Syriac Orthodox Monastery of Saint Mark

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Syriac Orthodox Monastery of Saint Mark, located in the Old City of Jerusalem, is a monastery and church affiliated with the Syriac Orthodox tradition. According to a Christian tradition church is believed to have been constructed on the historic site where Mary, the mother of Saint Mark the Evangelist (mentioned in Acts 12:12), once lived and where Christ had the Last Supper with His disciples. It is worth noting that some Christians hold an alternative belief, contending that the episode of Last Supper took place at the nearby Cenacle on Mount Zion.

See Subject Home > Middle East > Israel/Palestine > Jerusalem > Syriac Orthodox Monastery of Saint Mark


The Monastery of St. Mark within Jaffa Gate is situated on Ararat Street, weaving through the primary thoroughfares of the Arab market and the Armenian Quarter. The attribution of the site as the Cenacle or the Upper Room is based on a sixth century CE inscription discovered during a 1940 CE restoration at the Monastery of Saint Mark which reads;

This is the house of Mary, mother of John, called Mark. Proclaimed a church by the holy apostles under the name of the Virgin Mary, mother of God, after the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ into heaven. Renewed after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in the year CE 73.

A number of historical accounts mention the existence of the ancient monastery at the site and is believed to have been visited by a number of ancient pilgrims from the West as well as the East, including the Bordeaux Pilgrim in 333 CE, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem in 348 CE, and Saint Sylvia of Aquitaine in 385 CE.

The Syriac Monastery mentioned was the site of a significant event in the summer of 1947. During this time, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Mar Samuel made a notable purchase of three Dead Sea Scrolls from a figure named Kando. Kando, known both as a cobbler and an antiquities dealer, was also a member of the Syrian Orthodox community.

The three specific scrolls acquired during this transaction were The Rule of the Community, the Habakkuk Pesher, and the Great Isaiah Scroll. Following the purchase, John Trever, associated with the American School of Oriental Research, photographed these scrolls. Eventually, the content of these scrolls was published in a work titled "The Dead Sea Scrolls of St. Mark’s Monastery." This publication likely provided valuable insights into the textual and historical aspects of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in that region.


circa 1200 CE

Prayer Hall
The unassuming and small rectangular building consists of a single prayer hall. The guilded iconostasis is built in to the apse on the western end of the prayer hall. According to the traditions the current church building of modest construction dates back to the early Crusader period and consists of a single room, with a vaulted ceiling. Lacking pillars, it doesn’t even qualify as a small basilica. On the western end of the prayer hall of the small church building a stairway leads down to an underground chamber.

circa 1200 CE

The "Upper Room"
It is this small chamber, devoid of any decorations and built in simple Jerusalem stone, which is identified as the "first church of Christianity". This identification is based on another tradition which marks the site as the "house of the saint Mark" and the site of Jesus' last supper. This chamber contains a relatively small arched altar where a gilded cross is placed.

Gallery Want to use our images?

See Also


Let's bring some history to your inbox

Signup for our monthly newsletter / online magazine.
No spam, we promise.

Privacy Policy