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Sacrifice of Isaac

A fresco in the chapel at the peak depicting the Sacrifice of Isaac.

And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. (Genesis 22:7-8)

Apse Fresco

The fresco in the apse depicts the Virgin Mary of the Burning Bush, with the Prophet Moses removing his shoes on the left, and receiving the Tablets of the Law on the right. Below are icons of the twelve Apostles.

Στάμνον σε χρυσῆν, καὶ πλάκα καὶ τράπεζαν, προδιεγράψατο, Μωϋσῆς Πανάμωμε, καὶ βάτον Κόρη ὅλην πυράφλεκτον· ὧν νῦν ἡμεῖς τὴν ἔκβασιν πιστῶς θεώμενοι, Θεοτόκον εὐσεβῶς δοξάζομεν, ὡς Θεὸν τῶν ἁπάντων γεννήσασα.

Moses wrote of thee beforehand as the golden vessel and the tablets and the table, O All-blameless one, and as the bush wholly unconsumed by fire, O Maiden; wherefore now, beholding the fulfilment with faith, we piously glorify the Theotokos who gave birth to the God of all.

Both now of the second canon of the Ninth Ode of Matins in the service to Moses the God-seer, Περιγραφὴ τοῦ Θεοβαδίστου Ὄρους Σινᾶ (Venice: Nicholas Glykis, 1817), p. 52.

Deisis in the Chapel at the Peak

Above the doorway that leads from the narthex into the nave is a depiction of the Deisis. Christ is in the centre, holding the Gospel, and blessing with his right hand. The Virgin Mary, to his right, and Saint John the Baptist, to his left, raise their hands, interceding on behalf of the world.

The text of the Gospel reads, Ὁ ἔχων τάς ἐντολάς μου καὶ τηρῶν αὐτὰς ἐκεῖνός ἐστιν ὁ ἀγαπῶν με. ‘He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.’ (John 14:21)

The inscription below reads, ‘When Porphyrios the Third was Archbishop, and the members of the Holy Council were Archimandrite and Dikaios Theokletos, Skevophylax Ioakeim, Oikonomos Makarios, and Moses Monk, this sacred temple was raised from its foundations in the year of our salvation 1934, and painted in 1937, August. Painted by the Monk Mefody Zografski.’

Spectrum of Colours

A crystal from the candelabra casts a spectrum of colours on the proskynetarion with an icon of the Prophet Moses.

Inside the Chapel at the Peak

A beautiful candelabra of blue and clear glass hangs in the middle of the chapel at the peak of Mount Sinai.

Saint Anne 2017

The sun rose as we were making the climb to the Chapel of Saint Anne on her feast day.

A beam of sunlight entered through the tiny window of this most beautiful little chapel.

Prophet Elias 2017

It was a joy to celebrate the Divine Liturgy once again at the cave of the Prophet Elias on his feast day.

From the Pilgrimage of Egeria:

Having then fulfilled all the desire with which we had hastened to ascend, we began our descent from the summit of the mount of God which we had ascended to another mountain joined to it, which is called Horeb, where there is a church. This is that Horeb where was holy Elijah the prophet, when he fled from the face of Ahab the king, and where God spake to him and said: What doest thou here Elijah? as it is written in the books of the Kings. The cave where holy Elijah lay hid is shown to this day before the door of the church which is there. A stone altar also is shown which holy Elijah raised to make an offering to God; thus the holy men deigned to show us each place. There, too, we made the oblation, with very earnest prayer, and also read the passage from the book of the Kings; for it was our special custom that, when we had arrived at those places which I had desired to visit, the appropriate passage from the book should always be read.

Lintel Over the Door

The lintel over the door to the chapel has a shallow relief carving of two doves supporting a central medallion with the cross.

Chapel at Midday

The chapel at the peak of Mount Sinai, photographed at midday. The present chapel preserves the core of the much larger sixth century church, built at the site of the fourth century chapel.

From the Pilgrimage of Egeria, who visited Sinai around the year 383:

By this way, then, at the bidding of Christ our God, and helped by the prayers of the holy men who accompanied us, we arrived, at the fourth hour, at the summit of Sinai, the holy mountain of God, where the law was given, that is, at the place where the Glory of the Lord descended on the day when the mountain smoked. Thus the toil was great, for I had to go up on foot, the ascent being impossible in the saddle, and yet I did not feel the toil, on the side of the ascent, I say, I did not feel the toil, because I realized that the desire which I had was being fulfilled at God’s bidding. In that place there is now a church, not great in size, for the place itself, that is the summit of the mountain, is not very great; nevertheless, the church itself is great in grace. When, therefore, at God’s bidding, we had arrived at the summit, and had reached the door of the church, lo, the priest who was appointed to the church came from his cell and met us, a hale old man, a monk from early life, and an ascetic, as they say here, in short one worthy to be in that place; the other priests also met us, together with all the monks who dwelt on the mountain, that is, such as were not hindered by age or infirmity. No one, however, dwells on the very summit of the central mountain; there is nothing there excepting only the church and the cave where holy Moses was. When the whole passage from the book of Moses had been read in that place, and when the oblation had been duly made, at which we communicated, and as we were coming out of the church, the priests of the place gave us eulogiae that is, of fruits which grow on the mountain. For although the holy mountain Sinai is rocky throughout, so that it has not even a shrub on it, yet down below, near the foot of the mountains, around either the central height or those which encircle it, there is a little plot of ground where the holy monks diligently plant little trees and orchards, and set up oratories with cells near to them, so that they may gather fruits which they have evidently cultivated with their own hands from the soil of the very mountain itself.

Sunrise From the Peak

Sunrise from the peak of Mount Sinai.