Egypt Reopens Sixth Century Library and Mosaic in Sinai Monastery

The library at the St. Catherine Monastery in southern Sinai contains thousands of rare manuscripts, some of them are the oldest in Christianity

A general view of Saint Catherine's Monastery, Sinai, Egypt, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009
Hussein Talal / Associated Press

Egypt on Saturday reopened an ancient library and a mosaic at a sixth century monastery in Sinai after renovations, officials said.

The library at the St. Catherine Monastery in southern Sinai contains thousands of rare manuscripts, some of them are the oldest in Christianity.

Most of the transcripts are in Greek. Others are in Arabic, Syriac, Georgian, Hebrew, Armenian and Polish.

"The library is the second after the Vatican Library in terms of manuscript importance," said Abdel-Rehim Rehandi, the director of the archaeological studies department in Sinai.

Conservationists also restored a historic mosaic inside the monastery, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Egyptian Antiquates Minister Khaled al-Enany and several diplomats as well as Egyptian officials attended the inauguration ceremony.

"Today's inaugurations come as a message of safety and peace to the entire world," al-Enany said, according to a statement from the ministry.

Egypt is seeking to revive its battered tourism, a main source of national income.

The industry has been struggling since the 2011 uprising against Egypt's longtime dictator Hosny Mubarak.

Tourism has also been hurt by a wave of militant attacks, mainly in Sinai, since the army's 2013 toppling of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.