Visiting St. Catherine’s Monastery.
Mount Sinai (Gabal Moussa) is where God appeared to Moses and gave him the Ten Commandments. The followers of Islam, Judaism and Christianity all agree, this is the place it happened.
At its foot lies one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world, the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Saint Catherine. Tucked snugly away in the rocky, barren landscape of South Sinai, the maintenance of its priceless and virtually intact collection of icons and manuscripts can be explained primarily by the safety of its location.
The Famous Icons
Comprising the Saint Catherine complex are several justly famous icons – the main church, the chapel of the “burning bush,” the old refectory, the Fatimid mosque, and the library.
The Legend of the Monk.
Various stories have been passed down that attempt to explain Saint Catherine’s association with Sinai. One of the most popular relates that a Sinai monk had a vision of five centuries after her death. In it, her body was not only uncorrupted by death, but it became radiant with light as it was carried aloft by angels to a peak near Mount Sinai (later to become known as Mount Saint Catherine’s).
In the ninth century, when monks actually ascended the mountain, they found the body of the saint. It was intact and exuding a sweet-smelling myrrh that was periodically collected in small bottles, due to the fact that it was purported to have healing properties.
During the crusades, the martyrdom of Saint Catherine and the news of her body being found in Sinai spread like wildfire throughout Europe.