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Snow Clouds

Snow clouds over the foothills of Sinai bring a light dusting of snow.

Wreathed in Cloud

The granite peaks to the north of the monastery are wreathed in cloud.

Be Thou There

A detail of Joseph’s dream, from a twelfth century icon of the Nativity.

Now the angel having thus appeared, talks not with Mary, but with Joseph; and what says he? ‘Arise, and take the young Child and His mother.’ Here, he says not any more, ‘your wife’, but ‘His mother’. For after that the birth had taken place, and the suspicion was done away, and the husband appeased, thenceforth the angel talks openly, calling neither child nor wife his, but ‘take the young Child and His mother, and flee into Egypt’; and he mentions the cause of the flight: ‘For Herod’, says he, ‘will seek the young Child’s life’.

Joseph, when he had heard these things, was not offended, neither did he say, ‘The thing is hard to understand: Did you not say just now, that He should save His people? and now He saves not even Himself: but we must fly, and go far from home, and be a long time away: the facts are contrary to the promise’. Nay, none of these things does he say (for the man was faithful): neither is he curious about the time of his return; and this though the angel had put it indefinitely thus: ‘Be there until I tell you’. But nevertheless, not even at this did he shudder, but submits and obeys, undergoing all the trials with joy.

And this because God, who is full of love to man, did with these hardships mingle things pleasant also; which indeed is His way with regard to all the saints, making neither their dangers nor their refreshment continual, but weaving the life of all righteous men, out of both the one and the other.

from Saint John Chrysostom’s Eighth Homily on Matthew

Trapeza Bell Shadow

The mid-morning sun creates a shadow of the trapeza bell on the wall of the storeroom.

Trapeza Bell

A small bell adjoining the kitchen area is rung after the noon service to summon the fathers to the trapeza, the refectory.

All the Lamps

We only light all the lamps in the church on special feast days. The multi-coloured points of light create a beautiful glow.

Fifteen steps lead down to the Church of the Transfiguration. As you pass through the narthex, you can see nothing for a few moments but the blaze of the gold and crystal chandeliers which hang the length of the building. The church is loaded with the accumulated piety of centuries. Although the great caravans, which for so many years found their way to this lonely place, have vanished like a mirage, a token of the faith and the love they brought with them remains in the gilded gifts and the glowing ikons which shine everywhere in the dim half-light.

H V Morton, Through Lands of the Bible (1938)

Feast of Saint Catherine 2019

Many pilgrims came this year to celebrate the feast of Saint Catherine.

The blessing of the five loaves at the end of vespers.

The newly polished lamps were like multi-coloured stars.

The icon of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child on the iconostasion.

Metropolitan Maximos of Ioannina, and Metropolitan Joachim of Hellenoupolis, of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, celebrated the Divine Liturgy, together with fifteen priests and three deacons.

The shrine of Saint Catherine was adorned with embroideries.

At the conclusion of the Liturgy, we carried the relics of Saint Catherine in a procession around the church, commemorating the present members of the community, and those who have gone to their rest before us. Prayers were also said for all the pilgrims who had joined us for the holy feast.

Polished Lamps

All the lamps and candle stands are being polished for the feast of Saint Catherine, this coming Sunday.

Pigeons on the Bell Tower

Pigeons on the bell tower at sunrise.

Midnight Office

The icon of Christ at the beginning of the Midnight Office.