Situation is critical for Saint Hilarion Monastery

Saint Hilarion, at Tel Umm al-Amr in the Gaza Strip, is considered the Holy Land's oldest monastery. The site, named for a 4th century hermit, is in danger of destruction due to lack of funds.

"It's a complete mess -- archaeologically, scientifically and on a human level," laments Rene Elter, a researcher at the Ecole Biblique, a French academic institution in Jerusalem, who is responsible for trying preserve the site. Only a fraction of the funds needed have been collected.

The remains of the monastery include "a church and large crypt, a chapel, several baptismal fonts, living quarters and a refectory for the monks. In the northern sector, there is an inn and bathing pools for the pilgrims who once visited."