Category Archives: Greek-Orthodox

Orthodox Services in Jerusalem AND Bethlehem

KEY: (W) = Winter (S) = Summer

Armenian

Church Sundays Weekdays
St.James Cathedral
Armenian Orth. Patr. Rd.
Tel: 02-6282331
6.30 am Morning Prayer
8.30 am Liturgy twice a month
3.00 pm Vespers
6.30 am Morning Prayer
3.00 pm Vespers
8.00 am Liturgy Sat.
Holy Sepulchre
Tel: 02-6284347
8.45 am Liturgy (W) twice a month
9.45 am Liturgy (S) twice a month
4.15 pm Procession (W)
5.15 pm Procession (S)
3.30 am Liturgy (W)
4.30 am Liturgy (S)
4.15 pm Procession Fri.+ Sat.(W)
5.15 pm Procession Fri.+ Sat. (S)
Tomb of Mary, Gethsemane
Tel: 02-6284054
Phone before Phone before
Nativity Bethlehem
Rel: 02-2742410
9.00 am Liturgy (W) – 10.00 am (S) 8.00 am Liturgy (W) – 9.00 am (S)
Coptic

Church Sundays Weekday
St.Anthony Patriarchate (9th Station)
Tel: 02-6272645
5.30 am Liturgy Sat.
St. Mary’s Church 5.30 am Liturgy Mon.
St. Helen’s Church 5.30 am Liturgy Tues.
Tomb of Mary, Gethsemane 7.30 am Liturgy Wed.+ Fri. (W)
8.30 am Liturgy Wed.+ Fri. (S)
Holy Sepulchre 7.00 am Liturgy (W) – 8.00 am (S) 6.00 am Liturgy Wed. + Fri. (W)
7.00 am Liturgy Wed. + Fri. (S)
2.30 pm Vespers Sat. (W)
4.00 pm Vespers Sat. (S)
St.George’s Monastery
Mar Girges Street
5.30 am Liturgy Thurs.
ETHIOPIAN

Church Sundays Weekday
Deir el Habes
8th Station – Tel. 02-6282848
Phone before Phone before
Deir es Sultan
Roof of H. Sepulchre
Tel: 02-6280326
4.00 am Matins (W) – 5.00 am (S)
6.00 am Liturgy (W) – 7.00 am (S)
4.00 pm Vespers (W) – 5.00 pm (S)
4.00 am Matins (W) – 5.00 am (S)
6.00 am Liturgy (not every day) (W)
7.00 am Liturgy (not every day) (S)
4.00 pm Vespers (W) 5.00 pm (S)
Däbrä Gännät Monastery
Ethiopia Street 10
Tel: 02-6286871
4.00 am Matins (W) – 5.00 am (S)
6.00 am Liturgy (W) – 7.00 am (S)
4.00 pm Vespers (W) – 5.00 pm (S)
4.00 am Matins (W) – 5.00 am (S)
6.00 am Liturgy (not every day) (W)
7.00 am Liturgy (not every day) (S)
4.00 pm Vespers (W) – 5.00 pm (S)
SYRIAN

Church Sundays Weekdays
St. Mark’s Church
Tel: 02-6283304
4.00 pm Vespers (W) – 5.00 pm (S) 8.30 am Liturgy Fri. (W) – 9.30 am (S)
4.00 pm Vespers (W) – 5.00 pm (S)
Holy Sepulchre 8.30 am Liturgy (W) – 9.30 am (S)
Tomb of Mary, Gethsemane 8.00 am Liturgy Wed.(W)-7.30 am (S)
Romanian

Church Sundays Weekdays
Shivtei Israel Str. 46
Tel: 02-6264628
8.30 am Liturgy
7.00 pm Vespers
7.00 am Matins – Mon.-Fri.
8.30 am Liturgy Sat.
7.00 pm Vespers
Greek

