And Santa Catherina
The Exodus out of Egypt led the Children of Israel across the Sinai Desert, where Moses had first encountered God’s presence in the Burning Bush. Mary traditions surround the mountains of Sinai, each associated with a different episode of the Bible.
Jebel Musa, at 7,500 feet (2270m), is generally identified as Mount Sinai itself, the peak Moses climbed to receive the Ten Commandments from God.
A path of 3,000 steps leads up to the summit of the mountain. In ages past, climbing these steps was the penitence given to pilgrims to achieve forgiveness – and serious sinners were sometimes even instructed to climb the mountain on their knees! On one’s feet it is a climb that takes about three hours, but it is one that is richly rewarded. On a clear day there is a spectacular view across the Gulf of Aqaba to the coast of Saudi Arabia.
On his experience of Mount Sinai, David Robert’s journal reads, “Near the top are small chapels, one covers the cave where Elijah was fed by the ravens and the other is dedicated to Elias and on the summit are two others; one where Moses received the tables of the law and the other belongs to the Mohamedans; immediately under it is pointed out the footmark of the camel that carried him from Mount Ararat to Mecca. The view from the top is the most sublime that can be imagined”.
Sitting more than 5,000 feet (1515m) above sea level, the Monastery of Santa Catherina – St.Catherine – is the most striking feature in the area of Mount Horeb. Built in the 6th century by the Fathers of Sinai, 5the monastery is dedicated to the martyr of Alexandria who died in 395.
Sinai Satellite Image
*There were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceedingly loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke there of ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. Exodus 19:16-20
This Greek Orthodox monastery, the smallest diocese in the world, holds one of the greatest collections of religious texts and paintings. Among its 4,500 priceless manuscripts the monastery claims possession of the “ Codex Sinaiticus”, believed to be the oldest translation of the Bible in the world, and over 2,000 ancient icons.
The highest peak in all Sinai is the Mountain of St. Catherine. At 8,650 feet (2620m) it is a good five-hour climb. Legend says that when St. Catherine was killed, her body was borne away by angels who brought it back to earth on the top of this mountain – five centuries later! A small chapel marks the spot at the mountain’s summit.
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