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The Psalter of Cassiane

The famous Psalter of Cassiane has leaves that measure only 14 x 8.5 centimetres (5 1/2 by 3 3/8 inches). In the fourteenth century, the Nun Cassiane was able to write the entire 151 Psalms of the Septuagint text on only six leaves. She wrote two columns per page. Each column measures only 38 millimetres (1 1/2 inches) in width.

This photograph shows the entire Psalm 59 and the first verse of Psalm 60, ‘Hearken, O God, unto my supplication; attend unto my prayer.’ She took advantage of standard scribal abbreviations, but every accent and every iota subscript is in place. It is an astonishing feat of writing at the smallest possible size.

In the nineteenth century, the Psalter of Cassiane was kept in a side chapel of the monastery basilica and shown to visitors. In 1836, John Lloyd Stephens, from New York city, visited Sinai. He wrote, ‘In one of the chapels are a copy of the Evangelists, written in letters of gold by the Emperor Theodosius, and portraits of the four evangelists and the twelve apostles, and all the psalms of David, written in an inconceivably small space by a young virgin who came out and died in the desert.’

John Lloyd Stephens, Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea, and the Holy Land, first published in 1837.

Liturgy at the Peak of Sinai

Every year, we celebrate the Divine Liturgy at the peak of Mount Sinai on the day after Pentecost, the Monday of the Holy Spirit. This year, we were joined by pilgrims from Greece and Russia. We made the ascent in the night, and began the Liturgy at 4:00 AM.

The Holy Table in the apse of the small chapel.

The lamp over the Holy Table, with frescoes on the wall depicting the Apostles.

The iconostasion of the chapel.

The Holy Table from the nave.

By the time we began our descent, the sun was rising into the sky.

The mountain peaks receding into the distance.

Icon by Candle Light

In the kelli at Saint Panteleimon’s, a candle shines before an icon print in the silence of the desert.

Saint Panteleimon’s in Spring

The Chapel of Saint Panteleimon in the springtime, with a small almond tree in bloom.

Distant Landscape

A photograph taken from much higher up in the mountains. The Chapel of Saint John the Forerunner is visible at the far left.

Weathered Granite Boulder

A granite boulder has been weathered by exposure to rain and winds and ice over the centuries.

View from Saint Anne’s

The view from the rock promontory at the Chapel of Saint Anne.

Reflecting Pool

Ὅτι ἐρράγη ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ὕδωρ καὶ φάραγξ ἐν γῇ διψώσῃ.

For water hath broken out in the desert, and a watercourse in a thirsty land. (Isaiah 35:6)

Some years ago, a small dam was constructed in the garden below the Chapel of Saint Anne, to catch the rainwater so that it would replenish the well. This spring, we had so much rain that the waters backed up behind the dam to form a reflecting pool.

Filled with Light

Νῦν πάντα πεπλήρωται φωτός, οὐρανός τε καὶ γῆ, καὶ τὰ καταχθόνια.

Now are all things filled with light; heaven and earth, and the nethermost regions of the earth.

Sunset with Clouds

Sunset with a light cloud cover from the Church of Saint Panteleimon.