Mount Sinai

The desert of Sinai is the holy place where God met with man. It is also the place where God’s chosen people escaped Pharaoh’s slavery. This is the place where Moses saw the miracle of the burning -but not consumed- bush and received God’s Law on the top of Mount Horeb. It is the same place where Prophet Elias escaped from the wreath of the wicked kings Ahab and Jezebel. Ascetics such as Saint John of the Ladder, Saint Nile and numerous others lived here. The monastery, which was built in the 5th century by Byzantine Emperor Justinian, is dedicated to the event of Transfiguration. When Emperor Justinian built the monastery, he ordered a hundred families from Pontus and Alexandria to relocate and reside next to it in order to protect and assist the Monks. Today’s Bedouins are the indigenous custodians of the monastery entrusted with special duties and rights. Caring of the monastery is their priority and an integral part of their lives. When Saint Catherine was martyred in Alexandria in 305 AD, angels carried her body to the highest peak of Mount Sinai, St. Catherine’s Peak. The Monastery of the God-trodden Mount Sinai is thereafter called the Holy Monastery of Saint Catherine. A pilgrim visiting the Monastery today can venerate the Holy Head of St. Catherine and receive a blessed ring by the Monks in commemoration of the miracle that took place in St. Catherine’s peak. Also, pilgrims can pray in the chapel dedicated to the Burning Bush located behind the Church’s Sanctuary. Pilgrims can see Iothor’s well and venerate relics of Sinai Monks in the ossuary next to the cemetery of the monastery. The Monastery’s library is the oldest operating Christian library in the world with manuscripts dating from as early as the 4th century. Other notable shrines found in the Sinai Peninsula are the oasis of the Pharan, Tarfa and Raitho. Pilgrims can take specialized pilgrimage hikes such as a hike to the Holy Peak and visit the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments, now a chapel of the Holy Trinity. Pilgrims can also hike to St Catherine’s peak, the place where angels reposed her body following her martyrdom. In Sinai, one can also visit the cave where St. John of the Ladder lived, the hermitage of Saints Galaction and Epistimi where hermit Elder Paisius lived, the hermitage of the Phoenicians and many other interesting sites.