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Mar Saba stories

Contributed by Arab Educational Institute on 17.03.2006:

At about three hours walking distance to the east of Bethlehem lies the monastery of Mar Saba hewn out of the rocks on the slope of a mountain in the middle of a vast wilderness, overlooking a most dismall and desolate valley 590 feet below the monastery. This settlement of monks is said to have been founded in the fifth century by St. Euthymius. Around the middle of the century Saba (born in 439 in Cappadocia) visited Jerusalem and later settled in this wilderness with St. Euthymius.

Until today it is forbidden for women to enter the monastery. It is related that, fairly recently, a woman disguised in man’s clothes entered the monastery with a group of tourists, whereupon the monastery immediately began to shake. The abbot ordered a thorough investigation which resulted in the discovery of the woman who was peremptorily ordered out. Soon afterwards the shaking subsided.

One day when St Saba entered his cave, he found it occupied by a lion, whereupon the Saint began without fear to repeat his prayers and then fell asleep. The legend goes on to say that the lion then dragged him out of the cave twice, but the Saint objected to such proceedings, and assigned him a corner in the cavern, after which they lived peacefully together.

Source: Issa Massou: Religious stories from Bethlehem, Bethlehem University Journal

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