Bell Tower and Minaret in the Dark

The bell tower and minaret, with the west end of the sixth century basilica visible beside them.

Monastery at Night

The monastery at night – the sixth century basilica, with the refectory behind, and kellia to the right. The buildings become more abstract in the dark.

The Nativity of Christ

Saint Ignatius the God-bearer was the Bishop of Antioch. He was martyred in Rome in the year 117. While being taken to Rome, bound in chains, he was met by the Bishop of Ephesus, and took the occasion to write an Epistle to the Ephesians. In it, he touches on the significance of the Nativity of Christ with profound observations.

And hidden from the prince of this world were the virginity of Mary and her child-bearing and likewise also the death of the Lord — three mysteries to be cried aloud — the which were wrought in the silence of God. How then were they made manifest to the ages? A star shone forth in the heaven above all the stars; and its light was unutterable, and its strangeness caused amazement; and all the rest of the constellations with the sun and moon formed themselves into a chorus about the star; but the star itself far outshone them all; and there was perplexity to know whence came this strange appearance which was so unlike them. From that time forward every sorcery and every spell was dissolved, the ignorance of wickedness vanished away, the ancient kingdom was pulled down, when God appeared in the likeness of man unto newness of everlasting life; and that which had been perfected in the counsels of God began to take effect. Thence all things were perturbed, because the abolishing of death was taken in hand.

Retreating Sunlight

The sunlight retreats in the late afternoon from the mountain to the east of the monastery with the Chapel of Saint Theodore.

Clouds at Sunset

Clouds glow pink for just a moment before the sun slips beneath the horizon at sunset.

Liturgical Scroll

Centuries ago, it was traditional for the priest to read the prayers for the Divine Liturgy from a scroll. A number of these have survived at Sinai. One of them is very worn on the outside, but the inside is still bright and fresh. The words said aloud by the priest are executed in gold, with elaborate opening initials at the beginning of each of the long prayers he reads to himself.

Sinai Sunrise Four

The sunlight shifts from rose to gold and then becomes increasingly bright at the beginning of a new day.

Saint Catherine 2022

On Wednesday morning, we made three hundred loaves of bread for the feast of Saint Catherine. Each one was stamped with a carved wooden seal depicting the saint. These were blessed during the vespers service that evening, and given out to the pilgrims who had come to join us for the feast.

The loaves rising in trays.

Heating the ancient stone and brick oven.

The loaves bake from the radiant heat given off by the stones and bricks. They are inserted and removed with a long wooden paddle.

The wooden stamp depicts Saint Catherine seated upon a throne, and wearing a crown. In her right hand she holds a cross, and in her left, the palm of victory. She is wearing the robe of a princess, embroidered with flowers and stars.

The Holy Table at night, lit only by candles. Many Gospels are ranged across the back of the Holy Table.

With the arrival of a new day, the bishop’s mitre is placed on the Holy Table, together with the dikirion and trikirion, the candlesticks with two and three candles each, with which the bishop will bless the faithful. This year, Metropolitan Nicholas of the diocese of Mesogaia in Greece celebrated the Divine Liturgy, together with many priests and deacons. It was my turn to be priest for the week. It was a joy to take part in the service, but I could not take as many photographs as I have in previous years.

Many chanters came from Greece. Among them was Evangelos, the assistant photographer for the Sinai Palimpsests Project. He brought his son, eight years old, who is already helping at the chanting stand.

Sinai Sunrise Three

At last the first rays of sunlight strike the peak of the holy mountain. The light grows stronger as the sun rises into the sky.

Sinai Sunrise Two

As the light grows stronger heralding the approach of another day, the holy mountain turns a beautiful rose colour that later shifts to blue.