“The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.” (Luke 1,80)
South of Jerusalem lays a beautiful Franciscan monastery paying homage to John the Baptist and his childhood wanderings. The Monastery of St. John in the Wilderness was built on the place that is traditionally believed to be where John was raised. It is known as Ain el-Habis, meaning “spring of the hermit.”
While it is often thought of as being a desert wilderness, the landscape surrounding this monastery is lush and green. There are two caves located below the monastery that hold religious significance. The first contains water and is used for baptisms and ritual bathing. The second is believed to be where John’s parents hid with young John to save their child from Herod’s massacre of the innocents. Today there is a fresco that can be seen at the back of the cave depicting John and his mother hiding.
Visitors of the monastery are welcome throughout the year. A special evening prayer service is held annually on June 23rd to commemorate John the Baptist growing strong in the spirit in the wilderness.
Sources: America Israel Travel