St. Matthew’s Monastery

Dayro d-Mor Matay Monastery (St. Matthew’s Monastery) is a third Century Monastery still operated by Monks who live on site and guide visitors through this fascinating ancient evidence of Christianity in the region. The Monastery is one of eastern Christendom’s most famous sites and apart from a few forced closures has been in continuous use for nearly 2000 years. 

Located on the Alfaf Mountain 35 km. northeast of Mosul (Nineveh), the Mor Matay monastery (known in Arabic as Deir Mar Matta) was founded in the fourth century. According to hagiographic tradition, a saint by name Matay lived in this mountain. One day, the son of the local king, Behnam, went hunting in the mountain where he met the saint. Impressed by his teachings, Behnam went back to his mother and persuaded her to let him take his sister Sarah, who had a disease, to the saint. The saint cured her. After the miracle, the saint baptized both Sarah and Behnam. Upon hearing the news, their father, the king, was angered and he ordered that they be put to death. The king was then struck with a disease. Behnam appeared to his mother in a dream and told her to get Mor Matay. She did and the saint cured the king. To show his gratitude, the king built a monastery in the mountain.