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#1 Warren Bensinger

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Posted 24 April 2005 - 07:27 PM

Does anyone know anything about St. Catharines monistary on Mt. Sinai? Is it hard to get to, or is it enacssesable? Where would one fly into to get the closest to it?

My patron Saint (St. Neilos) is supposed to have spent his time there in the 4th or 5th century.

Is it safe in that part of the world or just like anywhere else - you take your chances and hope for the best?

Thanks for the help.
warren
t.s.

#2 Byron Jack Gaist

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Posted 25 April 2005 - 09:32 AM

Dear Warren

A couple of friends of ours recently returned from a holiday at Sharm-el-sheikh, an Arab tourist resort. From there they had been on a day-trip to St Catherine's monastery. I gather it is regularly visited by pilgrims. I don't know about safety in the area, but if there are a lot of tourists and pilgrims, it is presumably as safe as anywhere else - but a travel agent or the U.S. embassy in Cairo might be able to tell you more. Hope this helps!

ICXC
Byron


#3 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 25 April 2005 - 01:12 PM

Some information is available here:

St. Catherine Monastery


#4 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 27 April 2005 - 02:35 AM

Here is a really good link.

http://www.metmuseum.../monastery.html


#5 Guest_nurse-aid

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Posted 25 April 2005 - 03:49 PM

For my Saint:

O purest stream you running fast, who’s able stop you, who can change your blast!
To forward only, run thought the night! Clean and fast, and yet observing dust!
But clean itself, as when it start, dirt left behind, because it moving fast!
Its cleaned itself by rubbing through the stones, go over, forward, dirt too heavy to stay long….
Run, run my stream, and never stop, let never even ones become a swamp…
Lets never stop, lets never sleep, move, move those stones, who wants you to be killed!
Move it with you, or left behind, it must be free of dirt, it must be light!
In order to be able running clear, in order being pure and useful, for… to heal!
For purpose of which pure water served, to satisfying those who's thirst!
Run, run my stream and never stop, run only forward, and never even ones become a swamp!


#6 Warren Bensinger

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Posted 27 April 2005 - 04:41 PM

Thank you all for the word of help.
w.
t.s.


#7 Guest_Elisabeth

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Posted 24 May 2005 - 08:16 PM

Dear Warren and others,

I may be a bit too late with this information about visiting the Monastery of St. Katherine...sorry!

I have visited The Monastery of St. Katherine five times between 1998-2002. Although my information is a few years out of date, I gather from recent travellers that not much has changed.

It is possible to stay at the monastery for about five nights. Women can stay in a nearby guest house outside the walls. You should arrange this in advance which can be done by email. Most of the monks speak Greek, but there is an English monk and an American monk organises the IT. There is no charge, but most people offer a donation and bring a present of something like sweets or cakes etc. What used to be the nearby monastery pilgrim hostel is now more like a hotel and run on a commercial basis. Here you can stay in twin bedded rooms with ensuite shower-room. This can also be booked by email. There is a courtyard with a cafe, a restaurant serving breakfast and evening meal (non-fasting) and a souvenir shop. In the village there are more shops, bank, tourist hotels and cheaper Bedouin hostels.

The monastery advised me to travel from Cairo. The Archbishop's office is in Cairo where there is a hostel for monastery pilgrims. It may be possible to travel with the monastery mini bus that takes mail and food to the monastery several times a week. Otherwise the local bus takes all day, but is cheap, air-conditioned and non-smoking. Also there are much faster private mini-buses which can be booked by phone. There is no schedule..they leave when the seats are full.

Nobody knows the exact risk of terrorist attack, but it has increased as tourism in Sinai has increased. The security police check entry into Sinai, have a 24 hour check point to the entry of the Wadi leading to the Monastery and The Holy Mountain, and are on guard at the Monastery during the day. At night the thick monastery doors are locked (women wanting to attend the morning services beginning at 3am can arrange for a monk to open the door). The women's guesthouse remains locked at all times and guests are given a key. I tend to think that if I feel called by God to make the pilgrimage, and if my Spiritual Father and the monks give their blessing, then its safer to go rather than stay at home!

