Studium Theologicum Salesianum
Salesian Pontifical University : Faculty of Theology - Jerusalem Campus

St. Saba Monastery, St. Theodosius Monastery and Kathisma


Kidron Valley, December 1st  2016.
Samuel Sorie Sesay, SDB

Our quest for knowledge never comes to a standstill, the human being always seeks to know and discover. Our recent archeological visit started in St. Saba monastery, known in the Byzantine period as the great Laura of Saint Saba. Its geographical location is in the Judean Desert on the cliffs of the Kidron valley, which is 12 km east of Bethlehem. In 478 AD, at the age of 30, Saba, who was a disciple of Saint Euthymius, led by the quest of Holy Spirit, decided to live alone in a cave at the top of the cliff on the east bank of the Kidron Valley, opposite the current Mar Saba monastery. Having spent five years in seclusion on his own he motivated many Christians who decided to join him. As a result of this, their number grew and so a monastic community came into being, made up of a private dwelling and small chapel for common prayers. He established a written rule for the service of the monks in the desert. In 483 they started to construct their monastery and finished it in 486. They also constructed a Church and a women’s tower which is outside the wall of the monastery. Currently there are twenty two monks living in the monastery. The remains of St Saba which were in Venice, were brought here in the 1960’s and are currently in the monastery.

The second monastery we visited was that of St Theodosius. Born in Cappadocia, St Theodosius lived in a cave where the three wise men rested after visiting the infant Jesus and were warned by an angel to return to their country by another road (Matthew 2:12). The monastery was founded in 476, and is about 12km east of Bethlehem. St Theodosius built a house for the poor and the needy in the monastery. During this period there happened the miracle of multiplication of bread. The Saint was a brave defender of the faith and fought against the heresies in the church.

On our way back, we stopped at the place called Kathisma which means a seat. It is the place believed to be where Mary the mother of God rested with Joseph on their way to Bethlehem before the birth of Jesus. A monastery was built there dedicated to Theotokos. It was later destroyed and a mosque was built at the same location. The place was rediscovered in 1950’s; it was a resting place for pilgrims as well. We ended our excursion after such enriching experiences and each went home fulfilled with the satisfaction of what we saw and heard about the monasteries and the place where the Mother of God rested.




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