Stella Maris Monastery: Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen! (2 Samuel 1:19)
Hours: Daily, 6:30am to 1:30pm and 3pm to 6pm
Phone Number: 04/833-7758
Stella Maris monastery is a Carmelite is a 19th century monastery built on the slopes of Mount Carmel. Located on Stella Maris Road in Haifa, Israel, Stella Maris Monastery can be reached on foot or by cable car. Across the street is the old lighthouse, and the new lighthouse, the church and the adjoining complex is all known as Stella Maris. It provides a lovely view of the sea looking out its windows.
The church at the Stella Maris Monastery is built in an Italian style using vividly colored and patterned marble. Visitors often mistake the marble for having been painted since the color is so intense. Between 1924 and 1928, Brother Luigi Poggi painted the dome on top of the church with depictions of Old Testament stories and characters; most notable is Elijah and his fiery chariot. The Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, is also a recurring subject of the art in this monastery, her statue being carved out of the cedar of Lebanon.
There is a depiction of the Virgin Mary and the birth of Jesus in the rooms to the right of the entrance. There is also a museum containing the artifacts from the Byzantine church that was once on the site and a souvenir shop for visitors. Monks hand out free pamphlets with information about the history of the site and about the Carmelite Order. The monks on site will also answer any questions and show visitors all the interesting details of the church.
A pyramid stands in the front of the church. It is a memorial to the French soldier who died at Stella Maris Monastery after Napoleon’s retreat. The pyramid is inscribed with King David’s statement about Saul and Jonathan, “How the mighty have fallen in battle.”
During the 12th century, many religious followers of Jesus began to hide and pray in the caves of this area. They did so to imitate the lifestyle of the prophet Elijah. These hermits eventually were organized into the Carmelite Order. The Carmelite Order continued to grow in Europe, but the Christians were driven out of Haifa by the Mamluks in 1291. They were unable to return to the area safely until the 18th century. They started building the current monastery and church in 1836. Earlier there was a monastery which served as a hospital for Napoleon’s soldiers during his siege of Acre in 1799. The Turks then slaughtered the abandon soldiers after Napoleon fled.