Photographer's Note

Chapel of Our Lady of the Steward (Oikonomissa)

"The chapel is dedicated to a miraculous event which was reported in the 6th century.

The oikonomos, or Monastery steward, unable to obtain sufficient supplies to sustain the Fathers, climbed Mount Sinai to pray for the monks who had decided to leave the Monastery. The Virgin Mary appeared to him and promised that the storeroom would be filled. Descending from the mountain he saw a caravan of camels arriving laden with supplies from Palestine.

Another account explains that at one time the Monastery was so overrun with fleas, flies and ants that the monks could not "keep their corn or comfort there". All but two of the monks had left the monastery and they also had decided to leave after a final prayer on the summit of Mount Sinai. On their ascent they encountered at this spot an apparition of the Virgin Mary who promised that they "would not lack what they needed for living" and that the insects would not torment them any longer. Following this the monastery became free of these pests and until recently, pilgrims attested to this miracle, claiming that "Cretain unclean creatures like flies, wasps, hornets, fleas and others of that sort, cannot live there, nor come into the monastery from the outside. And it has been observed that if such creatures are introduced into the monastery, they instantly die.""

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