In a marvelous way, from early Christian times to the present day, prayer and spiritual dedication have existed at Sinai without interruption. This gives a special aura to the monastery, and justifies its significance as a destination for pilgrims second in importance only to Jerusalem and the Holy Land.

But the Sinai tradition is not confined to the prayer and spiritual dedication of the monks, nor does it constitute a spiritual Ark only for the Christian world. It has also won the respect of Jews and Moslems. The tradition of Sinai is founded on the early Christian heritage which looks for union with the Triune God, without at the same time losing the uniqueness of each individual person. Prayer and spiritual dedication are not aimed solely at the purification of the individual, but they invoke the blessing of all peoples everywhere. The Orthodox monastic tradition of Sinai has promoted the cultivation of personal freedom, morality, and love, without any self-seeking or hypocrisy, and thus regarded each individual as created in the image of God. It was in this desert that God manifested himself, and revealed his name.

The Sinai monastery ministers to all who come to the site as pilgrims, seeking spiritual consolation and the increase of faith. The heritage of the monastery is respected not only throughout the Christian world, but also throughout the Moslem world as well. Saint John Climacus, Abbot of Sinai in the seventh century, has recorded with spiritual insight all the steps leading to spiritual perfection. The venerable Symeon Pentaglossos, in the early eleventh century, took relics of Saint Catherine to the West, and has himself been venerated as a saint. Nilus, Anastasius, Anastasius, Philotheus, Hesychius, through their ascetical and theological writings, have shown the way to spiritual sanctification, while Gregory of Sinai became the great exponent of noetic prayer in Byzantium, and transmitted these traditions to the Slavic peoples.


The daily life at the Monastery of Sinai is a balance between times of private prayer, and common prayer, between times of activity, and times of solitude in one’s cell. Every opportunity is given to cultivate the life of prayer, and to participate in the Divine Liturgy and the feast days of the year, all celebrated in the sixth century basilica, which is adorned with icons and lamps, and crowned by the incomparable mosaic of the Transfiguration.

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The desert, bereft of material fruits, has ever shown itself rich in spiritual fruits. These spiritual fruits have flourished in the Sinai desert from the fourth century even unto our own day. It is said of the fourth century that the cities became a desert, and the desert was turned into a city. From that time, ascetics gathered at the site of the Burning Bush and the chapel dedicated to the All-holy Virgin Mary, established with the support of Saint Helen, withstanding both deprivations and destructions.

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The Sinai desert, rich in important shrines, has proved to be fruitful in its anchorites. Unceasing noetic prayer strengthens the anchorites’ spiritual struggle, while participation in common prayer and worship transforms the desert into a spiritual meadow.

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