Monastery Garments
The Desert Fathers
Monasticism of the Mid-East & Mediterranean

The Holy Lavra (Mother House) of Saint Sabbas, known in Syriac as Mar Saba (Syriac: ܕܝܪܐ ܕܡܪܝ ܣܒܐ‎, 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 at a point halfway between the Old City of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, within the Bethlehem Governorate of the West Bank. The monks of Mar Saba and those of subsidiary houses are known as Sabaites. The monastery was founded around 483 AD by the Syrian-Cappadocian monk Saint Sabbas the Sanctified. At the foot of the monastery, beneath three great buttresses that support the wall of the dining room, kitchen, storehouse and bakery, is a walled-in space containing the spring that attracted St Sabas to the site. Such is the character of the one remaining unchanged monastery of this type, the famous establishment of Mar Saba, in the Kedron Valley, not far from the Dead Sea. The name "laura" is applied to a number of contiguous but separate cells, each inhabited by a single hermit or anchorite, in contradistinction to a monastery or "coenobium," (cenobitic monks who live in common) where the monks live together in a common community under the rule of one superior or abbot.. The Mar Saba Monastery, set half-way between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, is the oldest monastery in the Holy Land and one of the oldest continuously inhabited monasteries in the world. Over six thousand monks and hermits once lived in the caves and hermitages surrounding this highly revered, notable monastery; Today the monastery hosts a cenobitic community of Greek Orthodox monks

St. Catherin Monastery, Mt. Sinai, founded in the 6th Century by Byzantine Emperor Justinian; This monastery has the rare distinction of having the world's second largest collection of ancient manuscripts; second only to the Vatican Library in Rome.
St. Catherin Monastery Library of rare manuscripts also includes The Codex Sinaiticus, the world's oldest known Bible, and intact in complete handwritten form; And made available to scholar's world. Wide.
This is the only Christian monastery in the world which happily includes a Mosley Mosque on its property and built in the 8th Century, right next to the Monastery's Basilica Church; St. Catherin's Monastery is a world model of peace, fraternity and good will among all peoples of other religions
The Prophet Muhammed wrote an encyclical giving his official blessing and guarantee of security and safety for this great Monastery and the pious monks who live there.
St. Catherin's Orthodox Monastery, Mt. Saini, built in the 6th Century by Byzantine Emperor. (Name pending): The Monastery's Basilica Church is in the center foreground inside the high walls with its tall bell tower, to the right of that is the white tower of the Muslim Mosque.
Ornate interior of the Basilica Church of St. Catherin's Monastery, Mt. Sinai

One of the 24 monasteries of Meteora, Greece

The interior of the Chapel of the Burning Bush (next to St. Catherin's Monastery Church) is covered in bright blue-and white tiles and decorated with precious icons and sacred ornaments in silver. The precise spot where the bush is believed to have stood is indicated by a silver plaque.

The Hermits of Cappadocia, Greece
The colorful, festive balloons on the cover of this magazine don't give a clue as to the rigors and austerities of the Early Byzantine Era monasticism and eremitism rigorously and devoutly practiced by the Desert Fathers of Cappadocia.
At its height, there were about 8 thousand, mostly male hermits and monks living at Cappadocia from the mid 3rd. C. to late 5th C. AD.; And fewer through the 10th C.
Cappadocia is a 50-square-mile plateau of cone shape soft limestone formations with many hermit, cave dwellings, Byzantine Churches and chapels carved out of the bare rock; It is now an open-air museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site where churches and monasteries (carved into the rock) are lavishly decorated with Byzantine icon mosaics and wall murals, some dating to the 10th Century AD.      

Ethiopian Orthodox monk/priest reading an ancient text in their library


Ethiopian Orthodox priest holds a rare manuscript from their monastery library, an 18th Century Narga Sallase illuminated manuscript portrays Ethiopian Queen Walatta Giyorgis (Mentewwab)

The 13th C. AD. Medieval Monastery of Geghard; This Armenian Orthodox monastery got its name because of its most precious relic enshrined therein: "The Spear (geghard in Armenian) That Pierced Christ's Side at the Crucifixion"

The churches of St. Mercurius and St. Paul with the keep of the monastery and the Church of St. Michael to the right.

In the garden of the Monastery of St. Paul is the Cave of St. Mark, a pius,14th Century solitary monk of St. Anthony's Monastery. He lived for some years in this hermitage, which gives an impression of what a desert dwelling looked like in that part of Egypt.

The old refectory of the Monastery of St. Paul. At the end of the long stone table is a lectern for readings during the meals.

Monastery of St. Paul, near the Gulf of Suez; The old mill for grinding wheat. A donkey used to turn the large wheel. Grain was funneled through the wooden box on top of the millstones.

Monastery of St. Paul, church iconography; Two layers of paintings; St. Shenute and St. John (with Coptic inscriptions) are just visible above a row of early 18th Century saints (with Arabic inscriptions)

Monk's cells in the Monastery of St. Paul, near the Gulf of Suez, Egypt, immediately South of the Monastery of St. Anthony the Great, the site of the original monastic hermitage/cell of St. Anthony. Many pilgrims and visitors from all over the world come to these highly revered sites, especially for the annual Feast of St. Anthony, on January 17, including the all-night Vigil and Divine Liturgy

The old entrance to the Monastery of St. Paul with the pully for hoisting up goods and visitors

St. Anthony the Great, Abbot, Founder of Christian Monasticism, under the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin & Christ Child; The two extremes of Early & Medieval Christianity-Contemplation in the person of St. Anthony, Abbot; Worldly action, in the person of St. George-are represented in this 15 Century altarpiece by the Italian painter Pisanello. St. Anthony is revered as the founder of Christian monasticism in the late 3 rd. Century in Lower Egypt; St. George, a less historical figure, had reputedly killed a dragon and became the embodiment of knightly prowess.

Sweeping view of the Monastery of St. Anthony complex, near the Gulf of Suez

Monastery of St. Anthony, The domed church outside the walls, built with stones from the mountain, is dedicated to St. Anthony and the Blessed Virgin Mary; This beautiful 5 domed church was consecrated in 2OO4 by the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria

Monastery of St. Anthony; The double towers belong to the new church of St. Anthony, (Early 2Oth Century)

     St. Symeon Stylite, the overzealous 3rd Century Byzantine ascetic/hermit from Antioch, Syria; He spent many years in increasingly extreme forms of self-renunciation, self-isolation, living 24/7 atop numerous high stone & marble pillars, 3ft-4ft wide, in excessive forms of prayer, fasting, enduring cold, heat, burning sun light, various illness's, standing, kneeling and other forms of Vedic/Hindu/Manichean type overzealous self-denial, mortifications and solitude on a high pillar (Roman ruins); Over many years, Symeon attracted evermore thousands of enthusiastic throngs, adoring pilgrims, including a visit from the astonished and inspired Byzantine Emperor himself; Symeon received many inspired visitors, including kings, queens and emperors who routeenly gathered around his tall pillar abode begging him, (sometimes using tall ladders) for spiritual council and even political advice; An ever increasing number of his ascetic, monastic followers replicated Symeon's unusual ways of self-renunciation and otherworldliness, likewise living atop similar high, abondoned pillars over many years including on the outskirts of Constantinople itself, the second largest city of the Roman Empire-the Patriarchial seat of the Orthodox Catholic Church and world hub of Byzantium.
     St. Symeon Stylite, (amoung many other similar ascetic saints) an inspiration to millions in his time, was a unique "spiritual", monastic and ascetic phenonoma for the evolving Orthodox Catholic Church and monasticism of the Mid-Eastern and Meditarranian region.

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