The two ends of the Christian world are celebrating today two very important for each other feasts: in the West, Thanksgiving, which originates from the gratitude for a bountiful harvest, a gesture overarching religious boundaries; in the East, the name day of Saint Catherine, born a pagan in 4th century Alexandria, but illuminated intellectually about the goodness of the Christian faith and becoming a martyr for the love of Christ, thus venerated ever since in the renown monastery bearing her name on mount Sinai, in Egypt. Both events have become today more or less (or rather more than less?) good reasons for cozy gatherings and communal celebrations.
With this photo we commemorate the gathering that took place at another locality called Saint Catherine: the little plateau north of the site of Dibasha on Sai Island, where ustaz Maarouf decided to build his residence, a real treasury of the Nubian traditions on the island. It was him who wrote for the GNM the Nubian text for the trilingual sign welcoming the visitors approaching the Cathedral site of Medieval Sai.
The combination of the antiquities on the plateau of Dibasha and of the name chosen by ustaz Maarouf for his “territory” – in commemoration actually of his home in Egypt! – made us think in the first season when we were surveying the island that this was a site where we would locate an important monument of the medieval past of the island; and indeed: the area of Dibasha is undoubtedly one of the most promising for the understanding of the evolution of the local communities on Medieval Sai, since it preserves both buildings of interest and features on the ground indicating the presence of pottery kilns from the medieval period.
On the occasion of the coincidence that St Catherine’s day and Thanksgiving fall on the same day this year, we grasp the opportunity to thank all the colleagues and friends for the interest in this discovery: Simone, Vincent, Sami, ustaz Maarouf, and – last but not least – Sheikhadin, the guardian angel over the well-being of this magnificent place.
The Sinai monastery has been rightfully considered as one of the greatest sources of spirituality in the Orthodox world as well as a major source of inspiration for Christianity as practiced in Medieval Nubia.
Sai’s St Catherine has been today our own source of inspiration for thanking also the Catherines that are of importance in our own circle of life: XPONIA ΠOΛΛA ΚΑΙ ΚΑΛΑ!!!