A Road to Saint George

Terrasanta.net | November 30, 2010

The orthodox monastery of St. George of Koziba, between Jerusalem and Jericho. (photo: S. Lee)

(Milan/g.c.) – For several years now, it has not been at all easy to reach the Orthodox monastery of St. George of Koziba, between Jerusalem and Jericho. The road, closed due to landslides, was open only to pedestrians.

From today, 30th November, it will again be possible to reach one of the most beautiful monasteries in the Holy Land by the new road built along the rocky walls of the Wadi Kelt, and inaugurated by the Israeli Minister of Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov, and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III.

The monastery, about 9 kilometres (5 and a half miles) from Jericho and about twenty kilometres (12 miles) from Jerusalem, is one of the gems of monastic architecture in the Holy Land.

Built in 480 AD, it was almost abandoned after a Persian foray with the massacre of 14 monks. The Crusaders made a few attempts to rebuild it in 1179, but it was not completely restored until 1901, when the work was initiated by the Orthodox Church. According to tradition, the place where the Lavra of Koziba stands today is where  St. Elijah is believed to have stopped on his way to the Sinai and where an angel announced the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary to St. Joachim (St. Anne’s husband and the father of the Virgin Mary).

The monastery is named after St. George, who came from Cyprus. His brother Heraclides had left the island to devote himself to the monastic life in Palestine. After the death of his parents, George also wanted to embrace the ascetic life and joined his brother in the Lavra of Calamon, on the banks of the Jordan, but he was still too young for the life of a hermit. This is why his brother took him to the Lavra of Koziba and introduced him to the coenobitic life. After an adventurous life (and after having escaped the Persian forays), George returned to Koziba to die, surrounded by the fame of sainthood.