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Saint Catherine Monastery

The St. Catherine Monastery is considered one of the most important monasteries in the world, and it took its fame from its unique position as it is located in the pure spot in which the spirit of tolerance between religions embodied.

Emperor Justinian built the monastery to include the monks residing in the Sinai region of the Holy Mountain since the fourth century AD at the Holy Spot In which the Prophet of God Moses (peace be upon him) survived his Lord and received the plates of the law.

The monastery contains various facilities, including the main church (the Church of the Transfiguration), which contains the inflamed Blackberry Church and nine small side churches. The monastery also includes ten sub-churches, a colonial for the monks, and a dining room. And a wrist An olive grove, a service area, and a skull exhibition, in addition to the Fatimid Mosque, and a library containing 6 thousand manuscripts, including 600 in the Arabic language, in addition to the Greek, Ethiopian, Coptic, Armenian, and Syriac manuscripts, which are religious, historical, geographic, and philosophical manuscripts, the oldest of which dates back To the fourth century A.D., and the library also contains a number of Muslim caliphs to secure the people of the Book.

The monastery has great archaeological and historical value, as it was included in the World Cultural Heritage areas. It resembles the fortresses of the European Middle Ages, with its high granite wall, which ranges between 12 and 15 meters, and the thickness of its walls exceeds two meters. Inside the wall lies the “Great Church”, facing “the Church of the Blackberry”, and behind it is the “Well of Moses”, which supplies the complex with water. In contrast to the “Great Church” stands the “Mosque of the Ruler by the Command of God” the small one built by “Abu al-Mansur Anushtakin” – the prince of the Fatimid armies – with his ten-meter-tall white minaret, which contains a pulpit that is one of three complete wooden pulpits from the first Fatimid era.

The “Great Church” includes, among other things, the oldest icon of the Virgin Mary, as well as valuable gifts sent by kings and princes over the centuries, including pure silver chandeliers, pieces of art from various civilizations; Arab mosaics, Russian, Greek and Georgian icons and oil murals. The most important contents of the monastery is the manuscript library, which is one of the largest written collections in the world, and which is ranked second in importance after the Vatican Library, known for its priceless valuables.
Dr. Abd al-Rahim Rayhan said in his valuable study “Sinai Forum of Religions and Civilizations” that the library of the Monastery of St. Catherine contains about six thousand manuscripts, the oldest of which is the “Greek Torah” known as “Codex Senatikos”, which is an incomplete copy written in 331 “Aspius” by Caesarean Bishop .

The Monastery of Saint Catherine is located in South Sinai, Egypt, at the foot of Mount Catherine, near the mountain of our master Moses. It is said that it is the oldest monastery in the world. This monastery was built during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian the First between 548 AD and 565 AD, and it contains the remains of Saint Catherine, who lived in Alexandria. Today, it is considered a tourist attraction for tourists from all over the world. As for its administration, it belongs directly to the head of the monastery, in the sense that he is not subject to the authority of the patriarch or to a holy complex. Returning to the story shared by the ancients on this monastery, Saint Catherine was from a pagan aristocratic family – born in Alexandria in the year 194 AD. As for her name, she was “Zorsia”, and she was very educated and beautiful, as many wanted to marry her for her beauty. Catherine grew up in the love of Christ, and studied theology and philosophy at the hands of the greatest scholars. With the coming of Emperor Maximinus II to Alexandria, Catherine refused to submit to his persecution and idolatry and publicly accused him of offering her offerings. Emperor Maximinus, on his part, ordered 50 orators to persuade her, but after they met her and listened to her, they converted to Christianity. On November 25, 307 CE, the emperor ordered her beheading, so that after several centuries her remains would be found (some sources say after 3 centuries, while other sources say after 5 centuries). The event of the appearance of the body of the saint returns to the dream that one of the monks witnessed, as he saw a group of angels carrying their body, flying it and placing it on top of a mountain in Sinai. When the monk set out to the place he saw, he found the body as in his visions, and he carried it to the Church of Moses the Prophet. To be transferred later to the Transfiguration Church that Emperor Justinian built inside the monastery in the sixth century. Also, inside this monastery there is a Fatimid mosque called “Tawa”, which was built for him by batches and fortifications by order of “Napoleon Bonaparte” during the French campaign against Egypt. The monastery also contains one of the oldest libraries in the world, which is the second largest library after the Vatican Library  

Who is Saint Catherine?

“Catherine” is an Egyptian saint, not Greek, as they had anciently known, and she is the daughter of Costas, the head of one of the noble families in the Egyptian governorate of Alexandria. Catherine lived in Egypt during the reign of the Roman Emperor Maximianus, between the years 305 to 311 AD, and these were pagan days, but she believed in Christ, and converted to Christianity, prompting the emperor to issue orders to torture her until she retracted her faith.

According to historians, this torture did not affect her faith, which prompted the emperor to order the soldiers to behead her, and it is said that after several centuries after her murder, one of the Sinai monks saw in his dream that the angels carried the remains of her body to the top of a mountain near the monastery, and when the monks ascended there They found the remains, and they buried them there and named the mountain “Saint Catherine.”