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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.

Sunrise Panorama

A panoramic view of sunrise at the peak of Mount Sinai.

Δόξα σοι τῷ δείξαντι τὸ φῶς.
Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις Θεῷ, καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη, ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκία.

Glory to thee who hast shewed the light.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, among men good will.

The Chapel at the Peak

The chapel at the peak of Mount Sinai at sunrise.

Ancient Path

Centuries ago, large stones were put in place to mark the paths that wind through the Sinai plateau.

The First Arch Descending

The first arch on descending the Steps of Repentance in late afternoon.

The First Arch

On making the ascent by the ancient Steps of Repentance, pilgrims pass the Chapel of the Oikonomissa, and then climb to the first of two arches.

The arch is visible high above.

A view from the landing below the arch.

On the left, a faint inscription shows a hand with an extended index finger pointing to the Greek word OPOY, ‘of the mountain’, surmounted by a cross. A diagram below directs the pilgrim to pass through the arch and bear left.

Stone Dam

To the left, one can see the ruins of a stone dam built to retain the rainwater. This replenished the wells, and provided water for simple gardens on the high Sinai plateau.

Weathered Boulders

Erosion over many years has weathered massive granite boulders into gentle wave patterns.