The Monastery of Saint Gerasimos

Hello everyone, and welcome to another video tour by

Today, we are visiting the Monastery of Saint Gerasimos, (Gerasimus) also known by its Arabic name “Deir Hajla”.

The Monastery of Saint Gerassimos is located in the Judean desert, north of the Dead Sea and nearby Qasar el Yahud, where Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River and also southeast of the city of Jericho and  mount of temptaion.

The Name – Gerasimos

The site got its name after Gerassimos settled there in the middle of the 5th century (455 CE), first as a hermit in a cave near the Jordan River and later in the monastery that was built on this site. The Monastery of St. Gerasimos is one of the oldest monasteries in Israel. Another famose Monastery not too far from here is the Monastery of Mar Saba for which we have a dedicated video tour. 

The History of Gerasimos Monatery

As we mentioned before, the monastery was built during the second half of the 5th century. The monastery flourished until the 7th century, when the Persians rampaged and destroyed it while massacring all the monks. You can see some bones of the monks that were killed by the Persian in boxes around the church. 

The monastery was rebuilt again in the 9th century but was destroyed and rebuilt several time in the following centuries.

During the 19th century, the Greek Orthodox Church rebuilt the monastery at the site we are visiting today.

On the first floor, there is a crypt dedicated to Mary. According to Tradition, the holy family, together with baby Jesus, stayed in this crypt on their way to Egypt while escaping from Herod.

The Story about the Lion

There is a very famous story attributed to Gerosimos and this monastery.

One day Gerosimos saw a big lion roaring in agony. When he approached the Lion without fear, he saw a thorn in its paw. After removing it, the Lion stayed with Gerassimos and followed him to the monastery, where he stayed and protected Gerassimos and its community.

Later on, the story tells us how the Lion rescued the community donkey, an essential animal those days, from a group of thieves and returned it together with a camel.

The whole community was amazed how a wild animal, such as the Lion, could convert and become peaceful.

That is for today, and untill we meet in our next video let’s live the Jerusalem Experience!