What else? It is also possible to visit the women's monastery at Wadi Fieran (Pharan), and maybe join monks in a pilgrimage to the cave hermitage of St. John Climacus. There are Bedouin guides who can help with visits to other sites such as small chapels and hermitages. I find it a rather difficult place due to all the visitors (someone quoted a thousand a day), but a place that survives a variety of pressures as a true expression of Orthodox monasticism. The many Biblical and monastic associations in the stunning landscape makes every desert step a wonderful God-given pilgrimage! Please contact me for any further details- email addresses etc.

Christ is Risen!

Elisabeth


#8 Guest_Maximos Darnley

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Posted 25 May 2005 - 11:09 PM

Just adding a little to Elizabeth's very comprehensive account.

Security in the Sinai Peninsula is very tight, certainly along the main roads. When I was in the area recently it was common to pass through both police and military check points on the way from Cairo to St Catherine Monastery.

I found the daily tourist presence quite substantial, not overwhelming, but bigger than I'd expected.

Tourists are able to visit parts of the Monastery during the morning. At a certain point it is closed to all non-orthodox visitors after which there's an opportunity to venerate the relics of St Catherine.

I attended liturgy in the morning.

Since I was travelling with some non-Orthodox friends I stayed in the guesthouse that Elizabeth described. It was most comfortable.

The nearby township has various classes of accommodation. These seemed to range from the simple to what appeared to be about 4 star.

It is an unforgettable place. I now realise that I must return.

Several of the monks spoke English. I even discovered one, of Greek descent, who had lived in Australia quite close to my own house.

The icon collection is extraordinary.

After staying for 3 days at St Catherine Monastery, we set off across the peninsula to the Gulf of Agaba to a point where Saudi Arabia was very clearly visible before returning, via Wadi Watir, to Cairo.

Our group of six people used cars with drivers to complete the journey. I arranged this while in Alexandria. We travelled to Cairo, where we had pre-booked accommodation, before continuing on the the Monastery.

Truly He is Risen

Maximos


#9 Guest_Elisabeth

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Posted 26 May 2005 - 10:54 AM

Thanks Maximos for filling in my gaps!

I forgot to say that there is an excellent UK company Wind Sand & Stars who organise guided pilgrimages, group and individual visits. They support local Bedouin and environmental projects.

There is also a local airport.

I also met an international team who were restoring and digitising some of the ancient manuscripts, and through them visited the library and digital studio. It is possible to see some of the icons and rare treasures from the library in the museum inside the monastery. One document proclaims protection for the monastery by Mohammed who was given hospitality by the monks. There is a mosque inside the monastery.

This all sounds rather busy. One of my favourite memories is of sitting on a rock near the monastery at sunset in the silence of the desert.

I could natter about Sinai all day...I'd better stop!

Elisabeth


#10 Guest_Maximos Darnley

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Posted 26 May 2005 - 09:49 PM

Elisabeth,

Yes, the silence of the desert.

In Christ,

Maximos


#11 Mariola

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 09:35 PM

Dear All,

Does anybody have an e-mail address/fax or telephone number to reserve the accommodations at the guest house at St, Catherine’s Monastery?

Many thanks for your help,
Mariola

#12 Peter Farrington

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 09:39 PM

I fainted on Mt Sinai!

I had driven through the night with my bishop and some Coptic Orthodox from the Patriarchate in Cairo and not slept much, and then arrived in the dark to find that I was expected to ride a camel to the top.

When we got to the top just before dawn I guess I didn't appreciate how high up we were and I chased after my bishop who was striding out for the summit only to find that the sounds suddenly receded and everything went slooooow and I was out for the count.

I came to with the vision of a Coptic friend half preparing to give me the kiss of life or something.

Maybe I was just unfit, I don't know. But it is pretty high so take your time.

Peter

#13 Daniel Mackay

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Posted 11 April 2007 - 05:21 PM

Elisabeth,

Could you provide the email addresses for both contacting the bishop to receive his blessing to visit and in order to make the necessary arrangements for accomodations?

