Sister Joanna to Show Film on Contemporary Life at St Catherines Monastery in the Sinai

(I just learned of this and wanted to post it quickly)

Sister Joanna from Mt. Sinai will present a free film on contemporary life at Mt. Sinai.   The film will be one Hour Prior to Cappella Romana’s concert of Medieval Byzantine Chant  Mt. Sinai: Frontier of Byzantium  in Portland and Seattle.  Film to be followed by Q/A Time with Sister Joanna.

Sr. Joanna is an Orthodox nun from the ancient Red Sea hermitage of Hammam Mousa (Springs of Moses), where the Hebrew people camped during the Exodus following the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea.

She will give a free presentation one hour prior to the concerts by Cappella Romana of Mt. Sinai: Frontier of Byzantium” in Portland (Sat., Nov. 19, film & talk at 7pm, concert at 8pm) and Seattle (Sun., Nov. 20, film & talk at 3pm, concert at 4pm). Film and talk sponsored in part by Middle Eastern Studies at Portland State University.  

Sister Joanna will begin with a video presentation called “Simplicity of Soul.” The film contemplates the mystery of simplicity of soul, which captivated the ascetic saints of the Sinai desert as requisite to the ultimate Christian goal of union with God.

Stepping “off the grid” into a forbidding environment of granite mountains which offered neither protection from the elements nor basic dietary sustenance, these early monastics discounted extreme privation in order to experience divine revelation, which they recorded in famous works such as The Ladder of Divine Ascent, by St. John Climacus of Sinai, universally considered the most important spiritual manual in the history of the Christian tradition, secondary only to the Bible.

Video and audio from the present day Monastery environs and worship services, images of the Burning Bush, ancient Monastery spiritual treasures, and the view from the Holy Summit of Sinai where Moses received the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments), would seem to indicate that modern life in Sinai has changed little since the massive present day fortress was raised by the Byzantine emperor Justinian in the 6th century.


Sr. Joanna was born in New York City. Her maternal grandparents immigrated to San Francisco from the villages of Koroni and Kandila in the Greek Peloponnisos in the early 20th century. Having trained in classical music performance at UC Santa Cruz and enjoyed some years in the San Francisco music scene, she followed her forbears’ footsteps back to Greece in pursuit of “the art of arts, and the science of sciences” – the monastic life.

She has been associated with St. Catherine’s Monastery since 1990 through its dependent monasteries in Greece and Sinai. She is temporarily serving “on assignment” in California, and regularly contributes journalistic articles on the spiritual tradition of the Sinai to the Hellenic Voice newspaper published in Boston.

Viewing this ancient body of Christian wisdom through the lens of modern society, the articles are largely composed of interviews with the famed Sinai ascetic elder, Priestmonk Pavlos, and are also slated for publication in book form by St. Katherine Press.


Originally commissioned by the J. Paul Getty Center in Los Angeles, this program by CAPPELLA ROMANA features festal chants for St. Catherine, patroness of the Monastery at Mt. Sinai, and music for the Byzantine liturgical drama, “The Play of the Three Children in the Fiery Furnace. Artistic director Alexander Lingas will conduct.

The 10-member ensemble of virtuoso Byzantine cantors from the US and Europe features Stelios Kontakiotis, master chanter at the Shrine of the Virgin Mary on Tinos, Greece, who also premiered this program with Cappella Romana in 2006.

The program will be available at the concerts as a deluxe limited edition CD(Cappella Romana’s 14th release), produced by Grammy-award winning producer Steve Barnett. The CD’s 20-page booklet features full texts in Greek with translations, an in-depth essay on the music and its sources by Dr. Alexander Lingas, plus rarely seen photography of St. Catherine’s monastery from c. 1900.

Oregon State tour performances supported by the Oregon Cultural Trust: 
Thu, Nov. 17, 2011, 7pm, United Methodist Church, Tillamook; Information at503.965.2244 or by email at
Fri, Nov. 18, 2011, 7:30pm, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Medford; Information at541.773.3111 or at

Cappella Romana 20th Anniversary Series concerts: 
PORTLAND: Sat., Nov. 19, 2011, 8pm, St. Mary’s Cathedral, 1739 NW Couch St (at 18th)
SEATTLE: Sun, Nov. 20, 2011, 4pm, St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 2100 Boyer Ave E.
FOR PORTLAND AND SEATTLE:  Online at or 503.236.8202, or at Box Office Tickets 503.205.0715 or 800.494.8497. Tickets start at $22, discounts for seniors, students & Arts for All

Free pre-concert talk and video about St. Catherine’s Monastery one hour prior to the concerts by Sister Joanna. Associated with St. Catherine’s Monastery through its dependent monasteries in Greece and Sinai, Sister Joanna lives at the hermitage of Hammam Mousa (Springs of Moses), where the Hebrew people camped during the Exodus after the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea.  

Cappella Romana’s name (lit. “Roman Chapel”) refers to the Medieval Greek concept of the Roman oikoumene (inhabited world), which embraced Rome and Western Europe, as well as the Byzantine Empire of Constantinople (“New Rome”) and its Slavic commonwealth. Cappella Romana was founded in 1991 by Dr. Alexander Lingas, who is a Senior Lecturer in Music at City University in London, England, and one of the world’s leading scholar-performers of Byzantine and Orthodox music.

Editors note:  This same weekend is the Journey to Light Conference and those people registering for the Journey to Light Conference will receive a 20% discount on this performance by Cappella Romana.  This discount will not be available at the door.

About editorOrthodoxNorthwest

An Orthodox Christian, whose interests also include, GO, Square Dancing, hiking, exploring, swimming, kayaking, cooking, history, board games. I am the Editor of OrthodoxNorthwest which I hope benefits readers in the NW. I do post Romanian, Greek and Slavic info but I cannot read any of them - hey, I am an American. Would appreciate hearing from readers of the blog. Χριστός Ανέστη! (Anthony)
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