Like its sister village of Maalula just 30 kilometers away, Seidnaya – in arabic Our Lady, is renowned for its picturesque views and Christian heritage.  After Jerusalem, Seidnaya has been the most famous center for Christian pilgrimage in the east since the sixth century A.D., when a vision of the Virgin Mary appeared to the Byzantine Emperor Justinian while he was hunting a deer in the area.  The deer miraculously transformed into the Virgin Mary, who asked him to build a shrine in her honor on the site.   The convent at Seidnaya contains one of the most important icons in the Christian world, believed to have been painted by St. Luke the Evangelist.