Saint Catherine's Monastery

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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.


Forsyth, William H., and Kurt Weitzmann. The Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai: The Church and Fortress of Justinian. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1973.
Galey, John. Sinai and the Monastery of St. Catherine. Givatayim, Israel: Massada, 1980.
The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena © 2008 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
FILE- A man is reflected on the glass which contains a Christian manuscript and a cross at Saint Catherine's monastery, in the Sinai Peninsula, south of Egypt, December 8, 2015.
Their topics include in the margins of the Dead Sea Scrolls, additional notes in Christian Egyptian biblical manuscripts of the fourth to eleventh centuries: brief remarks, written evidence in the Italian Giant Bibles: around and beyond the sacred text, notes and colophons of scribes and readers in Georgian biblical manuscripts from Saint Catherine's Monastery in Sinai, and toward a definition of paratexts and paratextuality: the case of ancient Greek manuscripts.
Saint Catherine's Monastery, an Eastern Orthodox Church monastery and UNESCO World Heritage site of world renown, is located in the central part of the governorate.
Today, the group travels to Sinai in order to visit Saint Catherine's Monastery, before returning back to Cyprus and Greece on Sunday.
Some of the most popular tourist destinations in Sinai are Mount Sinai (Jabal Musa) and Saint Catherine's Monastery, which is considered to be the oldest working Christian monastery in the world, and the beach resorts of Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba.
Abdel Latif said Saint Catherine, located high-up in the South Sinai mountains, is rich with historical and archaeological landmarks that attract many tourists, including Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Catherine, and the site at which where according to the Abrahamic religions God spoke to Prophet Moses.
SAINT CATHERINE'S MONASTERY AT the foot of Mount Sinai stands one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world.
In a message to the monks of Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai, the PESA said the Prophet (PBUH) showed his high regard for Christians and said: "Verily, I defend them by myself, the servants, the helpers, and my followers, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah!
Some holiday-makers already in Egypt were advised not to leave their resorts and trips were cancelled to major attractions including Luxor and the Valley of the Kings in the south and Saint Catherine's Monastery in Sinai, the world's oldest active Christian monastery.
Nearby to Sharm el Sheikh are the smaller coastal towns of Dahab and Nuweiba as well as the mountainous interior, Saint Catherine's Monastery and Mount Sinai.
Saint Catherine's Monastery in Sinai has been a centre of religious pilgrimage for over fifteen centuries, and is one of the oldest monasteries in the world.
The program includes visits to the places in which their families used to live, such as Zizinia and El Raml neighborhoods in Alexandria, followed by a visit to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, a tour of Giza Pyramids, and finally a visit to Saint Catherine's Monastery in Sharm El Sheikh.