St. Catherine's Monastery
St. Catherine's Monastery

The monastery of St. Catherine was founded in 527 AD by the emperor Justinian on the rumored site of the "Burning Bush".  It is named for St. Catherine, an early Christian martyr who died in 307, and whose body was supposed to have been found roughly five hundred years later on the top of the neighboring mountain bearing her name.  Towering above the monastery are two peaks, that of St. Catherine and the slightly smaller Mt. Sinai.  It is the oldest working monastery in the world, having survived many centuries of rather precarious existance in the midst of the Islamic world.  A firman from Mohammed himself protected the monastery for many years, and the addition of a mosque in the 10th century further guaranteed its protection.  The monastery belongs now to the Greek Orthodox church, and almost all of the monks are Greek.  It has the largest collection of Christian manuscripts in the world after the Vatican, including one of the oldest Bibles.  The collection of icons dating back to the 500s is unparalleled.  Also to be found within its walls are the "Burning Bush" itself and, some 50 feet away, Moses' well.  


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