St. Catherine`s Monastery

About place: St. Catherine`s Monastery

St. Catherine's Monastery is 30 kilometers to the north of Dahab and 200 kilometers of Sharm el-Sheikh. This is a strong citadel with walls reaching the height of 15 m, built by the Byzantine emperor Justunian in VI century for defense against the attacks of nomads.

Catherine lived in 287-305. Having born in a rich family, she was very soon baptized. According to the legend, Jesus Christ appeared to her and gave her a ring, having called her his bride. Many times Catherine tried to convert the emperor Maximinus to Christianity but, ultimately, was executed by him.

According to the legend, after her death the angels brought her body up to the highest mountain in Sinai, which now bears her name. In its immediate vicinity the Moses' Mountain is located, where the latter received from the God the tablets with 10 commandments, and the monastery itself was built on the site where the God talked with Moses from the Burning Bush.

In 337 Helen, the mother of the emperor Constantine, had a chapel built above the Burning Bush, but already in 530 the emperor Justinian ordered to built there a big monastery where the relics of St. Catherine was transferred.

Now the monastery is considered a separate (the smallest one) eparchy in the Orthodox Church, headed by the Archbishop of Sinai. The Cathedral of Transfiguration is the main temple of the monastery. It was built in the form of three-nave basilica in the time of Justu-nian in VI century. It is just to that period that most part of the cathedral dates back, with the Chapel of the Burning Bush, which was built by St. Helene two centuries earlier, being the integral part of the cathedral located above its Altar.

Apart from the Chapel of the Burning Bush, the monastery has over a dozen of other cha-pels and a small library, the value of which is comparable with that of Vatican Library.

The monastery is open 5 times a week from 9 to 12. Generally, they visit it after having met the dawn on the Moses' Mountain. Tourists are allowed only to the forechurch and the small court of the Burning Bush. The religious pilgrims, who come there in groups, can see signif-icant part of the monastery, and even kiss the relics of St. Catherine. As a token of the visit to the monastery, the monks give the women from the pilgrim groups the ring of St. Cathe-rine, which is the replica of the one Catherine received from Jesus Christ.

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