Thanks,
Daniel

#14 Antonios

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Posted 12 April 2007 - 03:29 PM

Hello everyone,

Christ is risen!!

I was wondering what my fellow members here in monachos think about the claims that the true Mt. Sinai may be located in Saudia Arabia. I have seen a documentary on the topic and some online articles, which present some compelling evidence. Has anyone any thoughts about this?

Indeed, He is risen!!
Antonios

#15 Ann Thurman

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Posted 01 September 2007 - 01:52 PM

Dear Elisabeth, I,too am planning to make a pilgrimage to St Katherines in Nov..Do you happen to have contact info. for the guesthouse? I am most appreciative. Blessings, Ann



Dear Warren and others,

I may be a bit too late with this information about visiting the Monastery of St. Katherine...sorry!

I have visited The Monastery of St. Katherine five times between 1998-2002. Although my information is a few years out of date, I gather from recent travellers that not much has changed.

It is possible to stay at the monastery for about five nights. Women can stay in a nearby guest house outside the walls. You should arrange this in advance which can be done by email. Most of the monks speak Greek, but there is an English monk and an American monk organises the IT. There is no charge, but most people offer a donation and bring a present of something like sweets or cakes etc. What used to be the nearby monastery pilgrim hostel is now more like a hotel and run on a commercial basis. Here you can stay in twin bedded rooms with ensuite shower-room. This can also be booked by email. There is a courtyard with a cafe, a restaurant serving breakfast and evening meal (non-fasting) and a souvenir shop. In the village there are more shops, bank, tourist hotels and cheaper Bedouin hostels.

The monastery advised me to travel from Cairo. The Archbishop's office is in Cairo where there is a hostel for monastery pilgrims. It may be possible to travel with the monastery mini bus that takes mail and food to the monastery several times a week. Otherwise the local bus takes all day, but is cheap, air-conditioned and non-smoking. Also there are much faster private mini-buses which can be booked by phone. There is no schedule..they leave when the seats are full.

Nobody knows the exact risk of terrorist attack, but it has increased as tourism in Sinai has increased. The security police check entry into Sinai, have a 24 hour check point to the entry of the Wadi leading to the Monastery and The Holy Mountain, and are on guard at the Monastery during the day. At night the thick monastery doors are locked (women wanting to attend the morning services beginning at 3am can arrange for a monk to open the door). The women's guesthouse remains locked at all times and guests are given a key. I tend to think that if I feel called by God to make the pilgrimage, and if my Spiritual Father and the monks give their blessing, then its safer to go rather than stay at home!

What else? It is also possible to visit the women's monastery at Wadi Fieran (Pharan), and maybe join monks in a pilgrimage to the cave hermitage of St. John Climacus. There are Bedouin guides who can help with visits to other sites such as small chapels and hermitages. I find it a rather difficult place due to all the visitors (someone quoted a thousand a day), but a place that survives a variety of pressures as a true expression of Orthodox monasticism. The many Biblical and monastic associations in the stunning landscape makes every desert step a wonderful God-given pilgrimage! Please contact me for any further details- email addresses etc.

Christ is Risen!

Elisabeth


Dear Mariola, I,too am looking for this information for an upcoming visit. Would you be so kind as to share any contact info. you may have received? Thank you and Blessings, Ann




Dear All,

Does anybody have an e-mail address/fax or telephone number to reserve the accommodations at the guest house at St, Catherine’s Monastery?

Many thanks for your help,
Mariola



#16 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 05:08 AM

Friends of ours returned a few months ago from a trip to St. Catherine monastery on Mt. Sinai.

The below are some things we were told that might help if anyone decides to visit.

Everything is arranged by the tourist agency. There is a long bus trip before you get there and one of the most vivid impressions made on our friends was the absolute aridity of the landscape. There is a lot of poverty in the area and our friends and the other people with them were upset that they hadn't been told this because they could have brought small gifts to give to the beggars. The children love sweets and kept asking for them. The monks in the monastery are very grateful for bottles of olive oil for the lamps and any other things they can use.