Church Sundays Weekdays
Holy Sepulchre
Tel: 02-6284202
7.00 am Orthros (W) – 8.00 am (S) 11.00 pm Liturgy (W) – 12.00 mn. (S)
St. James Cathedral
Parvis H. Sepulchre
Tel: 02-6289112
9.30 am Liturgy (W/S) Phone before
St. Constantine Convent
Greek Orth. Patriarchate
Tel: 02-6282048
5.00 am Liturgy (W)
6.00 am Liturgy (S)
5.00 am Liturgy (W)
6.00 am Liturgy (S)
Tomb of Mary, Gethsemane
Tel. 02-6274054
Phone before Phone before
St. Michel Archangel
St. Francis Street
Tel: 02-6276411
Phone before 7.00 am Liturgy Mon. + Sat. (W)
8.00 am Liturgy Mon. + Sat. (S)
St. John the Baptist
Christian Quarter Road
Tel: 02-6436297; Cell. 0544865063
Phone before Phone before
St. Charalambos
Khanqa Road, 8th Station
Mob. 0545832567
Phone before Phone before
St. Nicholas (near the Patriarchate) Will be updated. Will be updated.
St. Spyridion
Jabsheh Road – Cell. 0545670625
Phone before Phone before
St. Catherine, Rusul Street
Cell. 0543487849
Phone before Phone before
St. Theodoros, Casa Nova St.
Cell. 0549759540
Phone before Phone before
St. Anna, St. Stephen’s Gate
Cell. 0544628103
Phone before Phone before
Praetorium, Via Dolorosa
Tel: 02-6281786
Phone before Phone before
Panagia Sydnaya
Sayide Road – Tel: 02-6285356; Cell. 0544364157
Phone before Phone before
St. Efthymios, Rusul Street
Tel. 02-6277121
Phone before Phone before
St. Simeon Katamon
Bnei Betera Street, Tel: 02-6790477
6.00 am Liturgy (W)
7.00 am Liturgy (S)
Phone before
Nativity Bethlehem
Tel: 02-2748649
7.00 am Liturgy (W)
8.00 am Liturgy (S)
6.30 am Liturgy (W)
7.30 am Liturgy (S)
Russian

Church Sundays Weekdays
St. Alexander Nefsky
25, Dabbagha Street, Tel: 02-6274952
Phone before 6.30 am Liturgy Thurs.
St. Mary Magdalene
Gethsemane
Tel: 02-6284371
7.30 am Liturgy (W) – 8.30 am (S)
4.30 pm Vespers (W) – 5.30 pm (S)
6.30 am Liturgy (W) – 7.30 am (S)
4.30 pm Vespers (W) – 5.30 pm (S)
Ascension Convent
Tel: 02-6284373
6.30 am Liturgy (W) – 7.30 am (S)
4.00 pm Vespers (W) – 5.00 pm (S)
6.30 am Liturgy (W) – 7.30 am (S)
4.00 pm Vespers (W) – 5.00 pm (S)
Russian – Moscow Mission

Church Sundays Weekdays
Holy Trinity Cathedral, Russian Compound
Tel: 02-6252565;
Tel: +972 (0)2-6252565, Fax: +972 (0)2-6256325
Cell. +972 (0)54 6857278 (Sr. Ekaterina)
9.00 am Liturgy Saturday 8.00 am Liturgy
5.00 pm Vespers Sat.

Church of the Nativity

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is a major Christian holy site, as it marks the traditional place of Christ’s birth. It is also one of the oldest surviving Christian churches. Map.

Map of Church of Nativity
Map of Church of Nativity

The first evidence of a cave here being venerated as Christ’s birthplace is in the writings of St Justin Martyr around AD 160. In 326, the Roman emperor Constantine ordered a church to be built and in about 530 it was rebuilt by Justinian. The Crusaders later redecorated the interior, but much of the marble was looted in Ottoman times. In 1852 shared custody of the church was granted to the Roman Catholic, Armenian and Greek Orthodox churches, the Greeks caring for the Grotto of the Nativity.

