Category Archives: judean desert

The Byzantine monasteries and the ”Lauras”

The ''lauras'' in the Judean desert January 2015

The ”lauras” in the Judean desert January 2015

 The lauras (laurae in Latin) are a type of monastery,
consisting of a cluster of cells or caves.
They gave their name to the whole monastic ideology,
whose fascinating remains are the main
evidence of early Christian monasteries.

IIn the Orthodox Church and the Eastern Churches, a  laura is a religious institution where the monks  (from the latin word monachus: ‘single,solitary’), lived five days a week as hermits, scattered in remote populated areas. Saturday nights,  sundays and holidays were community days, on which the monks gathered under the leadership of an Abbot to sing,  take their meals together and receive instructions. They then joined their hermitage for the week charged with a food basket (cooked food, wine, etc …) This is a semi-hermit mixed monastic lifestyle.


Mar Saba February 2015

Mar Saba Monastery February 2015

Sabbas the Sanctified was born in 439 AD in Cappadocia he directed the great Laura Mar Saba for almost 50 years. During all these years he expanded the site to accommodate the hundreds of monks who lived in the area and built walls to protect the community.

Saint Sabbas lived about 10 years in a cave near the future site of the monastery. He found in this remote location, near a river bed the Kidron, the perfect place to gather and fully live his solitude.


The Kidron in the Judean desert in February 2015

The Kidron in the Judean desert in February 2015

In the time of Saint Sabbas a total of thirteen monasteries were established in the Judean desert, some of them have become famous in particular the Monasteries of Saint Martyrius and Saint Euthemius. The number of hermits went from hundreds to thousands during this period.

He influenced and reshaped the customs and lifestyle of the monks. He was the first among ‘the fathers of the desert hermit’ who formulated a set of written rules on the conduct and way of life of the monks in the Judean desert.

Saint George Monastery Wadi Qelt Judean Desert

Saint George Monastery Wadi Qelt Judean Desert


The Dead Sea’s … agony

The Dead sea

The Dead sea

                                The Dead Sea, in Hebrew called ‘Yam Hamelah’ meaning ‘Sea of Salt’
                                                is located at  422 meters below the sea level.

It has no fauna or flora, but it does contain omega 3, 6 and beta-carotene. The Dead Sea contains a  very high concentration of minerals such as sulfur, magnesium, bromine and phosphate. It also contains essential natural minerals like chlorine, iodine, calcium and zinc. They are all extracted for factories, which are situated at the southern end of the sea.

The Dead Sea is highly coveted for its many benefits and offers all kinds of therapies for the treatment of skin diseases, joint problems, respiratory problems and high blood pressure.

                         However, as the level drops about 1 meter per year, this sea may                                                                       disappear if we do not take care of it!

The withdrawal of the sea causes a phenomenon called ‘Sinkhole’, a spontaneous gulf that swallows anything.

These chasms arise from the interaction between fresh water and an underground layer of salt. The water dissolves the salt, creating a vacuum in the ground which results in the collapse of its surface.

                            There is at least one sinkhole per day around the Dead Sea,
                                                     which is highly alarming….                                                        

In Roman times, The Emperor Vespasian was not convinced that one could float in the Dead       Sea. As proof he took some chained slaves and threw them into the water and of course…..

                                                                THEY FLOATED !


An ibex on the shore of the Dead Sea near a sinkhole

An ibex on the shore of the Dead Sea near a sinkhole

– Sulfur – helps clean the skin
– Magnesium – helps in the metabolism of cells, strongly recommended to treat psoriasis
– Bromine – for its soothing effects
– Potassium – people with asthma find real relief to breathe salt vapors