Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

A titular see in Palaestina Prima. The former name of this city seems to have been Beth Gabra, "the house of the strong men", which later became Beît Djibrîn, "the house of Gabriel". Vespasian slaughtered almost all its inhabitants, according to Josephus, De Bell. Jud., IV., viii, 1, where its name is written Betaris. In A.D. 200 Septimius Severus, on his Syrian journey changed its name to Eleutheropolis, and it soon became one of the most important cities of Judea. Its special era, which figures on its coins and in many inscriptions, began 1 January, A.D. 200. (See Echos d'Orient, 1903, 310 sq.; 1904,215 sq.) Its first known bishop is Macrinus (325);five others are mentioned in the fourth and two in the sixth century ( Lequien, Or. Christ., III, 631). In 393, during the episcopate of Zebennus, the relics of the Prophets Habakuk and Micah were found at Ceila and Tell Zakariya near Eleutheropolis ( Sozomen, H.E., VII, xxix). At Eleutheropolis was born St. Epiphanius , the celebrated bishop of Salamis in Cyprus ; at Ad in the neighbourhood he established a monastery which is often mentioned in the polemics of St. Jerome with Rufinus and John, Bishop of Jerusalem. The city was, moreover, an important monastic centre at least till the coming of the Arabs. The latter beheaded (638) at Eleutheropolis fifty soldiers of the garrison of Gaza who had refused to apostatize. They were buried in a church built in their honour. (See Anal. Bolland., 1904, 289 sq., and Echos d'Orient, 1905, 40 sq.) The city was destroyed by the Mussulmans in 796 in the civil wars. The Crusaders erected there a fortress, in 1134, under Fulco of Anjou; the Knights of St. John, to whom it was committed, restored at this time the beautiful Byzantine church at Sandahanna. The citadel was taken in 1187 by Saladin, conquered in 1191 by Richard Lion Heart, destroyed in 1264 by Sultan Bibars, and rebuilt in 1551 by the Turks. Today Beît Djibrîn is a village with about 1000 Mussulman inhabitants, on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza, in a fertile and very healthy region. The medieval fortress still stand, about 180 feet square; there are also remains of the walls, ruins of a cloister, and of a medieval church. In the neighbourhood are remarkable grottoes, which filled St. Jerome with wonderment. Some of these grottoes were used in early Christian times as places of worship; others bear Arabic inscriptions.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 3:2-12
2 You have surely heard the way in which God ... Read More

Psalm, Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6
2 Look, he is the God of my salvation: I shall have ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:39-48
39 You may be quite sure of this, that if the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 22nd, 2014 Image

St. Pope John Paul II
October 22: Karol J. Wojtyla, known as John Paul II since his October 1978 ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter