Mar Elias Monastery

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Mar Elias Monastery
Mar Elias Monastery
AffiliationGreek Orthodox Church
LocationEast Jerusalem
Palestine grid1700/1268
Geographic coordinates31°44′4.92″N 35°12′38.88″E / 31.7347000°N 35.2108000°E / 31.7347000; 35.2108000

Mar Elias Monastery (Hebrew: מנזר אליהו הקדוש, Arabic: دير مار إلياس, romanizedDeir Mar Elias) is a Greek Orthodox monastery in south Jerusalem, on a hill overlooking Bethlehem and Herodium, near Hebron Road [he].


Origin of the name, other traditions[edit]

According to Christian tradition, Elijah rested here after fleeing the vengeance of Jezebel.[1] It is also said to be the burial place of the Greek Bishop Elias of Bethlehem who died in 1345, and St. Elias, an Egyptian monk who became Patriarch of Jerusalem in 494.[2]

Another Christian tradition is that Mary rested under the large hackberry tree growing north of the monastery when she was fleeing Herod, who had ordered the execution of all the children of Bethlehem.[3]

Mar Elias Monastery
Mar Elias Monastery

1956 shooting attack[edit]

From the hill east of the monastery, in 1956 one or rather several Jordanian soldiers opened fire on a group of Israeli archaeologists visiting the excavation sites across the valley at Ramat Rachel, killing Jacob Pinkerfield and another three, and injuring 16.[4][5]

After 1967[edit]

During the 1967 Six-Day War, the Israel Defense Forces quickly overran Jordanian defences around the monastery on the way to Bethlehem and Hebron.[6] After 1967 the height, known as Elijah Hill, was renamed in Hebrew as Givat ha'Arba'a, Hill of the Four, in honour of the four victims killed in the 1956 incident.[citation needed]



Hunt's bench; orchards[edit]

Facing the monastery is a stone bench erected by the wife of the painter William Holman Hunt (1827–1910), who painted some of his major works at this spot. The bench is inscribed with biblical verses in Hebrew, Greek, Arabic and English.[7]

Since the 4th century, the monks of Mar Elias have cultivated olives and grapes.[8]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mar Elias Monastery and Church". Archived from the original on 2016-01-27. Retrieved 2012-03-22.
  2. ^ Where to go in the Holy Land[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ [ Jerusalem's Oldest Guardians: Hackberry Trees on Temple Mount, Haaretz
  4. ^ Israel Rejects Jordan's Claim Madman Killed 3, Meriden Journal, 24 September 1956 [1]
  5. ^ Raphael Israeli, Jerusalem Divided: The Armistice Regime, 1947-1967, p. 82. Routledge 2002, Series: Israeli History, Politics and Society (Book 23), ISBN 978-0714652665 [2]
  6. ^ Michael B. Oren: Six days of war: June 1967 and the making of the modern Middle East - Page 247 "The first of several heavy battles had broken out west of Nablus while, south of Jerusalem, Israeli infantry overran the defenses around the Mar Elias monastery. Beyond that lay Bethlehem and Hebron. "
  7. ^ "Mar Elias Monastery and Church". Archived from the original on 2016-01-27. Retrieved 2012-03-22.
  8. ^ Where to Go: Mar Elias


External links[edit]