qumran archaeological site offers a unique glimpse into the religious, mystic, and spiritual traditions of the northern part of the Dead Sea. The journey starts with a visit to St. George's Monastery in Wadi Qelt. This historic monastery is located in a remote desert canyon and was established by early Christian monks who sought solitude and asceticism. Visitors can see the remains of the monastic complex, including the church, cells, and cisterns. The peaceful atmosphere of the monastery and its surrounding landscape contrasts the bustling modern world and offers a glimpse into the early practices of monks in the region.

After visiting the monastery, the trip continues to the Last Chance eatery at the Almog intersection for a delicious meal. This is an excellent opportunity to take a break and refuel before continuing to the Qumran archaeological site.

Located near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, the Qumran site was inhabited by a Jewish community during the Second Temple period and is most commonly associated with the Essenes, a mystic sect. Visitors can see the remains of the buildings and cisterns that were used by the community, as well as learn about the history and culture of the ancient Jewish community in the region.

The unique atmosphere of the northern part of the Dead Sea, including its religious, mystic, and spiritual traditions, is evident in both St. George's Monastery and Qumran. These two sites offer a fascinating insight into the diverse religious practices and beliefs of the ancient communities who lived in the region. They highlight the enduring legacy of the early Christian monks who sought solitude and asceticism in the Wadi Qelt caves.

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Evgeny Praisman (author)
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