World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Mar Saba

Mar Saba Monastery, 2011.
Mar Saba seen from the air.
Mar Saba seen from a distance.

The Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified,[1] known in Arabic as Mar Saba (Arabic: دير مار سابا‎; Hebrew: מנזר מר סבא‎; Greek: Ἱερὰ Λαύρα τοῦ Ὁσίου Σάββα τοῦ Ἡγιασμένου), is a Greek Orthodox monastery overlooking the Kidron Valley[2] in Bethlehem Governorate of Palestine. The traditional date for the founding of the monastery by Sabbas the Sanctified of Mutalaska, Cappadocia is the year 483[3] and today houses around 20 monks. It is considered to be one of the oldest inhabited monasteries in the world, and still maintains many of its ancient traditions. One in particular is the restriction on women entering the main compound. The only building that women can enter is the Women's Tower, near the main entrance.

The monastery holds the relics of Saint Sabbas. Mar Saba is occasionally referred to as the Convent or Monastery of Santa Sabba.[4]

Mar Saba was also the home of St. John of Damascus (676 - 749), a key religious figure in the Iconoclastic Controversy, who around 726 wrote letters to the Byzantine emperor Leo III the Isaurian refuting his edicts prohibiting the veneration of icons (images of Christ or other Christian religious figures). John worked as a high financial officer to the Muslim Caliph Abd al-Malik; he eventually felt a higher calling and migrated to the Judaean desert, where he was tonsured a monk and was ordained a hieromonk (monastic priest) at the Monastery of Mar Saba. St. John's tomb lies in a cave under the monastery.

The monastery is important in the historical development of the liturgy of the Orthodox Church in that the monastic Typicon (manner of celebrating worship services) of Saint Sabbas became the standard throughout the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite. The Typicon took the standard form of services which were celebrated in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and added some specifically monastic usages which were local traditions at Saint Sabbas. From there it spread to Constantinople, and thence throughout the Byzantine world. Although this Typicon has undergone further evolution, particularly at the Monastery of the Stoudion in Constantinople, it is still referred to as the Typicon of Saint Sabas.

Mar Saba is where Morton Smith claimed to have found a copy of a letter ascribed to Clement of Alexandria containing excerpts of a so-called Secret Gospel of Mark.[5]

Sabbas' relics were taken by Crusaders in the 12th century and remained in Italy until Pope Paul VI returned them to the monastery in 1965 as a gesture of good will towards the Orthodox.

See also


  1. ^ A Lavra is a large, historic monastery
  2. ^ 'Mar Saba Monastery: No women, meat or apples, Masa Aher Magazine (Hebrew)
  3. ^ Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents
  4. ^ John Lloyd Stephens (1837) Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea, and the Holy Land
  5. ^ Morton Smith, Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark (Harvard University Press) 1973

External links

  • Founder's Typikon of the Sabas Monastery near Jerusalem from Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents
  • Mar Saba Monastery - A Documentary Page on the Web with Video on Site
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.