More Almond Blossoms 2024

Almond Blossoms 2024

The almond trees at Sinai usually bloom during the first warm days in early February. They are heralds of spring, filling the air with their subtle fragrance.

Icon of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sinai

Detail of an icon of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sinai, from the thirteenth century. In the top register, Christ is seated upon a throne, holding the Gospel in his left hand, and blessing with his upraised right hand. The orb behind him is adorned with stars. The Virgin Mary and Saint John the Forerunner stand to either side, supplicating him. The Apostle Peter stands to the left, and the Apostle Paul to the right. In the far right is an icon of Saint John Climacus, and in the left corner, an icon of the Righteous Paul.

Then our holy father Paul raised his hands to heaven and said, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, thou who never diest, forget not thy servants, but remember our afflictions and our poverty. Strengthen us in this hour of tribulation and receive the sacrifice which we offer as well-pleasing unto thee.’ Thereupon, when we had all said ‘Amen’, there came a voice from the altar, which we all heard, saying, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ At this voice we were all struck with awe.

Holy Forty Martyrs of Sinai and Raithou

On January 14, we celebrate the memory of forty monks from Sinai who were killed by the Saracens, and forty monks from Raithou, on the coast of the Red Sea, who were killed by the Blemmyes, in the fourth century.

Detail of an icon of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Raithou, from the thirteenth century. In the top register, the Virgin Mary stands before a throne adorned with pearls and precious stones, her hands raised in intercession. The Christ Child is depicted in a superimposed nimbus. The Archangels Michael and Gabriel bow in veneration. To the left is Saint John Climacus, and to the right, Saint John of Damascus.

Sabas’ hope was slender, and he glorified God greatly for what had happened. As his wound was not very serious, he showed himself distressed that he had not been found worthy to share the death of the holy ones who were slain. He bewailed his lot and said, ‘Woe is me, wretched man that I am, that I was not found worthy to be reckoned in the number of the holy Fathers who were slain for Christ’s sake’. He spoke thus with tears, and prayed to God, saying, ‘Thou who art God alone, who hast loved mankind, I pray three, separate me not from the holy Fathers who were slain for thy name’s sake, but let the number of the Forty Martyrs be made complete through me, for thou knowest that I have believed in three, loved thee, and longed for thee from a child, sinful and unworthy though I am’. And when he had spoken thus with a wise and true mind, he gave up the ghost on the fourth day after all the holy men.

Second Timothy

Saint Paul’s Second Epistle to Timothy begins on folio 149 recto of Greek New Finds M120.

Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ κατ’ ἐπαγγελίαν ζωῆς τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ Τιμοθέῳ ἀγαπητῷ τέκνῳ χάρις ἔλεος εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

The epistle is set off with a border of intricate intertwined ribbons.

Theophany 2024

Σήμερον ὁ ἄδυτος ἥλιος ἀνέτειλε, καὶ ὁ κόσμος τῷ φωτὶ Κυρίου καταυγάζεται.

Today the Sun, which knows no setting, has arisen, and the world is illuminated with the light of the Lord.

All the lamps were lit over the reliquary of Saint Catherine.

A polycandelon holding many oil lamps.

A candelabra towards the back of the nave.

A special fountain in the narthex is used for the Great Blessing of Holy Water on the feast of Theophany. It is adorned with palm fronds, olive branches, and small citrus fruits.

The fountain is surmounted by an oil lamp resting on a silver dove. From the beak of the dove behind, drops of water fall into the first basin.

There are a series of basins, each one larger than the one above, and the water drips from one basin to another.

The water drips from the beaks of silver doves.

An inscription above the last basin gives the date 1783.

Philippians

Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians begins on folio 122 verso of Greek New Finds M120.

Παῦλος καὶ Τιμόθεος δοῦλοι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ πᾶσιν τοῖς ἁγίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Φιλίπποις σὺν ἐπισκόποις καὶ διακόνοις χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

The epistle is set off by a simple border of alternating stems and lobes.

Second Corinthians

Saint Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians begins on folio 93 recto of Sinai Greek New Finds M120.

Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ καὶ Τιμόθεος ὁ ἀδελφός τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ σὺν τοῖς ἁγίοις πᾶσιν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ· χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia: Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

All of the original text has been overwritten in a carbon ink.

The Nativity of Christ

Detail of an icon dated to circa 850-900 depicting the Nativity of Christ, the Presentation, the Ascension, and Pentecost. In the depiction of the Nativity of Christ, note that the manger is also a Holy Table.

Κοντάκιον. Ἦχος γ’. Αὐτόμελον.


Ἡ Παρθένος σήμερον, τὸν ὑπερούσιον τίκτει, καὶ ἡ γῆ τὸ Σπήλαιον, τῷ ἀπροσίτῳ προσάγει. Ἄγγελοι μετὰ Ποιμένων δοξολογοῦσι· Μάγοι δὲ, μετὰ ἀστέρος ὁδοιποροῦσι· δι᾽ ἡμᾶς γὰρ ἐγεννήθη, Παιδίον νέον, ὁ πρὸ αἰώνων Θεός.

The Virgin, to-day, bringeth forth the Super-substantial One, and the earth offereth the cave to the Unapproachable. Angels with shepherds glorify him; and the Magi journey with the star: for for us he is born a little Child, the God that is before the ages.

Translated by J N W B Robertson, 1894

First Corinthians

The Apostle Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians begins on folio 74 verso.

Παῦλος κλητὸς ἀπόστολος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ καὶ Σωσθένης ὁ ἀδελφός τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ ἡγιασμένοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ κλητοῖς ἁγίοις σὺν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἐπικαλουμένοις τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ αὐτῶν τε καὶ ἡμῶν· χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Parts of the original text, written in an iron gall ink that had become indistinct, were later overwritten in a carbon ink.