Friday, April 10, 2015

Chapel of Our Lady of the Steward - Mount Sinai

I've noted previously that Jebel Musa, traditionally known as Mount Sinai, is chock full of religious symbolism and imagery. I've previously posted on the Church of the Holy Trinity on the summit, the summit mosque, and the Church of Elijah in Elijah's Basin. Another church, among many on the mountain, is the Chapel of Our Lady of the Steward. It is next to the Stairway of Repentance about halfway down Jebel Musa from the summit. It was built to honor the visit of the Virgin Mary to the steward of St. Catherine's Monastery in the sixth century. 
As we go down the Stairway of Repentance, the chapel is in front of us.
There are two different traditions that relate to the visit. The first relates to a time when the monastery was unable to get sufficient supplies for the monks at the monastery and many of the monks had decided to abandon the monastery. The steward climbed Mt. Sinai to pray for help. The Virgin Mary appeared to him, apparently on the summit, and promised that the monastery's storeroom would be filled. As the steward descended the mountain he saw a caravan of camels arriving with supplies for the monastery from Palestine. 
A zoomed in view from above.
The second tradition notes that the monastery was full of ants, flies and fleas and it was driving the monks crazy. All but two of the monks had left and those two had decided to leave after a final prayer on the summit. As they descended they saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary at the spot where the chapel is now located. She promised them that they would have what they needed to live and that the insects would not torment them any longer. After this, the monastery became free of insect pests. 
Looking back. Note the steps coming down the mountain to the right of the chapel. I tried taking a picture of the inside through the keyhole, but it did not turn out well. 


  1. I love the stories, and I love the name "Stairway of Repentance." I suppose if you went up and done that a few times a day you might want to abandon your wicked ways.

  2. More great stories of faith and prayerfulness. I've always kind of enjoyed the way Catholics give such power and prestige to Mary.