Martyrius Monastery in Wikipedia
The Monastery of Martyrius, now located in the center of the Israeli settlement and city of Ma'ale Adumim, east of
Jerusalem, was one of the most important centres of monastic life in the Judean Desert during the Byzantine period.
When Ma'ale Adumim was built in 1982-1985, the remains of the Monastery of Martyrius (Khirbet Murassas) were
discovered on a hill overlooking the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. Martyrius was born in Cappadocia (present-day
Turkey). After spending some time at the Laura of Euthymius in 457 CE, he lived as a hermit in a nearby cave. Later,
he served as a priest at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and became Patriarch of Jerusalem (478-486 CE). It is
believed that he built the monastery bearing his name at this time.
The xenodocheion (pilgrim hostelry) was a source of considerable income to the sabaite monks of the coenobium.
Archeological findings -
The square-shaped compound of the monastery covers an area of 2.5 acres (10,000 m2). It is surrounded by walls
preserved to a height of two meters. The gate was located in the eastern wall. A round rolling-stone, 2.5 meters in
diameter, was found inside the gate, probably for additional protection. Numerous rock-cut cisterns and canals were
found for collecting and chanelling rainwater into cisterns.
The monastery was built around a large courtyard and included a church, several chapels, a refectory, a kitchen, a
storeroom, a bathhouse, residential quarters and an animal pen. Outside the wall was a pilgrims hostel.
The main church was paved with colorful mosaics in geometric patterns interspersed with pictures of animals. A Greek
inscription mentions the abbots Genesius and Iohannes.
On the northern side of the complex is a cave in which several skeletons were found. A Greek inscription cites the
names of three priests buried there. It is believed this is the cave where Martyrius lived before joining the church
hierarchy in Jerusalem.
The refectory is surrounded by stone benches and divided by two rows of columns which supported a second story. The
floor, discovered intact, is covered with mosaics in geometrical designs. The kitchen was also paved with mosaics and
contained marble tables. Hundreds of ceramic vessels, cooking pots and wine cups were found there. The hostel
provided guests with a chapel, sleeping quarters and a stable.
The monastery was damaged during the Persian invasion in 614 CE and was abandoned after the Arab conquest in the mid-
The site was excavated by Yitzhak Magen of the Israel Antiquities Authority.