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St Catherine’s Monastery South Sinai History

saint Catherine monastery

St Catherine’s Monastery Sinai

Catherine Monastery is one of the oldest places of worship in the world.
Founded in the 4th century, the monastery stands on the site where Moses saw the burning bush. When you visit, it’s possible to see a living descendant of that very bush.
The walled monastery complex includes a fortress, chapel, the 6th century Church of the Transfiguration and monastic buildings. The monastery was never attacked, so its famous library of rare manuscripts, priceless icons, reliquaries and artworks is complete.

St Catherine’s Monastery Sinai

saint catherine monastery
Towering 2,285 meters (7,495 feet) above the monastery is Mount Sinai. For many, the trek to the summit is a highlight of a visit to the monastery; either by following the camel trail or climbing the Steps of Repentance. At the top you’ll be rewarded by spectacular views; plus the knowledge that you are standing on the spot where Moses received the Ten Commandments.

The oldest record of monastic life at Sinai comes from the travel journal written in Latin by a woman named Egeria about 381–384. She visited many places around the Holy Land and Mount Sinai, where, according to the Old Testament, Moses received the Ten Commandments from God.

The monastery was built by order of Emperor Justinian I (reigned 527–565), enclosing the Chapel of the Burning Bush (also known as “Saint Helen’s Chapel”) ordered to be built by Empress Consort Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, at the site where Moses is supposed to have seen the burning bush.The living bush on the grounds is purportedly the one seen by Moses.

Structurally the monastery’s king post truss is the oldest known surviving roof truss in the world. The site is sacred to Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

Bell Tower at Saint Catherine 's monastery
A mosque was created by converting an existing chapel during the Fatimid Caliphate (909–1171).which was in regular use until the era of the Mamluk Sultanate in the 13th century and is still in use today on special occasions. During the Ottoman Empire; the mosque was in desolate condition; it was restored in the early 20th century.
During the seventh century;  Christian anchorites of the Sinai were eliminated only the fortified monastery remained.

The monastery is still surrounded  by the huge fortifications that have preserved it.

Until the twentieth century;access was through a door high in the outer walls. From the time of the First Crusade; the presence of Crusaders in the Sinai until 1270 spurred the interest of European Christians and increased the number of intrepid pilgrims who visited the monastery.

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