Located within the Wadi Qelt of the Judaean Desert is a monastery that goes by many names. You will likely hear it called the Monastery of Saints John and George of Choziba, the St. George Monastery in Ein Prat Nautre Reserve, or the Monastery of Choziba. Whatever you decide to call it, the St. George Monastery is a destination that you must add to your Israel Exploration Checklist.
While the monastery dates back thousands of years; you will see the Greek flag flying as the remaining residents are Greek Orthodox monks. The St. George Monastery is an inviting location dedicated to its history, beliefs, and the sharing of knowledge with all who are interested. St. George Monastery is a beacon of hope within the vast desert that called to many throughout the years, and you now have the chance to witness it for yourself. Keep in mind that conservative dress is required for admittance.
So the Wadi Qelt area is rich with religious significance; which is one reason why the monastery was built at this location. It is believed that the Wadi Qelt is the Biblical Valley of the Shadow. Furthermore not only that but due to it lying parallel to the ancient Roman road that led to Jericho; it is thought to be the location where the story of the Good Samaritan occurred. Plus, the monastery is presumed to be close to the cave where the ravens fed Elijah.
More About Saint George Monastery
Lastly, this same cave is where St. Joachim stopped to grieve over the barrenness of his wife. While in the cave, St. Joachim was visited by an angel and told that he would soon have a child; that child was the Virgin Mary. It is because of the Virgin Mary that women are allowed to enter the monastery because she once directed a Byzantine woman to the monastery to be healed.
When visiting the St. George Monastery, you can enter via two different methods. The first, and easiest, is by stopping at the parking lot and hiking the last kilometer to the monastery. Alternatively, you can also enjoy the three hours long winding hiking paths through the wadi off of Mitzpe Yericho. Once you reach the monastery, you will see how it was painstakingly carved from the cliff in a simple yet beautiful fashion. Built with three levels, the monastery features two churches.
Moreover, one church is the Church of the Holy Virgin, and the other is the Church of St. George and St. John. Inside, you will witness the incredible religious paintings and mosaics, including the Byzantine mosaic that showcases a double-headed eagle in red, white, and black hues. If you have the opportunity to visit the crypt, you can even see the remains of the original five Syrian hermits who established the monastery!