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Tristram’s Grackle

A lone Tristram’s grackle on top of the bell tower

Low Lying Clouds

Low lying clouds over the mountains flanking the monastery

The Beginning of the Ascent

The beginning of the Steps of Repentance that lead to the very summit of Mount Sinai.

Καὶ εἰσῆλθε Μωυσῆς εἰς τὸ μέσον τῆς νεφέλης καὶ ἀνέβη εἰς τὸ ὄρος καὶ ἦν ἐκεῖ ἐν τῷ ὄρει τεσσαράκοντα ἡμέρας καὶ τεσσαράκοντα νύκτας.

And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights. (Exodus 24:18)

Morning After Rain

A gentle rain had fallen through the night. The morning light revealed low lying clouds over the mountains to either side of the monastery.


The first gleams of sunlight from behind the mountain

East Wall

The east wall of the monastery a few moments before sunrise

The Ladder 1590

The first printed edition in Greek of The Heavenly Ladder (Κλίμαξ τοῦ Παραδείσου) was a paraphrase into vernacular Greek made by the learned Maximos Margounios, Bishop of Cythera. It was printed in Venice in 1590 by Francesco Giuliani, and published by Manolis Glyzounis.

The extended title reads,

Ladder of Paradise, or Ascetical Admonitions, of our Father among the Saints John, Abbot of the Monks on Mount Sinai, in which every Christian is taught how it is necessary to govern himself, in order to ascend to the perfection of the monastic and Christian life, now first translated from the Greek language into the vernacular idiom for the benefit of Christians, by Maximos Margounios, humble Bishop of Cythera.

Saint Anthony’s

First sunlight on the Chapel of Saint Anthony

Christmas Hymn

Μυστήριον φρικῶδες ὁρῶ· Θεὸς γὰρ ὁ κατέχων δρακί, πᾶσαν κτίσιν, περιέχεται σαρκί, ἐν φάτνῃ τῶν ἀλόγων, καὶ ράκει σπαργανοῦται, ὁ σπαργανῶν ὁμίχλῃ θάλασσαν.

A dread mystery do I behold: for God who holds all creation in His hand is contained in the flesh in a manger of irrational beasts, and swathed in bands, He who swathes the sea in mist.

The Nativity of Christ

Detail of a Sinai icon painted in miniature scale in the first half of the twelfth century.

Ἀπεγράφετο ποτέ, σὺν τῷ πρεσβύτῃ Ἰωσήφ, ὡς ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυΐδ, ἐν Βηθλεὲμ ἡ Μαριάμ, κυοφοροῦσα τὴν ἄσπορον κυοφορίαν. Ἐπέστη δὲ καιρὸς ὁ τῆς γεννήσεως, καὶ τόπος ἦν οὐδεὶς τῷ καταλύματι· ἀλλ’ ὡς τερπνὸν παλάτιον, τὸ Σπήλαιον τῇ Βασιλίδι ἐδείκνυτο. Χριστὸς γεννᾶται, τὴν πρὶν πεσοῦσαν, ἀναστήσων εἰκόνα.

Once with Joseph the ancient, as of the seed of David, was Mary enrolded in Bethlehem, bearing in her womb her babe, not of seed; then came the time of her bringing forth; and there was no room in the inn: but as a delightsome palace for the Queen did the cave become. Christ is born, to raise the image that was formerly fallen.

Translated by J N W B Robertson, 1894