Founded at least 6000 years BCE, the village of Abu Ghosh was built around a spring that flows abundantly throughout the entire year, and on an axis that was to become the path of pilgrims going from the coast to Jerusalem.
Starting in biblical times, the place had a name: Kyriat Yearim. Its history is marked by the presence of the Ark of the Covenant during the time of King David (1 Kings). In this place, Christian memory of the Holy Land placed the “road to Emmaus” that led the two discouraged disciples to their encounter with the risen Lord (Luke 24).
The Holy Land, which is itself a land of crossroads, then saw the Romans invade the country; in Abu Ghosh, they built cisterns for the spring. Then the Byzantine civilization blossomed all around…
The events, cultures and religious facts began to cross one another in this place of passage and of pilgrimage, where soon the caliphs from Baghdad built a caravanserai, the remains of which furnish the foundations of a structure that can still be seen around the monastery. This made it possible at the time of the Crusaders to construct a guesthouse and a convent next to a church that was built over the spring.
Commissioned by the Order of Hospitalers of St. John (which became the Order of Malta), this church and its convent were probably at the service of a project to establish a specific site for the pilgrims around the gospel episode of Emmaus and the Lord’s resurrection.
Then the Emmaus project came to a sudden halt with the arrival of Saladin in 1187, and another culture lastingly installed itself. The Mamelukes left their mark, transforming the convent-fortress into a caravanserai. Then Muslim families came to live there, and they created in the real sense the village of Abu Ghosh. For a long time, they controlled this place where pilgrims passed, before they themselves were confronted in the 20th century with a new challenge: the Jewish presence and the clashes in the Israeli-Arab conflict. Once again, circumstances made it possible for Abu Ghosh to choose to remain a place of passage, a crossroads, where Jews, Christians and Muslims of various nationalities and origins continued to pass.