The Sunday Oregonian. (Portland, Ore.) 1881-current, July 20, 1919, Section One, Page 11, Image 11

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Light Burns for 13 Centuries
Where Moses Met God.
Cniperor Justinian Builder of Im
pregnable Cathedral That Sur
rounds Sacred Edifice.
(Copyright. 1U19, by the New York Herald
Company All Right Reserved.)
tCopyright, Canada, by the New York
Herald Company.)
Sinai, June 15. Dead ruins are com
moner than live institutions in the Near
East; but here at the foot of Mount
Sinai is a living: memorial of the dis
tant past. Far off in the midst of the
wilderness that is bounded by the Med
iterranean on the north, by the Suez
canal on the west, by the Gulf of Akaba
and Palestine on the east and by the
Red Sea on the south, is something
unique a church and a monastery in
a citadel that have been uninterrupted
ly alive and used for the same purpose
for more than 1300 years.
Not once in all these centuries, say
the monks, has the light been extin
guished that still burns in the chapel
built by St. Helena, mother of Constan
tino the Great, on the traditional site
of the burning bush where Moses heard
the voice of Jehovah.
That light appeals to the imagina
tion. It is still primitive a floating
wick in a glass lamp filled with olive
OIL The gray groves of olive trees in
the neighboring garden furnish the oil;
a bit of twisted moss will serve as a
wick; and there has never lacked a
devotee to keep the supply of these
local materials replenished. Genera
tion after generation, century after
century, age after age, that tiny flame
has continued to shine in beautiful
Little Light Outshines the Great.
During the life of this one small
light all the great lights of the world
have flickered or smoldered or gone
out. This flame has seen the glorious
beacon that was Grecian civilization
extinguished by the blackness of bar
barism. Rome's far-flaring torch
shriveled up and guttered out while
this tireless little flame held its wor
shipful vigil. Venice, Genoa, Spain,
Portugal, all rose in splendor and de
clined in decay while the feeble and
forgotten light at Sinai's foot still
shone on. Mohammedanism swept
across western Asia, northern Africa
and eastern Europe, trampling under
foot all lights except its own; this re
mote Christian shrine alone escaped,
while the most famous churches of
Christendom had their crosses sup
planted by the crescent of the prophet.
Before ever England was, or France
or Germany, or any other nations of
the modern world, and a thousand years
before the dreaming Genoan pushed the
prows of his little caravels into an un
known western sea, this sacred spot
was venerable. Kings, conquerors, em
pires, civilizations have come and gone
without so much as causing a flicker
of this ever-burning fire of devotion.
In the atmosphere of this unrealiza
bly old monastery the centuries seem
contemporaneous. These walls stood
strong and unconquered before the Lat
ins and Greeks divided, when the Chrls
tion church ruled Rome and Rome
ruled the world. We are carried back
to the monastic era of the church fath
ers, when piety and scholarship fled
from the world to caves in these rocks.
Their toilsome and beautiful handicraft
is still to be found among the library
treasures of this monastery.
Tiien, as now, religious zeal braved
the rigrors and perils of the wilderness
in order to follow in the footsteps of
Moses and Israel an: Elijah, and, per
chance to find God anew at the place
cf his rendezvous with the Hebrew law
giver. These walls were old. as we in
the west regard time, when Islam rose
in the desert across the neighboring
Gulf of Akaba, and the monastery with
stood that flood.
Hidden Treasures of Centuries.
The hereditary treasures of the place
such as the jeweled cross containing
within what is reputed to be a piece
of trie true cross remained unmolested
by the Crusaders, those prize looters ot
history, who never adventured this far
in force, although individual knights
must have come hither, for their arms
are carved in the refectory.
The Reformation was a drama of the
outside world to these Greek or East
ern churchmen, who still regard the
Roman Catholic church as a schism.
Kingdoms have been established,
have flourished, have fallen and- have
been forgotten, while these massive
walls of square hewn stones, built by
Emperor Justinian, have been unshaken
and unsurmounted. Something of the
awe of Mount Sinai itself attaches to
this wilderness sanctuarv. Like its own
garden of green in sterile fastnesses.
It is a symbol of changeless life and
hope amid the wastes of human exist
ence. r- "Mwa,ys a place of Pilgrimage, St.
Catherine s monastery has seen the
character of the pilgrims vary greatly.
Once they were hair-splitting Alexan
drians and Byzantines. Later they
were palmers from England and
France. Afterward came uncouth men
and women from Mt scovy.
