Saint Sabba (439-532) is one of the great saints of the Holy Land – monk and founder of one of the most important monasteries in the Judean Desert.


Born in Cappadocia, he spent most of his life in the Holy Land. He entered a monastery at the age of eight and was a child prodigy. When he was seventeen, he was made a full monk and went to Jerusalem ten years later. He entered the monastery of Saint Euthymios but was sent to live under the strict rule of Theoctistos. There he stayed until he was thirty years old.

After a period as a hermit, Sabba began to attract disciples, first near the monastery of Saint Gerasimos, near Jericho and then in the great monastery he founded in about 484. Due to tensions in the monastery, Sabbas withdrew and founded another monastery south of Bethlehem.

In 491, the Patriarch of Jerusalem ordained Sabba and then appointed him as head of the all the monasteries in the region in 494. In this capacity he composed the first monastic rule for the monks of the Judean Desert, adopted as a guide by all Byzantine monasteries.

Sabba’s died in 532. His relics were carried off by the Crusaders but returned to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem by Pope Paul IV in 1965. They continue to be venerated in the Monastery of Saint Sabba until today.