Duby Tal

ON THE COVER: Nestled in the Valley of the Cross, adjacent to modern neighborhoods outside the Old City of Jerusalem, the Monastery of the Cross enshrines the spot where the tree grew that supplied the wood for Jesus’ cross, according to Christian tradition. The fortress-like compound, which developed from a sanctuary erected in the sixth century, was supported by the predominantly Eastern Orthodox nation of Georgia in the Transcaucasus to house Georgian monks in Jerusalem until it was transferred to the care of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem in the 17th century. Though its tall walls have been assaulted by Persians, Muslims, Crusaders and Ottoman Turks, the monastery in times of peace acquired a diverse array of architectural additions (including an elaborate bell tower added in the 19th century) and a distinctive collection of Byzantine and medieval art, which are now open to the public. In “The Monastery of the Cross: Where Heaven and Earth Meet,” archaeologist Vassilios Tzaferis, a former monk who lived in the monastery for five years, recounts the legends and history of this monument of Eastern Orthodox art and culture.