The grotto is the church’s focal point. A silver star is set in the floor over the spot where Christ is said to have been born. The wide nave survives intact from Justinian’s time, although the roof is 15th-century, with 19th-century restorations. Thirty of the nave’s 44 columns carry Crusader paintings of saints, and the Virgin and Child, although age and lighting conditions make them hard to see. The columns are of polished, pink limestone, most of them reused from the original 4th-century basilica. Fragments of high quality mosaics decorate the walls. Incorporating columns and capitals from the 12th-century Augustinian monastery that previously stood here, this attractive, peaceful cloister was rebuilt in Crusader style in 1948.

Church of the Nativity, Plan
Church of the Nativity, Plan

The birth of Jesus is narrated in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Matthew gives the impression that Mary and Joseph were from Bethlehem and later moved to Nazareth because of Herod’s decree, while Luke indicates that Mary and Joseph were from Nazareth, and Jesus was born in Bethlehem while they were in town for a special census.

Church of the Nativity, Plan
Church of the Nativity, Plan

Scholars tend to see these two stories as irreconcilable and believe Matthew to be more reliable because of historical problems with Luke’s version. But both accounts agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth. According to Luke 2:7 (in the traditional translation), Mary “laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Church of the Nativity, Plan
Church of the Nativity, Plan

But the Greek can also be rendered, “she laid him in a manger because they had no space in the room” — we should perhaps imagine Jesus being born in a quiet back room of an overflowing one-room house. The gospel accounts don’t mention a cave, but less than a century later, both Justin Martyr and the Protoevangelium of James say Jesus was born in a cave.

Church of the Nativity, Grotto
Church of the Nativity, Grotto

This is reasonable, as many houses in the area are still built in front of a cave. The cave part would have been used for stabling and storage – thus the manger. The first evidence of a cave in Bethlehem being venerated as Christ’s birthplace is in the writings of Justin Martyr around 160 AD. The tradition is also attested by Origen and Eusebius in the 3rd century.

In 1852, shared custody of the church was granted to the Roman Catholic, Armenian and Greek Orthodox churches. The Greeks care for the Grotto of the Nativity.

Door of Humility

The Crusader doorway, marked by a pointed arch, was reduced to the present tiny size in the Ottoman period to prevent carts being driven in by looters. A massive lintel above the arch indicates the door’s even larger original size.

It’s a small door, only about four feet tall and two feet wide.  You have to bow down to go through it. The threshold is surrounded by three large stones.  For security reasons, there is usually an armed soldier standing next to it.

All pilgrims who visit the sacred site of Jesus’ birth, must bow down to enter. They must bow as the Magi did in bringing their gifts from afar.  The gospels say that as they approached the child, they fell down and worshiped, and only then offered their treasures.  They approached him in great humility      .

Grotto

Interior

Wadi Qelt & Nabi Musa

The steep canyon of Wadi Qelt links Jerusalem to Jericho and has a number of interesting religious sites along its course, as well as springs, plants and wildlife, and often breathtaking views over the mountains and desert. The whole canyon is hikeable, although it would take a full day, and even in the spring and autumn the heat can be intense. Map.

St. George’s Monastery
St. George’s Monastery

The key sites of the wadi are linked to the highway that connects Jerusalem with Jericho and the Dead Sea, and are well signposted in both directions. Beware of extreme heat in summer and flash floods in winter. The spectacular St George’s Monastery (9am to 1pm daily) is a must see in Wadi Qelt, built into the cliff face in the 5th century.

Wadi Qelt
Wadi Qelt

Turn right off the access road and park in the car park, from where it is a steep 10-minute walk to the monastery – expect to be hassled by donkey-taxi vendors the entire way. The paintings inside the main chapel are worth the walk, and parts of the original mosaic floors are visible below perspex screens. Up another flight of stairs there is a beautiful cave chapel.

Wadi Qelt
Wadi Qelt

Drinking water is available at the monastery. You’ll see signposts along the way for the three main springs (Ein Qelt, Ein Farah and Ein Fawwar) but don’t drink the spring water, it’s not safe and you can become sick after drinking.

