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.
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.
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.