Latest of all, to the number of 200
within 50 years, an average of four a
day. have appeared a new peoplr, keen
to climb the highest peaks and to ex
amine the uttermost antiquity and
treasure, .he Americans, favorites of
me monKs, wno m peace times see al
together only about a dozen parties
of travelers a year. It is the Ameri
cans who are inciting the monastery to
install fire prevention and fire ex
tinguishing devices and to build vaults
for the priceless trersures, now hidden
away in medieval fashion, and for the
manuscripts and books that are beyond
all replacement.
Sinai Safe From Tourist Tribe.
Mount Sinai will never be a popular
tourist resort. Nature has attended
to that. Pains and to 1 are the price
that must be paid to visit it, across
sandy wastes ind through difficult
mountain passes. There is room for
airplanes to land on the uneven and
rock-strewn broad plal i hidden in the
mountains near the foot of Mount of
the Law. where the children of Israel
v.-aited for the descent of JToses, but
fliphts over these jagged and gusty
peaks will never be popular. A motor
road or a wagon trail seems an im
possibility. The camel wil continue to
be. as in the days of the patriarchs,
the one popular means of conveyance.
This sacred site seems -ermanently in
accessible, as if designedly shut off
from the profaning vandalism of the
merely curious.
Therein Mount Sinai is unique among
notable mountains. Olympus is on the
main travel route, through Greece;
thousands of Americans have seen it.
Ararat is accessible from everywhere
by boat and train. Mount Hermon is
just off the beaten path through the
Holy Land and a pleasant, easy side
trip. The Himalayas and Fuji-Yama
have long been a tourist show. But
Sinai has for ramparts hot and for
bidding deserts and difficult passes
through precipitous and forbidding
Before ever he was chosen leader of
Israel's hosts, Moses knew this region
afoot. Fleeing from Pharaoh, after his
hot sense of Justice had led him to slay
the Egyptian oppressor of hi-t Hebrew
compatriot, Moses made his way to the
mountain fastnesses of Sinai even as
did a later prophet, Elijah, when escap
ing the vengeance of Queen Jezebel.
Here he became a shepherd, dwelling
for 40 years amid these ravines or
wadys, and these mount Ins. Every
peak and every glen became as familiar
to him as to the Shepherds of today,
whom one encounters in the remotest
spots. Often Moses clambered over the
slippery face of these mountain sides,
following his surefooted flocks. When
I ascended Jebel Musa Mount Moses,
the traditional Mountain of the Law
I found abundant evidences that sheep
and goats, with their - ttendants. visit
this peak far oftener than do human
beings. Doubtless ?lo.i was here as
a shepherd before ever he came to the
place as a prophet.
'r'his familiarity with the Peninsula
of Sinai which Moses possessed before
ever he becan.e the deliverer of the
Jews trom J&srypt was. of course, ai
place as a destination for the Israelites.
Moses lived here, and reared a family,
in a black goat's hair tent such aa the
Bedouins still use. He more nearly re
sembled in personal appearance one of
these dignified sheiks than the august
western figures portrayed by Michael
angelo and Sargent. Before ever Moses
returned to Egypt he had dreamed
dreams and made calculations while
roaming this mountain wilderness of
how and where his people might travel
and dwell in Sinai. The entire course
of the Exodus is colored by the fact of
the long residence of Moses amid these
granite peaks and defiles.
Propitiate Mountain Spirits.
There is reasonableness in the close
association of the burning bush with
the Mount of the Law. Tbey were both
familiar ground to Moses; the Voice in
the Bush is a logical place forerunner
of the Voice on the Mountain. No
thoughtful person who has traveled
amid these mountains can escape the
sense of awsomeness which these mag
nificent heights impart. Even the
most sophisticated has thoughts of the
supernatural while in Sinai: that the
primitive peoples who dwelt here
should people the passes and the peaks
with spirits is most natural.
As we cross the various passes, or
come to curious rocks, the camel driv
ers toss stones upon the immemorial
heaps that have been piled by their
predecessors. It may be loosely inter
preted as "fpr luck." or it may be ac
cepted as straightout propitiation and
worship of the spirits of the moun
tains. The same usage obtains as far
east in Asia as Japan. So does tiie
other, as a sort of effigy or memorial,
ir-.portant factor in the choice of the.
practice of setting one stone upon an
after the fashion followed at Mizpah
by Jacob and Laban. I find one of
these common "pillars' or piles in a
photograph I took on top of Jebel Musa.
