The Laura of Gerasimus – A Byzantine-era Cells Monastery
The Laura of Saint Gerasimus (also spelled Gerasimos) is possibly the best example of a Laura-type monastery in the Byzantine period. It demonstrates the ascetic life Christian monks adhered to in antiquity.
History of the Lauara of Gerasimus
With the advent of Christianity in the 4th century, the Holy Land became a focal point for Christian pilgrims worldwide. Some also settled in isolated locations, following the principles of Christian monasticism. In the 5th century, a monk named Gerasimus settled in a cave in the plains east of Jericho, about a 1 mile west of Jesus’ Baptism Site. Other monks who joined him formed a Laura-type monastery. During the week, each monk lived independently, praying and weaving baskets. Monks would meet at church on the weekend for liturgy and communal meals. All Judean Desert monasteries were attacked in the Persian invasion of 614 CE. The Laura of Gerasmius was never settled again, but its carved caves are well preserved, a testimony to this former strict monastic lifestyle.
Touring the Laura of Gerasimus
The carved cells of Gerasimus’ Laura are clustered next to the dry river bed (Wadi), about half a mile east of the Monastery of Saint Gerasimos. A dirt road leads from the monastery’s parking lot to the site.
A tour to the Laura of Gerasimus can combine a day tour of the Dead Sea.