Dorothea of Bethany
Dorothea of Bethany is the Mother Abbess of St Anne's Abbey in Acre.
She is an elderly woman and infirm; many of her duties are delegated to her exceptionally able prioress, Sister Fidelia. However, she still exercises a gentle spiritual authority over her many daughters in religion, and appears in public on certain great ceremonial occasions.
Dorothea was given to a priory in Jerusalem as an oblate when she was a small child; she doesn't know who her parents were, or remember them. She was named for St Dorothea of Caesarea, a virgin martyr much venerated at the time, and brought up to be a nun, eventually moving with her sisters to the convent of St Lazarus at Bethany after its founding by Queen Melisende in 1143. She lived the rest of her life within the protection of those sacred walls, though her reputation as a pure and saintly sister, and later as a wise and good abbess, came to stretch far beyond them. St Lazarus's became a place of pilgrimage not only for its holy antecedents, but for the spiritual comfort and tender understanding offered by its abbess to sinners and paragons alike.
In the year 1187 Saladin's armies threatened Jerusalem. This sheltered old lady rose to the occasion, ordering her nuns to pack up their habits and relics and set off away from the only home she and they had ever known -- to Tyre, to exile, to who knew what.
When Acre was retaken Dorothea and her flock were installed at St Anne's Abbey in the Templar Quarter -- a new home for some of them, but for others an old home regained.
In Tyre she had been assiduous in gathering under her wing as many other displaced nuns as she heard tell of; the task of uniting into a single harmonious community these dozens of women who had previously been set in rather different ways, has been possible perhaps only because of the deep respect in which she is held by all. Certainly no one else could have managed it so quickly and so peacefully. This, more than anything else, is her life's work. It is not yet complete.