The monks give each visitor a small package filled with a herb that grows in this area. It is very good for diabetes. My friend's husband has diabetes and his sugar reading went way down.

They also told us that they were disappointed by the commercialization of the monastery. Stalls outside the walls selling cheap trinkets, etc.

I can't remember anything else but hope the above might help in some way.

One of my dreams is to visit Jerusalem and then St. Catherine.

Effie

#17 Nina

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 03:56 PM

Friends of ours returned a few months ago from a trip to St. Catherine monastery on Mt. Sinai.

The below are some things we were told that might help if anyone decides to visit.

Everything is arranged by the tourist agency. There is a long bus trip before you get there and one of the most vivid impressions made on our friends was the absolute aridity of the landscape. There is a lot of poverty in the area and our friends and the other people with them were upset that they hadn't been told this because they could have brought small gifts to give to the beggars. The children love sweets and kept asking for them. The monks in the monastery are very grateful for bottles of olive oil for the lamps and any other things they can use.

The monks give each visitor a small package filled with a herb that grows in this area. It is very good for diabetes. My friend's husband has diabetes and his sugar reading went way down.

They also told us that they were disappointed by the commercialization of the monastery. Stalls outside the walls selling cheap trinkets, etc.

I can't remember anything else but hope the above might help in some way.

One of my dreams is to visit Jerusalem and then St. Catherine.

Effie


Dear Effie,

Thank you for this information. My dream has always been to get married (crowning ceremony) at that monastery... but I do not think is doable.

#18 Dionysios DiGregorio

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 05:04 AM

Does anyone know anything about St. Catharines monistary on Mt. Sinai? Is it hard to get to, or is it enacssesable? Where would one fly into to get the closest to it?

My patron Saint (St. Neilos) is supposed to have spent his time there in the 4th or 5th century.

Is it safe in that part of the world or just like anywhere else - you take your chances and hope for the best?

Thanks for the help.
warren
t.s.


I too stayed there. We stayed at St. Catherines for about three or four days, with one (of many) memorable highlights of the trip being an early morning (I think we started at 2 or 3 AM if I recall correctly) hike up to the top of Mt. Sinaii. Some take camels, but many also hike. I assumed there was a charge to ride the camel so I hiked.

The monastery itself was absolutely beautiful and the view breath-taking, the icons, documents and museum was fascinating, the history and holiness almost palpable, an experience of a life time, but the main area that allows full public access reminded me of a Greyhound Bus Station (not quite that bad but pretty bad); in fact, it was because of that envirnment we left there and stayed at the Monastery at Wadi Feiran not too far from there. There it was quiet, they allowed us to use a small chapel and we did our hours there.

We too traveled by small mini-van from Cairo; stopping at a few other monasteries along the way: I believe we also stopped at Sharm El Sheik on the way but maybe it was when we returned to Cairo.

I can't really offer much except too little too late but will echo the comments made by everyone else; anyone who has the chance to go should by all means go; it's absolutely wonderful, I hope to go again someday, it's not inaccessable or difficult to get to at all. We traveled from Cairo. There are dangers I'm sure but I never felt unsafe. There's nothing I can say that hasn't been said, everyone has offered great advice. I'm not sure who to contact for more info but if I happen to come across any additional info I'll come back and post. Good luck!~ I hope you make it!! :o)

#19 Warren Bensinger

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Posted 12 October 2014 - 12:35 AM

I don't know if this is right or not, but I would like to re-instate this topic and bring it up to 2014 from the start in 2005.

 

So I say again, does anyone know what the situation is at St. Catharines monastery on Mt. Sinai?  I heard that the area was shut down.  Does anyone know what happened to the monastery and it's monks and the historic things that it held.

 

Thanks for the info.

w.



#20 Kosta

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Posted 12 October 2014 - 03:04 AM

Where did you hear that? Never came across anything saying that Archbishop Damianos or his brotherhood have been exiled. A quick Google search lists their phone number. The two official websites associated with the monastery seems to be still up and running.

I know in April some Egyptian general accused the monastery of being a threat to Egyptian national security but nothing came of it as far as I know.




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