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Latrun Trappist Monastery The Monastery of Silence

Latrun is a strategic hilltop overlooks the road to Jerusalem, located 25 kilometers west of.

The origin of the name of Latrun derives from corruption of the name of a Crusader stronghold in the area, ' Le toron des chevaliers'.

In December 1890, The Latrun monastery was established in Latrun by French, German and Flemish monks of the Trappists, from Sept-Fons Abbey in France, at the request of Monseigneur Poyet of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The monastery is dedicated to Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows. The monks bought the ‘Maccabee Hotel’, formerly called ‘The Howard’ from the Batato brothers together with two-hundred hectares of land and started the community in a building which still stands in the monastic domain. In 1909 it was given the status of a Priory and that of an Abbey in 1937. The monks established a vineyard using knowledge gained in France and advice from an expert in the employ of Baron Edmond James de Rothschild from the Carmel-Mizrahi Winery. Today they produce a wide variety of wines that are sold in the Abbey shop and elsewhere.

In the  Bible, the Ayalon Valley was the site of a battle in which the Israelites, led by Joshua, defeated the Amorites (Joshua 10:1-11).Later, Judah  the Maccabee established his camp here in preparation for battle with the Greeks, who had invaded Judea and were camped at Emmaus. According to the Book of Maccabees, Judah the Maccabee learned that the Greeks were planning to march on his position, and successfully ambushed the invaders. The Jewish victory in  Emmaus led to greater Jewish autonomy under Hasmonean rule over the next century.

Little remains of the castle, which was held by the Templars by 1187. The main tower was later surrounded with a rectangular enclosure with vaulted chambers. This in turn was enclosed by an outer court, of which one tower survives.

The Monastery of the Seven Sorrows, better known as the Latrun Monastery or the Monastery of the Silence, is a Benedictine-Sistressian-Trappist monastery located in Latroun, at the southeastern tip of the Ayalon Valley.

 

In somewhere 1879 or according  to a different source in 1875,  Carmelite nuns purchased agricultural land from the Arab village of Imwas, north of Latrun. Around the same time, in the years 1877-1877, two entrepreneurs - Alexander Howard (originally his name Iskander Awad) who was a Christian from the Maronite community whose family came from Malta and the local Emil Batat - established a hotel at the foot of the Latrun hill, which houses the remains of the Crusader fortress of Latrun. The hotel was named after the Maccabees Hotel and served the passengers from Jaffa to Jerusalem, a journey that lasted for about two days. In 1892 the railway line between Jaffa and Jerusalem was inaugurated, and the passengers of the carriages were reduced and the hotel was sold.

The name of the fortress of Latrun - "Le toron des chevaliers" - was disrupted over the years to the "Latrun".  This  led to the development of a Christian tradition, according to which Dismas, the "good thief" who was crucified alongside Jesus (in Latin "boni latronis") was born.

In 1887, a Trappist monk came to Israel to establish a monastery in Latrun. The monk, Louis Villa, bought the hotel and lived alone. The decision to build the monastery in this area was made possible because of its proximity to Emmaus Nicopolis, an ancient Roman-Byzantine city located in the Latrun ridge, which Christian tradition identifies as one of the places where Jesus was revealed to two of his disciples after he was resurrected.

After three years, in 1890, when other monks joined it, the monastery was founded. The monks received from the Carmelite nuns who did not farm some of the agricultural land they owned, and began to make it kosher. They planted olive trees, vineyards, grain fields and vegetable gardens, and pine and cypress trees were planted in areas unsuitable for agriculture. The monks encountered a severe problem of water shortage and were forced to deal with a hostile attitude by the Arabs of the neighboring villages, which improved over time due to a clinic they established in the monastery. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem granted the monastery its collection of books, which served as the basis for the library of the monastery.

 

 

During the First World War, the Turks expelled the monks who were citizens of France, and some of them were drafted into the army and even killed in battle. The monastery became a military camp of the Ottoman army and caused heavy damage. It was looted and the library destroyed. The monks returned to the monastery in 1919. In 1926, the monastery structure began to expand in a style defined by the monks as a "Romanesque-Byzantine style" and gradually began to take on its present-day character. Construction was completed in 1960, but the church was consecrated only in 1999. Between 1948 and 1967 the monastery was controlled by Jordan, and it was situated on the border of no-man's land between Jordan and Israel.

 

 

On September 4, 2012, the front door of the monastery church was set on fire, with the names of outposts in Judea and Samaria sprayed on its walls, alongside the words "mutual guarantee." More graffiti were also sprayed against Jesus. The event drew sharp reactions from the heads of the Christian churches in Israel, including Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Custos of the Custody of the Holy Land, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fuad Twal and the Maronite Archbishop. In addition, a member of the Catholic bishops in the Holy Land published a strong statement condemning the incident.

 

 

Only men who have reached the age of 21 years may be admitted to the convent and must stand for a six-year probationary period. Some twenty monks from different nationalities live in the monastery. The monks are characterized by a minority in speech. In the past, it was customary to have a conversation only during prayer itself, but today there is no longer any restriction on the dialogue between the monks. At the same time, they continue to minimize their talk, especially with strangers who come to the place.

 

 

The day in the monastery opens at 3:00 am and the first hours until sunrise are dedicated to individual prayer and the public and to study. In the morning, the monks are taken to work, and in the afternoon they are again devoted to prayer, study and work, as well as meditation. The monastery has a vegetarian kitchen, since eating meat, fish and eggs is forbidden. The young people work in agriculture on the 400-dunam (400-acre) grounds of the monastery. The wines are sold at the entrance to the monastery, along with other agricultural products, such as honey, olive oil and olives, as well as souvenirs and books. The hostel has a hostel that serves young volunteers from France and Germany, but anyone can live there.

 

 

The church space is almost completely decorated, in accordance with the articles of the Trappist monks, which require modesty and minimalism. This focuses attention on the statue of Mary holding the baby Jesus in her hands, giving him a cross. The statue, which stood in an alcove in the apse on the eastern side of the church, was commissioned in 1954 from a sculpture in Italy weighing three tons. A church organ is also visible on the right side of the entrance,  and the stationing of stations through the agony of Jesus. Outside the church, above the front door, is Lenta, where Jesus is seen dining with his two disciples in nearby Emmaus, after rising from the dead.

In the courtyard of the monastery is an archaeological collection of items from the Latrun area. Among the items in the collection are ossuaries, fragments of decorated columns and the tomb inscription of a soldier of the Fifth Legion of Macedonia.

 

 

Next to the entrance to the monastery, in a garden called the "Garden of Brotherhood", is a tall monument carved in wood in the form of a totem, known as "a man in his faith will live." The monument presents three figures from the 12th century, who are members of the three religions representing the abbot's opinion, the tolerance. The statue was erected in December 2006. The figures are:

• Rashi - a great commentator on the Bible and the Talmud who demanded that "My Heart tends to allow those who forgive."

Bernard MacLerbo, father of the Order of the Trapists, who despite being a supporter of the crusades, objected to the attack on the Jews and said that "harming the Jews is like hitting the eye of Jesus."

• Saladin - after the Battle of Hattin, showed great generosity and allowed the inhabitants of every Crusader fortress and city to surrender, to leave them in peace.