The Holy Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai has been characterized by scholars as the most celebrated of the world's monasteries, while in the conscience of the Orthodox peoples it was and remains the most revered and longed-for focus of pilgrimage after the Holy Places. In the course of the Monastery's 15 centuries of uninterrupted life, and despite the great difficulties faced in the midst of alien peoples, not only has St. Catherine's managed to maintain the Orthodox faith intact and provide the Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate with pre-eminent figures of Asceticism, but it also secured special privileges from the Prophet Mohammed and, at a later date, from popes of Rome and leaders of both the East and West. The Monastery thus proved itself a great spiritual hearth of Hellenism, rendering the most distinguished service to monasticism, Orthodoxy, the Church and the Greek people. At the same time, the Monastery acquired international fame as a unique centre of Byzantine icon painting. Here, the specialist may study the uninterrupted development of this art from the 6th century up till the present day.
Furthermore, the Monastery also developed its own Sinai tic school of icon painting with its own stylistic techniques and 'Sinaitic' subject matter. Examples of this school's work are encountered not only in icons but also in illuminated manuscripts of the calligraphic and chrysographic workshop of the Monastery's world-famous Library. The Monastery of Sinai, moreover, surrounded as it is by the fortification walls built by its founder, the Emperor Justinian, and isolated in the inhospitable desert, was through the centuries a secure haven for invaluable works of art sent from all corners of the Earth as devout offerings of the faithful. Byzantine, Post-Byzantine and Modern Greek works representing all types of ecclesiastical art make up the artistic treasures of the Monastery. The Monastery's treasures, which the Sinai fathers - a veritable vanguard of Greek Orthodox tradition - keep with constant care and devotion, were entrusted to me by the Holy Monastery to present for the first time in this lavish tome, published in Greek, English, German and French. I consequently feel especially honoured; but also a great sense of responsibility.
This work, "Sinai - Treasures of the Monastery", proudly presented here to the public by 'Ekdotike Athenon', contains the following chapters, each fully developed and accompanied by a wealth of illustrative material: Architecture, Mosaics and Wall Paintings, Icons, Church Gold Embroideries, Church Metalwork, Illuminated Manuscripts, and the Library and the Archive. The preparation of this tome was undertaken by university professors and other scholars, and specialists involved in the artistic preparation who all worked with devotion, zeal and respect with the aim of presenting these treasures in the most authoritative manner. As publisher, I am, together with all those who strove for the realization of this undertaking, greatly honoured to have participated in the promotion of those treasures of Byzantine art that have been sheltered for centuries in that radiant ark of Orthodoxy and Hellenism, the Monastery of St. Catherine at Sinai.