Our Lady of Saidnaya Monastery
دير سيدة صيدنايا
|Full name||Our Lady of Saydnaya Patriarchal Monastery (Arabic: دير سيدة صيدنايا البطريركي)|
|Order||Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch|
|Dedicated to||Mary, mother of Jesus|
|Location||Saidnaya, al-Tall District, Rif Dimashq Governorate, Syria|
Our Lady of Saydnaya Patriarchal Monastery (Arabic: دير سيدة صيدنايا البطريركي) is a monastery of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch located in Saidnaya, Syria. It is one of the most ancient monasteries in the world and in the region of the Middle East and North Africa, traditionally held to have been founded by Byzantine emperor Justinian I in 547 AD. It is run by a religious order of nuns. It is an important pilgrimage site for Christians and Muslims, who visit an icon of Saint Mary which is attributed to Saint Luke.
The main chapel has numerous icons and a wooden iconostasis in front of the altar. The pilgrimage shrine, separate from the main chapel, contains the aforementioned icon of Mary, called Shaghoura ("the Illustrious"). The icon is kept hidden behind an ornate, silver-doored niche, while on either side of this shrine are a number of later icons. Numerous beaten silver crosses and other religious symbols, left as ex votos by pilgrims, are displayed on the walls.
Tradition holds that the monastery was built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I in 547 AD, following two visions of Mary. One indicated the intended site of the church, while the other outlined its design. Justinian dedicated the finished project on the Feast of Mary's Nativity, and annually thereafter on September 8, both Christian and later Muslim pilgrims arrive at the monastery to honour Our Lady of Saidnaya.
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