NEW YORK – A fundraiser for the historic Saint Catherine Monastery of Mount Sinai took place on October 29 at the Greek restaurant Avra in Manhattan.
The Greek-born Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia welcomed the members of the Greek community who attended, among them His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America.
“We continue to raise money to complete our mission, which is the preservation of the relics and the strengthening of Saint Catherine. We want to protect the library of the Monastery and its contents, but also to digitize it in order to make the information available to the public,” Vice President of the American Associates of the Saint Catherine Foundation Peter Vlachos told The National Herald.
Video by TNH/Costas Bej
HRH Princess Katherine thanked the attendees, noting that their contribution is very important in the work undertaken by the organization.
Many prominent members of the Hellenic American community attended to strengthen support for the common goal.
Religious and Historical Monument
The history of the Holy Monastery of Saint Catherine in the Sinai region goes back several centuries and it is estimated that it was founded in 500 AD.
In addition to its value as a monument of world culture and religion, the monastery also maintains a highly valuable collection of icons and hagiographies, which are preserved there and are of global interest.
“The Monastery of Saint Catherine is the oldest, continuously functioning monastery of the Christian religion. It has operated from 500 AD, uninterrupted. It has this history and has gathered very important elements, documents, icons, manuscripts, over the centuries,” said Dimitri Dondos, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the UK Saint Catherine Foundation.
According to Mr. Dondos, “the collection of St. Catherine’s icons is the world’s largest and the collection of documents the largest after the Vatican.”
In the past, thousands visited Saint Catherine, but the conditions prevailing in the area have discouraged visitors, resulting in a dramatic decline in their numbers. But now there is a recovery, with hundreds of pilgrims eager to see the monastery’s treasures.
“The value of the Sinai Monastery is great in terms of icons, manuscripts, and history. This monastery has perhaps the oldest icons in existence. And this event has been going on for nearly 20 years, since I was Archbishop. And I believe that the exhibition of icons in the New York museum has helped,” Archbishop Demetrios told TNH, while the Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations, Ambassador Maria Theofili, noted the “deeper meaning” of the event.
“All the events of this nature are very important for the practical result, but also because they bring everyone together, all of Hellenism, to strive for a common purpose. This is the message of Hellenism, that it is united for the common goal whether it is for the support of a religious and historic monument or for charity,” Amb. Theofili told TNH.
Over $70,000 Raised
The auction for the support of the library at St. Catherine’s Monastery included three trips to luxurious resorts, one in Belgrade, Serbia, and the other two in Greece, Messinia and Mykonos, specifically. The attendees participated enthusiastically.
Bidding for special metal boxes followed. The heavy steel boxes, 2,187 manufactured in Greece, will be used to store and protect about 3,000 manuscripts.
The event proved a success with the amount raised through the auction reaching $70,000 and donations in special sealed envelopes yet to be counted and added to the total.