Wednesday was quite a productive day – as I managed to complete two things that had lain on my desk waiting for far too long. So I decided to take the day off, and explore some places around Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
Finally, among other places, I got to visit the monastery of Mar Saba, in the Kidron Valley, just beyond the Palestinian village of al-Ubeidiyah. The monastery is linked with Saint Sabbas (439–532 AD), a monk originally from Capadoccia, but very much linked with monastic life in the desert close to Bethlehem. The monastery is also home to his tomb and relics. If one great saint were not enough, Mar Saba was also home to Saint John Damascene (676-749 AD), key figure in the defence of icons.
Once I visited the monastery – photos are not permitted inside – I followed the footpaths that take you across the Kidron valley to the cave of Saint Sabbas, from where I found this view of the monastery, clinging as it does to the side of the valley, rather breathtaking.