Monday, November 15, 2010

Nov 13th–The "Mountain of Moses"

Early the next morning we had breakfast in St. Catherine's City, then loaded the bus for the short trip to St. Catherine's Monastery at Sinai. We parked at the lower parking lot and walked the 15 minutes it takes to get to the Monastery. For those who wanted there was the option of a Taxi or a camel ride up to the monastery itself. Today we all chose to walk. The Monastery quickly came into view.

St. Catherine's Monastery is an ancient Eastern Orthodox Monastery, The monks here are an independent group with their own Archbishop and they enjoy special staus within the Orthodox community. We entered through the main gate and through a small entrance we were allowed into the great church, but were not allowed to take pictures inside.

The Monastery courtyard was crowded with early morning pilgrims.

We spent a considerable amount of time here, walking the grounds, praying and hearing the story of the Monastery and the mountain. The monastery is built around the "burning bush" of Moses which is in the main courtyard.

From a distance the most prominant feature of the Monastery is the tower, seen here from the courtyard.

Back outside, many pilgrims climbed the rocky hill opposite the Monastery to get a better view.

The courtyard was crowded with many pilgrims and there are two Gift Shops at the Monastery that have an amazing assortment of Icons and other religious items for sale. This view is seen from the opposing hillside.

Somewhat reluctantly we walked back to the bus to move on toward Cairo.

With each step my admiration and appreciation of the saints who have gone before us grows. Sinai seems like such a desolate place, yet the monks of Sinai have lived here and welcomed pilgrims for 1400 years–an astounding thought!

It is a six hour drive from the St. Catherine's to capital city of Egypt. The bus was generally quiet as we considered the places we have been and the things we will yet see–Cairo awaits.

–posted by Greg Smithhisler, Liturgist

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