Mar Elias Monastery

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Mar Elias Monastery

Mar Elias Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery in south East Jerusalem, on a hill overlooking Bethlehem and Herodium.

The monastery was founded in the 6th century, damaged in an earthquake, and restored in 1160 with funds donated by Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor.[1] According to Christian tradition, Elijah rested here after fleeing the vengeance of Jezebel.[2] It is also said to be the burial place of the Greek Bishop Elias of Bethlehem who died in 1345, and St. Elias, an Egyptian monk who became Patriarch of Jerusalem in 494.[3]

In the battle for Ramat Rachel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Mar Elias was the base of the Arab Legion.[4] During the 1967 Six-Day War, the Israel Defense Forces quickly overran Jordanian defences around the monastery on the way to Bethlehem and Hebron.[5]

Facing the monastery is a stone bench erected by the wife of the painter William Holman Hunt, who painted some of his major works at this spot. The bench is inscribed with biblical verses in Hebrew, Greek, Arabic and English.[6]

Since the 4th century, the monks of Mar Elias have cultivated olives and grapes.[7]

See also


  1. Israel and the Palestinian territories: the Rough Guide, Daniel Jacobs, Shirley Eber, Francesca Silvani - 1998, "Mar Elias", Page 394
  2. Mar Elias Monastery and Church
  3. Where to go in the Holy Land
  4. Palmach history: The War of Independence
  5. Michael B. Oren Six days of war: June 1967 and the making of the modern Middle East - Page 247 "The first of several heavy battles had broken out west of Nablus while, south of Jerusalem, Israeli infantry overran the defenses around the Mar Elias monastery. Beyond that lay Bethlehem and Hebron. "
  6. Mar Elias Monastery and Church
  7. Where to Go: Mar Elias

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