Deir Mar Jirys - CHOZIBA


Once no woman was permitted into the monastery of Choziba. The occasion of their admittance was as follows. There was a gentlewoman from Byzantium who had an internal disease that was incurable. Though she had spent great sums of money (in medical treatment). she became worse. So she decided to travel from Byzantium to the holy city to pray; and after having reached Jerusalem and prayed there, she went around the monasteries begging (to be cured) and making many offerings to the fathers, whose prayers she would ask for her recovery and salvation. Then, while she was being carried in her sedan chair up the ascent of St. Zachary, she had a vision of our holy the Mother of God, who said to her: “Why, Madam, do you go about everywhere and to my own house you come not?” The gentlewoman replied: “But where is your house, my lady, for me to go there?” Said our Lady: “When you climb to the so-called drinking point, down in the ravine. there is my house” “My lady,” replied the woman, “I hear that no woman is permitted to enter there.” The blessed one said to her: “Come on, go down there and I shall lead you in and grant you recovery as well.” All this was done (by the Mother of God), I think. to make it known to all that this holy place belongs to her and its affairs are in her power, to do as she likes whenever and however she likes.

So, when the woman reached the place indicated (the ‘drinking point’), she ordered to her escort: “Bring me to the monastery down there in the ravine, on the right side”. But they replied: “Mylady, it is impossible to take a sedan chair down there; and anyway no woman may enter, and for this reason we did not suggest your descending there.” “Take me there on a mule she said. “for the Mistress of the universe herself urged me to descend to this place.” This was done, and when she came down, the fathers were performing the evening service, and our Lady disposed that they all should be at the evening service, and that the gate keepers should be one in the church, the other gone to the kitchen for some need. So the woman entered with her escort as far as the inner court; for the gatehouse was never locked until the third hour of the night. Then one of the brothers saw the women in the court and went running into the church to announce the fact. A commotion broke out, and the provost <the first of the monks after the abbot>, informed of the matter, came hurringly out scolding and threatening the gatekeepers. Seeing the provost so agitated, the gentlewoman said to him: “Do not be angry. father: nobody is guilty of my entering here”. And taking him aside, she related the vision of our Lady, and how she had promised both to let her in and to cure her. Then she asked where he wanted her to rest. The hegumen, having taken counsel with the clergymen and the elders, decided: “This comes from our Lady: we cannot resist.” And they made her rest in the diaconicon, for in the church it was impossible, on account of the divine office (that was taking place there). And so, when the signal of the nocturnal service was sounded, she rose and came out healed, proclaiming the vision of our Lady, the grace of her recovery and her conversion as well, for she was heterodox and did not communicate with the Catholic Church …

(transl. Leah Di Segni)


A woman is allowed to enter the monastery, from an early seventh century appendix to the Life of George the Chozibite.