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Contributed by Turathuna Bethlehem University on 09.12.2006:

Such is the Arab name both of the cave and of the ravine in which it is situated. It is located 2 kms (1.2 mile) south-east of Herodium and near the village of Tequ’a in the Jerusalem desert. Khureitun is the ruin of the Laura of Souka founded about 330 by St. Chariton, and in which he died. It was named after him. We find in this place the cave in which the holy hermit spent the last years of his life. St. Chariton used a hanging cave as his own cell accessible only by a ladder. The cave was occupied by other hermits also at a later date. It is a natural grotto of labyrinthic character. It contains seven chambers on different levels; each is connected with the other by passages, some of which are very narrow and low. The explorer may easily lose his way, he should either be provided with a long thread to be used as a clue, or, better still, with a guide. The cavern consists of a continues series galleries and side-passages, which are sometimes so low as to be passable by creeping only, but sometimes expand into large chambers. One of the chambers looks like a great Cathedral. A short rock-passage leads into a spacious chamber, about 38 meters long, from which several side-passages diverge.

It was at the top of a cliff and near a spring. Near St. Chariton, a prehistoric grotto was found in 1928, with abundant materials of the Paleolithic period. Visitors are advised to come provided with a flashlight and a long rope if they wish to explore the different chambers of the cave. Also, they should take drinking water to avoid dehydration in the desert air and dress appropriately both for the monasteries and from the searing sun.

Source: A Guide to Bethlehem and its Surroundings by Sawsan and Qustandi Shomali.

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