Nabi Musa
Nabi Musa

Another road off the highway towards Jericho will take you to the complex of Nabi Musa (Prophet Moses; 8am till sunset). About 10km north of the Dead Sea, this is where Muslims believe Moses (Musa in Arabic, Moshe in Hebrew) was buried.

Nabi Musa
Nabi Musa

A mosque was built on the site in 1269, under Mamluk Sultan Baybar (it was expanded two centuries later) and annual week-long pilgrimages set out from Jerusalem to Nabi Musa – they continue today.

Nabi Musa Muslim graveyard
Nabi Musa Muslim graveyard

The road beyond the mosque takes  you past a Muslim graveyard – including the tomb of a former imam of Nabi Musa, sadly today covered in graffiti – and then into the Judean desert for some 20km. The road passes solitary camels, abandoned tanks and vast open desert.

St. Catherine’s Monastery – a Gem in the Egyptian Desert

The Monastery of St. Catherine, also known as the Monastery of the Transfiguration, is located in a triangular area between the Desert of El-Tih, the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba in the Sinai. It is situated at an altitude of 1,480 meters in a small, picturesque narrow valley between the mountains. It is a region of wilderness made up of granite rock and rugged mountains which, at first glance, seems inaccessible. In fact, while small towns and villages have grown up on the shores of the two gulfs, only a few Bedouin nomads roam the mountains and arid land inland. Well known mountains dominate this region, including Mount Sinai (2,285 meters), Mount St.Catherine (map) (2,637 meters) and Mount Serbal (map) (2,070 meters). Click here for the Gallery.



St. Catherine’s Monastery - Maps
St. Catherine’s Monastery – Maps

This is the region through which Moses is said to have led his people, eventually to the Promised Land, and there are legends of their passing in many places. Of course, one of the most exceptional locations is that of Mount Sinai, where Moses met with God who delivered to him the tablets containing the Ten Commandments. Obviously, the region is sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims alike.

The Orthodox establishment monastery holds the burning bush from which God first revealed himself to Moses. It also contains a treasure trove of icons, unique mosaic and ancient manuscripts. It’s also one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world and has been the center of monastic life in the southern Sinai.

While grazing his flocks on the side of Mt. Horeb, Moses came upon a burning bush that was, miraculously, unconsumed by its own flames. A voice speaking out of the fire (Exodus 3:1-13) commanded him to lead his people out of bondage in Egypt and return with them to the mountain. Upon his return Moses twice climbed the mountain to commune with God. Regarding the second ascent, Exodus 24: 16-18 states: And the glory of the Lord abode upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and the seventh day God called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. And the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses entered into the midst of the cloud, and went up into the mount; and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights. During this time on the mountain Moses received two tablets upon which God had inscribed the Ten Commandments, as well as precise dimensions for the Arc of the Covenant, a portable box-like shrine that would contain the tablets. Soon thereafter, the Arc of the Covenant was constructed and Moses and his people departed from Mount Sinai.

St. Catherine’s Monastery - Monks
St. Catherine’s Monastery – Monks

Monks have lived here almost without interruption since the Byzantine Emperor Justinian built the monastery in the 6th century. An earlier chapel on the site is said to have been erected on St Helena’s orders in 337. Since the location was difficult to protect from violent tribes, Emperor Justinian surrounded the monastery with a high wall of close-fitting granite stones, about 2 meters thick. Most of what can be seen on the site today dates back to the 6th century.

The Burning Bush

St. Catherine’s Monastery - Burning bush
St. Catherine’s Monastery – Burning bush

The holiest part of St Catherine’s Monastery is the Chapel of the Burning Bush, a small chamber behind the altar of the basilica. It is often closed to the public and those who enter must remove their shoes, just as Moses did when he approached the burning bush (Exodus 3:2-5). Under the chapel’s altar is a silver star which is believed to mark the site of the bush from which God called Moses to lead his people out of Egypt.

