An authentic Crusader monastery, Gregorian chant, friendly monks and a courtyard that is like Paradise on earth…
The Benedictine monastery at the heart of the Arab village of Abu Gosh near Jerusalem is one of the most magnificent hidden treasures of the Holy Land. The monastery belongs to the ancient Catholic order founded by Saint Benedict in Italy in the 6th century.
The courtyard consists of 7.5 acres of magnificent gardens, an orchard, and olive and pine trees. 9 monks currently live in the monastery and 12 nuns live in the building next door. Most of their day is spent in religious study, prayer and working in the garden, as well as in the ceramic and candle factory on the premises.
The Church of the Resurrection, built by the Knights Hospitaller in 1145, is a part of the monastery’s the compound. According to tradition, this is Emmaus – which is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke (24) – where Jesus revealed himself after he was resurrected, which is why the church was built here.
In the church crypt you can see the mighty walls the Crusaders built, some are as thick as 11.5 feet! A bubbling spring flows through the crypt.
According to Christian tradition, the spring served the biblical site of Kiryat Ye’arim. It is from here, according to the Bible, that King David carried the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem: “And as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart” (Samuel 2:6).
For about 730 years of its existence since it was established in the 12th century, the compound was abandoned. In 1873, the Ottoman (Turk) Sultan, Abed el Aziz, gave it to the French government to which it still belongs today. The Benedictine monks only came to the Holy Land at the end of the 19th century, and to the monastery in 1901.
There is another church in Abu Gosh, at the top of the hill, which is considered to be one of the most impressive in the Holy Land.
Six daily prayer sessions are held at the monastery, from 5:30 A.M.-8:30 P.M., and visitors are encouraged to visit during one of the sessions, for the unique opportunity to hear prayer songs and the Gregorian music performed in an 800-year-old church of which you can buy recordings on the Abu Gosh monastery’s internet site.
The monastery’s walls and columns feature frescos that were drawn during the thirteenth century. The frescos, which are considered to be unique, have been cleaned and restored. Although the monastery is Catholic, the frescos were done by Greek Orthodox artists in Byzantine style.
The church is considered to be one of the best preserved Crusader remains in the country and everybody should visit, be it as pilgrims, as just plain tourists or as virtual tourists on this internet site.