More abstract and lofty were the
musings of Moses amidst these moun
tains. This was the school wherein
he learned Jehovah, the one God, whom
he was later to interpret to his peo- J
pie and to all mankind. Moses and
Elijah, and we know not what other
wide-faring prophets of Bible times,
found God in these rocky fastnesses.
Secluded, suggestive, sublime, Sinai is
a scene of surpassing .sanctity.
Hermit Shares Cave With I. lorn.
From earliest days a holy spot, the
Sinai mountains were found to be an
ideal place for the early Christian
monastic refugees from Egypt and
Syria. Here are caves in plenty, and
solitude and remoteness from the se
ductions and snares of the world. One
of the monkish legends concerns St.
Stephan he whose skeleton has for
centuries sat grewsomely at the en-
trancs to the mortuary of St. Cather
ine's monastery of whom it is said
that when he lived here in the sixth
century he shared his cave on Jebel
Musa with a lion, the beast recognizing
the sanctity of the recluse.
Neighboring Arabs were not always
kind to the Christian hermits. Some
times they massacred them in numbers;
oftener they persecuted them individ
ually. It was primarily to afford a
refuge for these holy men. the story
of whose sufferings had aroused his
religious zeal, that the Roman Emperor
Justinian erected the citadel, in the
year 527. The spot chosen, a narrow
valley between two high mountains
a poor one from a strategic standpoint
even in those pre-sunpowder days. The
ill-equipped Arabs could hurl rocks
and shoot arrows over into the mon
astery. The reason for the location, however,
is obvious: the walls were built around
a sacred shrine, St. Helen's Chapel of
the Burning Bush. Hard by was the
well at which Moses had watered his
be especially attractive to the men who
matic circumstances, this spot would
flocks and in the desert wells are the
oldest and most persistent of land
marks. At the place where the Voice
had come to Moses under such dra
had fled to this same wilderness in
search of the Presence.
That the royal mother of Constan
tine the Great, famous seeker aftet
sacred sites as she was. turned power
ful influences toward Sinai Is evident
from the presence of various treasures.
Beautiful marbles, supposedly from the
Temple of Diana at Ephesus, where
the Apostle Paul once had a great ad
venture, adorn the apse of the church,
which now adorns the original Chapel
of the Burning Bush. Four massive
brass candelabra rest on lions that
supposedly date back to a pre-Christian
period. The mosaic in the apse it
historic, but it is not as old as the
pillars and capitals of the church. Oth
er precious treasures, gold, silver and
jewels, wrought into ecclesiastical ves
sels, the monks brought forth from
their hiding places to show us.
Into the little chapel of the Burn
ing Bush no one may enter without
removing his shoes. The traditional
position of the bush is marked by a
silver plate. There is only one win
dow, and through it once a year, in
April, a ray of sunlight strikes a silver (
cross. The) walla of the room, like I
those of the church, are covered with
icons and pictures, mostly worthless.
The centuries have not brought a sin
gle great painting to this church; and.
to be sure, the monks would not have:
recognized it as such. Men who hang
gilt Christmas tree ornaments upon
magniticent Bronze chandeliers, the
work of artists in metal who wrought
their masterpieces from pious motives,
could scarcely be expected to appre
ciate any form of art. The contents!
oi xne monastery are a strange com
mingling of the sublime and the ridic
ulous, the noble and the tawdry.
I aceavuered Cltidml Still Stmnam.
That, however, is running a bit
ahead of our story. We are first of
all concerned with this mighty citadel
of cut stones and buttresses and ram
parts and towers, a Christian em
peror's votive offering. It still stands
unbreached, a testimonial to the good
workmanship of an earlier day. There
have been repairs to the upper part,
which, the monks say, was left un
finished at Justinian's death. The
walls are so thick that rooms and
chapels are to be found inside of them.
Nothing short of high explosives could
batter down these defenses of a garri
son of religious recluses.
When danger threatened, and long
before the Amalekltes of Sinai attacked
the Exodus caravan, there was trouble
on this peninsula, and it has continued
ever since. The monks could not call
for the police or the soldiery. They
simply had to remain safe within" their
own strcng walls and live upon their
own subterranean stores of food and
their unfailing wells ot water. Front
their ramparts they could look down
through archers' portholes upon the
impotent besiegers. They also have a
secret underground passage into their
high-walled gardens.