The reputed bush was transplanted several meters away. The pilgrim Egeria, who visited between 381 and 384, described it as “still alive and sprouting”, and situated within a pretty garden and it sill is.

Moses’ well

St. Catherine’s Monastery - Moses' well
St. Catherine’s Monastery – Moses’ well

St Catherine’s Monastery also holds the Well of Moses, also known as the Well of Jethro, where Moses is said to have met his future wife, Zipporah.

As recounted in Exodus (2:15-21), Moses was resting by the well when the seven daughters of Jethro (also called Reuel) came to draw water. Some shepherds drove them away and Moses came to their defence. In gratitude, Jethro invited Moses to his home and gave him his daughter Zipporah in marriage.

The well is still one of the monastery’s main sources of water.

Monks’ Bones

St. Catherine’s Monastery - Maps
St. Catherine’s Monastery – Maps
St. Catherine’s Monastery
St. Catherine’s Monastery

When monks die, they will be buried in the cemetery (see above). After their bones decay, they will be exhumed  and transferred to the charnel house, where they will be cleaned and categorized. You can see the bones of thousands of deceased monks, with separate piles for legs, hands, feet, ribs and skulls. Martyrs and archbishops are in open coffins.

St. Catherine’s Monastery
St. Catherine’s Monastery

Inside the door, dressed in purple robes, sits the skeleton of Stephanos, a 6th-century guardian of the path to Mount Sinai.

Mosque

An unusual feature of the monastery compound is a mosque. Originally built in the 6th century as a hospice for pilgrims, it was converted to a mosque in 1106 for the use of local Bedouin, some of whom work at the monastery.

Of the monastery’s four original gates, three in the northwestern wall have been blocked for hundreds of years. Until the middle of the 19th century, access was by basket and pulley to a gate about 9 meters above ground level in the northeastern wall. Then a new gate was opened in the northwestern wall.

Protection from Mohammad

By the 7th century, the Monastery faced a dangerous situation and a grave crisis, mainly due to the Arab conquest. By the year 808, the number of monks in the monastery had been reduced to thirty, while Christian life on the Sinai peninsula had all but vanished. However, the monastery itself did not vanish.

The Fathers of the Monastery requested the protection of Mohammed himself, who saw the Christians as brothers in faith. Apparently, the request was favorably accepted and the so called ahtiname, or “immunity covenant” by Mohammed instructed his followers to protect the monks of the Sinai. Though this document has been a matter of controversy, it is doubtful that the monastery could have survived without the protection afforded by Mohammed and his successors.

Tourists and Pilgrims

Through the 14th century, many thousands of pilgrims came annually to the monastery, even though the journey from Cairo took eight days by foot and camel.
Following the Reformation, the popularity of Christian pilgrimage drastically declined until, during the mid 1900s, no more than 80 to100 pilgrims made the arduous journey each year.
In the 1950s the Egyptian government paved roads leading to oil fields and mines along the western Sinai coast and also developed a dirt track to the foot of Jebel Musa and the monastery, which allowed increasing numbers of secular tourists to travel in taxis from Cairo.
The completion of a paved road further increased the number of visitors to Jebel Musa. Bus service to and from Cairo became available on a daily basis in 1986 and today it is not uncommon for a hundred or more pilgrims and tourists to visit the ancient sacred site in a single day.
Currently Greek Orthodox monks tend the monastery and its extraordinary collection of Byzantine art and illuminated manuscripts.

St. Catherine’s Monastery Today

St. Catherine’s Monastery might have mighty walls and is defensively designed, but it can’t hold an attack against mortars, guns and rockets. The region is restless and it’s known that terrorists and Islamic extremists are active. Bedouins resume their duty and didn’t forget their vows to protect the Monastery, but that might not be enough!
For you, my traveler and Pilgrim, who want to pilgrimage to the St. Catherine Monastery, you are at risk to be attacked by these extremists. For the time being, please wait until the region is safe again before you go here.