Petrova Yulia

“Pilgrimage to Sinai, the Mountain of Lord” as an example of melkite itinerary

Petrova Yulia (2018) "“Pilgrimage to Sinai, the Mountain of Lord” as an example of melkite itinerary ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia III : Filologiia, 2018, vol. 57, pp. 89-101 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturIII201857.89-101


This article examines a little-known account of pilgrimage to Sinai and Jerusalem written in Arabic in the 1630s, preserved as part of the manuscript miscellany Balamand 181 (late 17th century) in the collection of manuscripts of Balamand monastery (Lebanon). This unpublished text may be considered the earliest extant monument of the original pilgrimage literature created by Orthodox Arabs. The author of the text is a clergyman from Damascus whose name is unknown. Colophones in some Arabic manuscripts from the collection of St. Catherine’s monastery in Sinai indicate that the text might be attributed to priest Yūḥannā ‘Uwaisāt. The journey described embraces the period from 29th September 1635 to 3rd May 1636. The major destination for the Near Eastern Christian pilgrims was St. Catherine’s monastery in Sinai and the holy places located around. The pilgrims’ stay there is dated from 26 January to 8 February 1636. The text contains a relatively detailed description of the four-day route of the pilgrimage in the environs of Mount Sinai. The culmination of the pilgrimage was the veneration of the relics of St. Catherine.The manuscript gives also a brief description of staying in Jerusalem for Easter in 1636, but, as one can see, the memories of the distant and hardly accessible Sinai eclipse for the Syrian pilgrim the impressions of the neighbouring Palestine. A comparison of the narrative of the Syrian pilgrim with records of European travellers to holy plaecs of the East reveal a somewhat diff erent placing of the emphasis with regard to Near Eastern realia. The anonymous text of the Antiochian pilgrim of the 17th century is of considerable interest as an example of itineraria and conveys the experiences of the author, the Orthodox citizen of the Ottoman Empire.


Arab Christian manuscripts, pilgrimage, itineraria, Orthodox Arabs, Sinai, St. Catherine’s monastery in Sinai, Egypt, Jerusalem, Palestine, Syria


  1. ‘Aṭīya ‘A. S. (1970) Al-fahāris at-taḥlīliyya li-mahṭūṭāt Ṭūr Sīnā al-‘arabiyya. Al-ğuz’ al-’awwal, Alexandria.
  2. Fedorova I. (2014) “«Povest’ o sviatoi gore Sinaiskoi» — maloizvestnyi pamiatnik vostochnoslavianskoi palomnicheskoi literatury” [“«Narrative on the Saint Mountain of Sinai», the Little-Known Example of East-Slavonic Pilgrimage Literature”]. Trudy otdela drevnerusskoi literatury. St. Petersburg, vol. 62, pp. 450–479 (in Russian).
  3. Kirillina S. (2010)“Ocharovannye stranniki”: arabo-osmanskii mir glazami rossiiskikh palomnikov XVI–XVIII stoletii [“Charmed Travelers”: the Arab-Ottoman World in the Eyes of Russian Pilgrims of the 16th–18th Centuries”]. Moscow (in Russian).
  4. Krachkovskii I. (1957) “Arabskaia geografi cheskaia literatura”, in Akad. I. Iu. Krachkovskii. Izbrannye sochineniia [Academician I. Iu. Krachkovskii. Selected Works]. Vol. 4. Moscow; Leningrad (in Russian).
  5. Nasrallah J. Histoire du mouvement littéraire dans l’Église melchite du Ve au XXe siècle, III, Tome 2, Louvain; Paris, 1981.
  6. Nasrallah J. Histoire du mouvement littéraire dans l’Église melchite du Ve au XXe siècle, IV, Tome 1, Louvain; Paris, 1979.
  7. Panchenko K. (2012) Blizhnevostochnoe pravoslavie pod osmanskim vladychestvom. Pervye tri stoletiia [The Middle Eastern Greek Orthodox Community under the Ottoman Domination. The First Three Centuries]. Moscow (in Russian).
  8. Panchenko K. et al. (2008) “Ekateriny Velikomuchenitsy monastyr’ na Sinae” [“Catherine’s the Great Martyr Monastery in Sinai”], in Pravoslavnaia entsiklopediia [Orthodox Encyclopaedia]. Vol. 18. Moscow, рp. 170–214. (in Russian).
  9. Panchenko K. (2016) “K istorii Antiokhiiskoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi kon. XVII v.: Patriarshii prestol i klanovaia solidarnost” [“To the History of the Antiochian Orthodox Church of late 17th Century: Patriarchal Throne and Clan Solidarity”]. Vestnik tserkovnoi istorii, vols. 1–2 (41–42), pp. 159–196 (in Russian).
  10. Panchenko K. A. (2012) “Mitropolity i eparkhii pravoslavnoi Antiokhiiskoi tserkvi v opisanii patriarkha Makariia ІІІ az-Za‘īma (1665 g.). Tekst i kommentarii” [“Metropolitans and Dioceses of the Orthodox Church of Antiochia According to Patriarch Makarios III az-Za‘īm”]. Vestnik tserkovnoi istorii, vols. 1–2 (25–26), pp. 116–157 (in Russian).
  11. Slīm S. (1994) “Waṣf al-mahṭūṭāt”, in Al-mahṭūṭāt al-‘arabiyya fī l-’adyira al-’ursūzuksiyya al-’anṭākiyya fī Lubnān. Al-ğuz’ as-sānī: dayr Sayyidat al-Balamand. Bayrūt, Ğāmi‘at al- Balamand, pp. 63–142.
  12. Walbiner C. (1999) “Ein christlich-arabischer Bericht über eine Pilgerfahrt von Damaskus zum Berge Sinai in den Jahren 1635/36 (Hs. Balamand 181)”. Parole de l’Orient, vol. 24, pp. 319–337.

Information about the author

Petrova Yulia

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Philology;
Place of work: A. Krymsky Institute of Oriental Studies, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine; 4 Grushevskogo str., Kiev 01001, Ukraine;
ORCID: 0000-0002-5130-232X;
Email: j.arabic2011@gmail.com.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.