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Ein Kerem

The village of Ein Kerem (Karem), on the west side of Jerusalem, is according to tradition the birthplace of John the Baptist. Five churches and monasteries are located around the village: St. John (birthplace of John), Visitation church (named after virgin Mary's visited to the summer house of John), Russian monastery (Al Moskovia), Greek Orthodox convent of St. John, and the monastery of Notre Dame De Sion.

In earlier periods, the village was a Canaanite site which evolved around the spring that gave its name (Ein Kerem - "the spring of the vineyard"). The site is identified as "Beit Hakerem" from the Israelite period (Jeremiah 6, 1): "O ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem, and blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up a sign of fire in Bethhaccerem".

According to Christian tradition, the village was a summer house for Zacharias and Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist. The village was called "City of Juda" in the description of the visit by Luke.
Elizabeth (Elisheva) was the cousin of Mary, mother of Jesus. As per Luke, Mary visited Elizabeth when both were pregnant. During the visit, the baby leapt with joy in Elizabeth's womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, knowing Mary that she is about to give birth to the son of God. Mary then stayed with her cousin for 3 months until John was born, and left to Bethlehem. John is an important figure in Christianity, and regarded as the "forerunner" - since John Baptized Jesus, and proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah.

The village and the spring is Holy for Christians, and several churches and monasteries were built during the Byzantine period.
The Franciscan monks started to settle here in 1674. They purchased lands and houses. After the village expanded, more Christian orders established presence in the popular pilgrimage site. The churches and monasteries were reconstructed in the late Ottoman period and Modern times - St. John was built in the end of the 19th C and completed in 1920. The monastery of sisters of Zion (Notre Dame de Sion) was built in 1860/1. The Greek-Orthodox church was built at the end of the 19th C, and was reconstructed in 1975. The visitation church was reconstructed in 1955. The Russian church started construction in 1905.

Key Sites
Mary's Spring: The center of the ancient village evolved around the spring. The spring gave its name to the village - Ein (spring) of the Kerem (vineyard). According to Christian tradition, Virgin Mary stopped here to drink from the waters. Therefore, the spring is Holy for Christians. Pilgrims used to tap these waters into bottles and take them back home as holy souvenirs. A mosque, whose tower rises above the structure of the spring, was built over Mary's spring in the 2nd half of the 19th C.




St. John Ba Harim: A Catholic Church and monastery built over Byzantine and Crusaders chapels, and dedicated to John the Baptist. According to Christian traditions, the cave inside the church was the birth place of John the Baptist, born to Zacharias the priest and Elizabeth cousin of Mary. As per Luke 1, 5: "...a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth".




The Franciscan monks started to settle here in 1674. They purchased lands and houses, including the area of the monastery. The monastery was completed in 1895. The modern church was built in the end of the 19th C and completed in 1920. The construction was financed by the Spanish monarchs and since then the monastery is headed by the Spaniards.




Visitation church: The Franciscan Visitation church in the village of Ein Kerem (Karem), on the west side of Jerusalem, is named after Virgin Mary's visited to the summer house of the parents of John the Baptist. Ein Kerem is according to tradition the birthplace of John the Baptist.

According to Christian tradition, the village was a summer house for Zacharias and Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist. The village was called "city of Juda" in the description of the visit by Luke.

Elizabeth (Elisheva) was the cousin of Mary, mother of Jesus. As per Luke, Mary visited Elizabeth when both were pregnant (hence the name - Church of visitation). During the visit, the baby leapt with joy in Elizabeth's womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, knowing Mary that she is about to give birth to the son of God. Mary then stayed with her cousin for 3 months until John was born. The modern church was built in 1955, also on top of ancient church remnants.




Monastery of the Sisters of Zion: The monastery of Les Soeurs de Notre-Dame de Sion (Sisters of Zion) was founded by two brothers from France, Theodore and Marie Alphonse Ratisbonne, who were born Jewish and converted to Christianity. They established an orphanage here. Alphonse himself lived in the monastery and is buried in its garden.




Greek Orthodox Church: The Greek-Orthodox convent of St John the Baptist is located on the foothills of the western hill of Ein Kerem. It served the Greek-Orthodox community in Ein Kerem. The ancient church (1894) was restored in 1975.



 Russian church: The Russian church, seen below, is located above the Visitation church, on the south side of Ein Kerem. The church is located inside the area of the Russian monastery called Moskkubia (Al Moskovoia). The 5-onion-dome structure started construction in 1905 and completed only in 2005.



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