Monastery of the Vision of St Paul

From the Patriarchal Website

His Beatitude Patriarch Theodosios VI was interested in a land parcel south of Damascus, at a site known as Kawkab. He intended to erect a gigantic building there after the old Roman or Byzantine style. It was a volcanic hill on which black stones spread. It was located to the left of the main road leading to the south, and through which a traveler passed, and cast only a careless look as there is nothing today that reminds us of St. Paul’s vision there and his guidance to Christianity nearly two thousand years ago.

“As he journeyed, he came near Damascus, and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven, and he fell to the earth and heard a voice saying unto him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” (Acts 9:3 & 4)

The ancients knew the sanctity and importance of the place, therefore, they built a monastery known as St. Paul. Nothing has remained of it except traces, some polished stones (a Corinthian column head, two wells for collecting rain water) as there are trenches and uncovered foundations of a big building and some of those walls have still some chalk . There are also stone seats .There are remains of a church that lie between the volcanic hill and the Roman road. One may also see pieces of tiles which were used in the building. The inhabitants of the nearby villages mention that many of the rocky masses were extracted out of the walls and reused in new buildings of those villages. Thus almost nothing has remained of the ancient monastery. Some of the villagers found among the debris a golden censer. Finding it is a definite proof that the building was Christian and not a pagan temple. The existence of this monastery was substantiated by affidavits from Medieval centuries from the Crusaders’ period like the books “History of Jerusalem” and “Description of The Orient” and others. The inhabitants of the neighboring villages of Kawkab are still calling that place “the Hill of St. Paul.” It is a holy place for them, and they visit it and vow to baptize their children at the top. This place has become very important, even the Russian Patriarch Alexis I, Patriarch of Moscow donated money for building a round church at his own expenses in 1965. Upon the recommendation of His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV, and due to his interest in this deserted monastery and renovating it, he has appointed Archimandrite Matthew Rizk abbot of the monastery, so as to be an Orthodox light-house out of which the light of Christ illuminates and manages his affairs by God’s will, and to render spiritual and moral service to the faithful.

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