A visit to the Dir Hag’ala site and the site of the baptism

The monastery was established in the fifth century CE by the father of the church, Hieronymus, and the monk, Gerasimus. From then and until today, the monastery was destroyed many times, by Muslim or Persian invaders, or from earthquakes. The monastery has been renovated, and many of the original structures, including floorings, have been kept.

A lavishly adorned mosaic, chiseled stones, as well as mementos and personal items belonging to ancient monks.

The touristic charm of the place, explain tour guides, is owed to the personal connection to the caves of isolation adjacent to the monastery. The closeness to history and the ability to find isolation in view of a desert landscape, the same biblical surroundings in which Jesus and his apostles isolated themselves.

Another story that ties visitors to the monastery and its monks, even today, is the wonderful tale of the monk Gerasimus, the first manager of the monastery and named today as the patron saint of animals. Tradition tells us that Gerasimus encountered a lion with a thorn in its foot while walking in the desert. Gerasimus removed the thorn and cared for the lion until it fully recovered.

In return, the lion felt deeply in debt, and escorted Gerasimus wherever he went. When Gerasimus departed this world, the lion lingered on his tomb and refused to eat or drink until it, itself, passed away. From travelers who visited the site, we understand that the miraculous stories that occurred there, add to the desire to go and visit the monastery.

The monastery is marked on the well-known travel map held by all official tour guides. All you need to do is ask to visit the site and to be there during the hours of sunrise or sunset.