Ancient Artillery Flre4.
These militant monks have been pre
pared to fight all through the cen
turies. Their armament consists of
eight pieces of artillery which ap
parently date back almost to the dis
covery of gunpowder. ' Three of the
eight have bores the size of a pistol
and they are lashed to blocks of wood.
Others are about one inch in caliber
and have wooden wheels.
All are muzzle loaders, fired by a
match applied, to the vent. It looked
as if It would be committing suicide
for a man to attempt to use one of
these ancient derelicts. Nevertheless,
when we left the monastery we were
given a salute ot two guns, along wltn
the tumultuous ringing of the mon
astery bells. The noise, especially in
that echoing valley, was terrific The
servant, doubtless prompted by grat
itude for American backsheesh, had
evidently loaded the old pieces almost
to the muzzle.
When the Turks were most menacing
during the war the monks secured from
the British modern rifles for all their
Inmates, alone with an adequate sup
ply of ammunition.
Eitraiee to Fort ChurcTa by Windlass.
Unique among defensive measures is
this citadel's method of entrance and
egress. This is a doorway, high up on
the wall and covered by a wooden shut
ter through which persons whose cre
dentials were acceptable were hoisted
up and in by a windlass. That wind
lass formerly was used for all visitors,
and during the present war, when the
Turks threatened, it was the only meth
od of communication with the outside
world; The illustration shows one of
our party being lifted Into the citadel.
There is now again open, since the
advent of the British has brought an
assurance of protection to the monas
tery, the small door on the eastern
side of the citadel. This Is only wide
enough to admit one person at a time.
It open into a narrow corridor
through the massive rtone walls, where
two heavy metal shjathed doors with
prodigious bolts and locks have to be
passed. Then the entrance, still nar
row, sharply turns into another corri
dor to the right, where a third huge
armored door swings. Another turn to
the left opens into the courtyard.
Three men could hold that corridor
against a hundred. Verily, it is the
church militant which dwells on Mount
(To Be Continued Tomorrow.
Government Geological Expert Ar
rives to Make Final Investigation,
of $5,000,000 Project.
NORTH MADRAS, Or., July 19. (Spe
cial..) The voting of 15,000.000 bonds
by the North Unit irrigation district of
Jefferson county has been valtdated
and In all respects confirmed in a de
cree by Circuit Judge Duffy in the
county clerk's office. The bonds are to
be a just obligation for construction
and other expenses incurred by the
Professor Crosby, government geo
logical expert, arrived In Madras this
week to make the final investigation
of this Irrigation project and to make
examination of the dam site at Benbam
Falls, on the Deschutes river.
The North Unit irrigation district has
an area of more than 100,000 acres and
comprises one of the finest bodies ot
dry farming land in Central Oregon.
Japan's Silk Exports $190,000,000.
YOKOHAMA, July 19. Prices of all
grades of raw silk, which dropped dis
astrously with the beginning of toe
war. have since mounted far above the
high tide of the last ten years. Japan
exported $190,000,000 worth of raw silk
last year, it is announced.
My Special $50 and $100
Diamond Rings Have No Equal
Buy Now
We still have a large stock of loose and mounted Diamonds which we
are selling at the old prices.' If you anticipate the purchase of a stone
in the future, don't wait do it now!
Diamonds Are Going Higher
The prediction is that by Christmas a good quality carat stone will
sell at J1000 and hard to get at that. Here you will find only the
better grade of diamonds at prices below the present market value.
Convenient Terms Without Extra Charge
Largest Diamond Dealer in Oregon
334 Washington St. Opp. Owl Drug Co.
Powers Offers Remarkable Value in This Special Three
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A home can hardly be called "mod
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A dainty adjunct to the
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close filler rods in sides and
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Use Your
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" 2Sfk. X.
mr aiiarrf-aM
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Living-Room or Porch Set $29.90
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A substantially built
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The A-B Pipeless
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It is the best heating apparatus of its kind made,
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No Home Can Safely Do Without
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During the Hot Summer Weather
If your butter resembles
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Powers has a fine and com
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ino r- if
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How a Victrola enhances the charm
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xi HhMsi?
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Big Showing of
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"Whoever invented the wsrdrobe trunk
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Suitcases and Hand
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It Does About Everything but Hang Out the
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A solidly constructed, well-put-together
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shVu i v r " i n
WW I 1 si