The Monastery of St. Catherine is located at an altitude of about 4925 feet in the Wadi el-Deir at the foot of Gebel Musa. Tradition identifies this as the site where Moses tended the flocks of Jethro and saw the burning bush (Ex. 3:1-4:17). The Monastery was built near the middle of the sixth century A.D. during the reign of the emperor Justinian. It is dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria and is the oldest continuously inhabited monastery in the Christian world. Through the centuries many monks have lived there; today it houses fewer than a dozen Greek Orthodox monks. The monastery became a great center of over 3000 old manuscripts and over 2000 icons. Only the Vatican library has more manuscripts.
Here is a new photo of the Monastery that I made in January.
The bedouin who work at the Monastery are called Jabaliye (Arabic for People of the Mountain).
“According to their tradition they are descendants of Christian slaves who were brought here by Emperor Justinian from Wallachia, today Rumania [Romania], as builders of the monastery and later its guards. In the course of time, when Sinai came under strict Moslem rule they were compelled to embrace Islam” (Vilnay, The Guide to Israel, 564).
There is a mosque within the monastery walls.
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