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St. Theodosius Monastery


Mar Theodosius Monastery, known in Arabic as Deir Ibn Ubeid, is a fortress-like structure perched on top of a high hill in the outskirts of the town of Ubeidiyyeh. Visitors from all over the world come and visit the Monastery and to experience the sanctity of the place and its religious heritage that goes back to the Monastic Movement that overtook Palestine between the 4th and 7th centuries. The Monastery, which is locally referred to as the “near Mara Saba,” was built by St. Theodosius in 465 A.D., and it is today one of the oldest continuously inhabited monasteries in the world, alongside the Mar Saba Monastery, or the “far Mar Saba.” According to Christian belief, the monastery was built over a cave where the three Wise Men who came from Persia stopped to rest. St. Theodosius built a church and a school, from which most of the Jerusalem patriarchs graduated, among them Patriarch Sophronius, who surrendered Jerusalem to the second Rashidi Caliph Omar Bin Al Khattab. The natural cave in which the three Wise Men rested is one of the most important features of the monastery. In the past, it was used as a church, and then transformed into a cemetery. The monastery gained momentum between the 5th and 7th centuries, when it included four churches and hosted more than 700 monks living within, and over 2,500 nuns and monks living a solitary and secluded life around the monastery. St. Theodosius Monastery also served as a school of theology, a hospital, an orphanage, an old people’s home and a shelter for the poor, to name a few. The Persians invaded the place in 714 A.D. and slaughtered thousands of monks, and later on, the monastery fell victim to the Islamic invasions, and then became a shelter for the Bedouin Abu Ubeid clan, hence its Arabic name. In 1881, the Greek Orthodox Church purchased the ruins of the monastery from the Bedouins and set the foundation stone. The current Mar Theodosius Monastery was built by the Greek Orthodox Church in 1952, over ruins, mosaics and columns dating back to the time of the Byzantines and Crusaders.

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