Uneasy holiness in the Sinai Desert

Our guest speaker Sara Maitland has written about the enduring search for peace and serenity in the Sinai desert and how the Orthodox monks of St Catherine’s Monastery have prevailed; it is the oldest continuously inhabited Christian monastery in the world and over the centuries this remote sanctuary has witnessed religious persecution, political turmoil and war.

“The desert monks have been there since at least … the late fourth century. At that point most of them lived as hermits in dispersed cells. Their situation became so dangerous and unpeaceful that the Byzantine emperor Justinian built them a fortress monastery in the mid-sixth century. Until the 20th century, the only way to get in or out was to be winched up the wall in a basket.

Inside the monastery walls is a mosque, its minaret visible from outside, and the monks treasure the Achtiname, a letter of protection from the Prophet himself.”

Read Sara’s full article The force of Silence, published by The Christian Century.


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A unique experience and a privilege to share the Bedouin’s way of life, for a short time.

Guest, Sinai Summits, April 2019

It was the most wonderful trip, so glad I took up this opportunity. All beautifully organised – well done.

Icons of St Catherine’s Guest November 2022

Enthralling and beyond my hopes, it was a deeply spiritual experience at many levels. I am still raving about it all to anyone who crosses my path!

Icons of St Catherine’s Guest November 2022

“The whole trip was AMAZING – thank you so much.”

Francis Burkitt, St Catherine tailor made, August 2017

We got more out of our adventure than we had ever hoped for, thanks to a country of huge diversity and historical interest and to a very special guide.

Cunningham family, Jordan, April 2017

So many thoughts about our wonderful trip to St Catherine’s; the fantastic warmth of welcome from the Egyptians, Fathers Justin and Nilus, and the unique history which we felt privileged to be given access to. In my book, how could one not enjoy and be inspired!

Julia Palmer, St Catherine’s Retreat, February 2017

“Huge thanks to all at Wind, Sand & Stars for an amazing trip. John’s passion for Ethiopia fires his erudition and he gave us more insights into the country, past and present, than we could ever have gained from local guides.”

Christine Dunmow, Exploring Ethiopia’s Orthodox History with John Binns 2016

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