Saint Catherine's Monastery
Also found in: Wikipedia.
Saint Catherine’s Monastery (Egypt)(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
Among the holiest of sites for both Christians and Jews is the mountain where God is said to have given His laws to Moses. Many identify that spot, variously called Mount Sinai or Mount Horeb, with a mountain peak otherwise named Jebel Musa. Mount Sinai also has religious significance for Muslims, who identify it as the place where Mohammad’s horse ascended into heaven. This mountain was visited in the fourth century by Constantine’s mother, Helena (c. 248-c. 329), on her famous trip to the Holy Land, during which she identified a number of holy sites and gathered a number of reputed relics of Jesus and those closest to him. While at Jebel Musa, she erected a tower and small church. During the reign of the Emperor Justinian I (483–565), a monastery was purportedly constructed at the site of the tower. It appears that, in fact, Justinian was responsible for building the castle-like structure, Saint Catherine’s Monastery, to protect the monks who had come to reside in the area, possibly since the time of Helena’s visit.
Saint Catherine’s Monastery has changed little since the sixth century. Its main entrance is still marked by the large wooden door that is now1,400 years old. Inside are inscriptions in honor of the Emperor Justinian and his “late Empress” Theodora. They appear to have been created sometime between Theodora’s death in 548 and Justinian’s in 565.
A path behind the monastery leads up the mountain to the spot where, it is alleged, God inscribed the law on a rock tablet. On that spot there is now a small chapel. Inside the chapel is the rock that is said to be the source from which the tablets were made; on the western wall is a crevice where Moses hid when God’s glory passed by (Exodus 33:22). Of equal importance to the mountain behind the monastery is another treasure—the burning bush. Visitors to Saint Catherine’s will today be taken to see the bush that some believe was the same one Moses saw burning without being consumed (Exodus 3).
At a later date, Sinai was said to have been visited by the prophet Elijah, who had an encounter with God after his devastating dealings with Queen Jezebel. The spot he heard God speak is marked by a spot halfway up the mountain called Elijah’s Basin (I Kings 19).
Also among the monastery’s treasures is a library of ancient manuscripts and icons that is often compared to the Vatican library in its importance. The collection includes thousands of volumes written in a spectrum of ancient languages—Greek, Coptic, Arabic, Armenian, Hebrew, Slavic, Syriac, etc. The most well-known item found in the library is the fourth century Codex Sinaiticus (now in the British Museum in London). This is one of the most ancient complete texts of the New Testament. It was discovered in the 1850s by Constantin von Tischendorf (1815–1874), a German biblical scholar.
Saint Catherine’s was named after the legendary Saint Catherine of Alexandria. She was a young girl who converted to Christianity after experiencing a vision. She was subsequently martyred by beheading, and angels took her body to Mount Sinai, where it was found and identified by one of the monks. The Saint Catherine story is now considered largely spurious.