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St. Theodosius Monastery – A Special place to visit in Bethlehem

St. Theodosius Monastery in Bethlehem

Why So Special?

According to the Bible, immediately after Jesus was born, three Magi came to greet him with loads of gifts. They were ordered by an angel to leave Bethlehem without informing anyone about the birth of Jesus, especially King Herod. While returning, for privacy concerns they took shelter in a cave. That cave, in the present day, is located in the grounds of St. Theodosius Monastery. Regardless to say, this place holds great importance for its biblical reference.

A Quick Flashback

The person who introduced Cenobitic monasticism to the world is none other than St. Theodosius. Cenobitic monasticism is a style of monasticism that believes in living in a community than living in isolation. Theodosius of Cappadocia, a renowned monk in Christianity, stepped in the location in 432 AD and established the monastery in 476 AD. To build the monastery, he did not randomly choose that particular place in Bethlehem rather he was led by God Himself. Since that place has a significant role in the history of the nativity, to pay homage to that blessed spot, St. Theodosius set up a religious institution there according to the order.

St. Theodosius the Cenobiarch was a man of wisdom with an influential personality. During his lifetime, he hosted 700 monks in his monastery. The monastery was run by the donations of local wealthy men. With his hard work and dedication, he built the monastery and transformed the lives of the people around him. He taught them how to practice monasticism while living in society.

Broken but Not Defeated

Persian invasion in 808 AD had a devastating impact on Bethlehem and some of its historical sites including the St. Theodosius Monastery. It was intentionally done to kick out the monks from the monastery. The monastery was again built during the Crusader period but unfortunately shattered by the Arabs. Ultimately between 1914 and 1952, the structure was rebuilt the Greek Orthodox Church on the relics and till now it is proudly standing high. At present at least 12 monks live in the monastery. The founder, St. Theodosius and some other monks rest in peace in a white-walled cave inside the monastery. 

The monastery is a set of beautiful buildings made of white marble. Inside there is a stunning church filled with pictures of Jesus, monks and Biblical quotes.

How to Get There?

Located about 12 kilometers east of Bethlehem en route to Mar Saba Monastery, there is a beautiful place, St. Theodosius Monastery. To be specific, the site is situated in the east of al-Ubeidiya, a Palestinian town. Tourists can visit the celestial place any day of the week from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, except the fasting days- Wednesdays and Fridays. The place provides parking facilities and free entrance to the tourists.

A tour to Bethlehem without visiting St. Theodosius Monastery will always be incomplete. So do not miss the opportunity to experience this historic site while in Bethlehem.

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