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The Tower of the South Wing

The tower of the south wing in the early morning sunlight.

A Few Moments

For a few moments, the ridge of mountains that lead over to the Chapel of Saints Galakteon and Episteme have passed into shadow, while the mountains behind still reflect the light of the setting sun.

Conclusion in Greek 401

At the conclusion of one homily, the scribe has carefully formed the text to make a cross, which contains these luminous words,

May we find to perfection the things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, which God hath prepared for them that love Him, to attain, all of us, to that which is now and shall be hereafter, by the grace and love for man of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, honour, and dominion, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

And the scribe has drawn out the ‘Amen’, connecting the letters with ornamented lines, and adding a leaf at either end, to form a decorative border.

Decorative Initials

Greek 401 is a manuscript of the Spiritual Homilies of Saint Theodore the Studite. Almost every homily begins with the words, Ἀδελφοὶ καὶ Πατέρες, ‘Brothers and Fathers’. Throughout the manuscript, the opening decorative initial is an alpha. Some of these are of a knotted interlace filled with yellow, red, and blue pigment.

In others, the scribe created an alpha by depicting a bird grasping a column.


In others, the alpha is formed by intertwined serpents.

Inevitably, the bird and the snakes face off. In this initial, the bird has sprouted teeth and is attacking the serpent.

But this is not always the case. The serpent also has his day.

Scholars feel that the manuscript was written in Southern Italy, most probably Rossano.

Sinai Greek 401

Greek 401 is a manuscript of the Spiritual Homilies of Saint Theodore the Studite (759-826). Under his wise direction, the Studite monastery in Constantinople became the model of piety and devotion. The colophon on 205 verso reads,

Christ, grant me grace, for the sake of my labours, by delivering me from my many offences, Peter who wrote this divine book of Studites, our Father among the Saints, on the commission of Abba and Presbyter Leontios, who procured it by his longing for the kingdom of heaven.

This book was written in the month of August, the eighteenth, Wednesday, the ninth hour. The fourteenth cycle of the sun, the first of the moon, the year 6594, the ninth indiction. The end. Glory be to Thee.

Someone has done the math and added in pencil that the date corresponds to AD 1086.

Late Afternoon

The chapel of Saint Anne in the late afternoon, when shadows begin to lengthen.

Saint Anne 2022

We were again able to celebrate the Divine Liturgy at the chapel of Saint Anne on her feast day. I spent the night there, and took these photographs the following morning.

Sunrise through the window of the chapel.

The first ray of sunlight is perfectly aligned with the back corner of the chapel. It took me a moment to get my camera positioned, by which time the sunlight had moved slightly to the right. The chapel was clearly constructed by someone who was sensitive to the alignment of the sun on the feast of Saint Anne.

The ray of sunlight becomes palpable in the clouds of incense.

Prophet Elijah 2022

We climbed to the chapel of the Prophet Elijah to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on his feast day.

The first rays of the sun were reflected on the mountains to the west of the monastery as we made our ascent.

The holy table before the cave of the Prophet Elijah.

The proskomede, the Holy Gifts prepared for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.

On Saturday

The first section of Sinai Greek 690 has a beautiful border and the following rubric,

Οἱ κατὰ σάββατον λεγόμενοι κατ᾿ ἦχον κανόνες τοῦ ἁγίου τῆς μονής, ἤως τοῦ ἁγίου προφήτου Μωϋσέως.

The canons known as on Saturday by tone of the saint of the monastery, that is, of the holy Prophet Moses.

There follow eight different canons in honour of the holy Prophet Moses, one in each of the eight tones. These are to be chanted in succession on each Saturday, in the tone appointed for that particular week.

There was a blank space after the canon in Plagal of First Tone. Father Joachim, the scribe, filled it with a calligraphic flourish.

Τέλος τοῦ πλαγίου τοῦ πρώτου ἦχου. The end of Plagal of First Tone.

Sinai Greek 690

Sinai Greek 690 is a gem. It is a small manuscript, measuring 21.5 centimetres by 15.8 centimetres. It is two centimetres thick. Seven blank leaves precede the first page of text. It is written in a beautiful hand, leaving generous margins. Decorative initials were executed with vermilion and gold. The manuscript contains the service to Saint Catherine. After the Sixth Ode, the Synaxarion lists the feast of that day, and gives a synopsis of the life of the saint.

In this month, on the twenty-fifth, [we celebrate] the contest of the Holy Great Martyr Catherine.

She was from the city of Alexandria, the daughter of a certain king, Constas by name. She was exceedingly fair, and inimitable in beauty, very much in the prime of life, and refined in bodily aspect. She was eighteen years of age. She had been trained extremely well in all Greek learning: Homer, Virgil the greatest poet of the Romans, Asclepius, Hippocrates, and Galen the physicians, Aristotle and Plato, Philistion and Eusebius the philosophers, Jannes and Jambres the greatest magicians, Dionysius, and the Sibyl, and as much art of speaking as was to be found in the world. Not only that, but every word of every language had she learned, which elicited the admiration not only of those who saw her, but also of those who heard of her reputation and learning. Bearing the trial of many tortures under the Emperor Maxentius on account of her confession for Christ, her head was cut off, and she received the crown of martyrdom from the judge of the contest, Christ our true God.

The last folio has a colophon, added in a different hand.

The present small book was written by the Most Reverend Hieromonk and Spiritual Confessor, our Father Joachim Bartzaki, from Crete, in the year 7156, in the month of September, at Sinai the Holy Mountain, for the place itself.

Someone has added in pencil that the year 7156 from Creation corresponds to the year AD 1647.