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Behind bell tower stands a mosque built by Bedouins 
during a time of Christian persecution in the middle ages

Guests wait to enter the church while the monastery's guestmaster (in beard and back hat) gives instruction to Bedouin workers who are carrying carpets 

For many centuries a pulley operated elevator was the 
only way to enter the walled fortress of St. Catherine Monastery (see box in photo above).


Monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai

Monks have lived in the Egyptian desert near Mount Sinai since the early 300s. In 330 AD Constantine's mother, the Empress Helena, built a church at the site of the burning bush. 
The emperor Justinian had a church and walled fortress built in 527. At present some 25 Greek Orthodox monks reside here. Many beautiful icons adorn the church, including a 6th century Icon of Christ the Teacher (left above).A rare bush next to  the monastery church is believed by the Monks of St. Catherine (see above photo far right) to be a shoot of the original burning bush which Moses saw.  A chapel on the right honors this spot as the place where God told Moses to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground.

View of monastery looking towards Mount Sinai (right)

See also | Mount Sinai | Sunrise at Mountain | "Ecce Homo" Group Pilgrimage

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(c) 2001, 2012 Don Schwager