Saint Catherine’s Project

The Foundation supports the Saint Catherine’s Project, located within the Ligatus Research Centre at the University of the Arts London. The project is concerned with the preservation and conservation of the world’s oldest library which is located within the Monastery of Saint Catherine in Sinai, Egypt, itself the oldest active Christian monastery in the world. The Monastery's library holds a unique collection of manuscripts from the 4th to the early 19th century. Although the great majority are written in Greek, there are substantial collections in Arabic, Syriac, Georgian, and smaller numbers in seven other languages.

Ligatus has undertaken the task of assessing the condition of these manuscripts, together with an important collection of early printed books, classifying the information using modern digital techniques and offering advice on further conservation work. Professor Nicholas Pickwoad is the Saint Catherine’s Project leader, and his work in this field has been supported by the Foundation during 2018.

The annual Ligatus Summer School for advanced book conservation was held at the new National Library in Athens from 15-26 October 2018. Eight members of the Library’s staff attended Professor Pickwoad’s course in the first week of the School. The group visited the library of the Laskaridis Foundation in Piraeus and the Gennadius Library and was given access to the rare book stacks in order to select material for the School’s afternoon sessions. The course in the second week, which was attended by eight students, including members of the Library’s staff, was taught by Dr. Athanasios Velios and Dr. George Boudalis.

Professor Nicholas Pickwoad gave a public lecture in the National Library at the end of the first week of the Summer School entitled “Portraits with books: an examination of books in the paintings of Lorenzo Lotto and his contemporaries”, which was very well attended.

  • 33 people from 9 countries participated in the condition survey of the 3,307 bound manuscripts in the old library of the Monastery of Saint Catherine in Sinai.
  • 22 students participated in the Ligatus Summer School.