Virtual Gallery of Icons

A few treasures from the monastery...

The Art of St. Catherine

Living amidst the isolation of the Sinai desert, St. Catherine's monks had plenty of time to develop their artistic talents, and no objects express their skill better than the thousands of icons they created through the centuries. For the monks, creating icons and mosaics was not only a pastime, but an integral part of expressing their devotion to God. Their efforts to this end were both beautiful and extraordinarily prolific.

Most of the icons native to St. Catherine were created between the tenth and fifteenth centuries, following a style which has come to be called the "Sinaitic School" of art. Rather than striving for realism, the imagery of this time period typically reflects a strong interest in the power of Sinai's biblical landscape. The school became so influential that many European artists incorporated elements of Sinai's mountainous terrain into their own compositions.

As the monastery's influence spread throughout the Christian world, it's art collection was supplemented by generous offerings from abroad. Russian czars made significant donations, as did leaders from Crete, Byzantium, and Palestine. The result today is a collection of icons second in size only to the Vatican's.

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