The Monastery of St. Catherine is located in South Sinai, the second largest library in the world, and contains a handwritten version of the New Testament. The church, dating back to the sixth century, contains thousands of ancient books and manuscripts (more than 700 years old). The World Heritage Site of UNESCO was recently opened in South Sinai, with officials from Egypt and abroad.
The eastern side of the recently renovated library houses the world's second-largest collection of ancient manuscripts, with the Vatican Library in the first place, said Monk Damianos, archbishop of the monastery.
Tony Casamias, the Archbishop's adviser, said the library was now open to the public and scientists, adding that restoration work was still under way. The monastery contains works in different languages (Greek, Arabic, Syriac, Georgian, and Slavic), which include the ancient Bible, mostly Christian. There are also long hidden recipes for the "father of modern medicine" Hippocrates.
"The most valuable manuscript in the library is the 14th-century constitution or manuscript," says Rev. Justin, an American monk working in the monastery's library. The library also contains some old paintings, which are currently being displayed in the monastery museum.
In addition to reopening the old library, officials also opened the mosaic of the Transfiguration, located in the eastern dome of the great monastery church, covering about 46 square meters.
The sixth-century mosaic was designed at the request of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, who also requested the monastery's construction. It is reported that St. Catherine, where the monastery is located, has become a popular and attractive destination not only for pilgrims but also tourists from all over the world. The monastery is home to a few monks who practice daily religious rituals without changing for centuries.
Earlier this year, ancient works hidden under the holy books were unearthed in the monastery, using tomography technology. The researchers found a series of missing texts using a method that allows them to retrieve old documents, written long ago.