The name of this Franciscan monastery, built around a spring on a wooded slope south of Jerusalem, calls to mind the childhood wanderings of John the Baptist in this region. Born close by in Ein Karem according to tradition, Luke tells us that John “grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel” (1:80(
Luke’s words take on new meaning here, in a green landscape we would not normally think of as “desert.” Crystal spring water flows from an ancient channel to a pool surrounded by water-loving plants, above a cave once inhabited by solitude-seeking monks. But one biblical name for uncultivated land is "midbar", often translated as desert, but actually meaning pastureland. John, who sought the purity of such surroundings as these, would certainly have known these hills like the back of his hand, making this site an excellent place for open-air Scripture study.