September 24, 2012

The Defile and Tomb of St. Thekla in Maaloula, Syria

Maaloula, which means "entrance" in Arimaic, is an important center for Christianity, mostly known for the Convent of St. Thekla. St. Thekla was a pupil of St. Paul who is said to have faced a wondrous martyrdom. Her father, a Seleucid prince, sent soldiers to pursue and execute her because she had become a Christian. When she came to the cliffs of Qallamoun she found herself trapped and prayed to God for help. Her prayer was answered when a narrow cleft was opened in the rock face, allowing her to escape to a small cave high up the cliffs. Though she reposed there peacefully, she is considered among the first Christian martyrs.

The defile of St. Thekla is where this event took place and is located to the left of the Convent, among numerous shrines and caves. Walking through the defile will take you to her cave which is her tomb.