Clinging to the steep cliff of the Wadi Qilt above a small garden with olive trees and cypresses, this perfect example of a monastery in the Judean desert has always been famous for its hospitality which, from the C6, has also been extended to women.
A small oratory built by five hermits (AD 420-30) was transformed into a monastery by John of Thebes about 480. The numerous cave-dwelling hermits came there for the divine liturgy on Saturdays and Sundays. The direction of St George of Koziba gave the monastery its period of greatest renown in the second half of the C6 and led to its present name. born in Cyprus c.550 he trained as a monk here, but lived at the laura of Calamon in the Jordan valley before an intense desire for the ascetic life drove him to take up residence in one of the caves in the Wadi Qilt. Although virtually abandoned after the destructive visit of the Persians (614), the legends which still influence its iconography came into being in the C8 and C10. The prophet Elijah stayed there on his way to Sinai; there St Joachim wept because of the sterility of his wife Anne and an angel announced to him the conception of the Virgin Mary.
The monastery was restored in 1179 by the emperor Manuel I Comnenus (1143-80). In 1483 Felix Fabri saw only ruins. Reconstruction of the monastery began in 1878 and was completed in 1901.
Source: The Holy Land by Jerome Murphy-O’Connor