At 2,642 meters, Mt. Katherina is the highest peak in Egypt and, like Mt. Sinai, is one of the peninsula’s most holy mountaintops. It takes its name from St. Katherine, the young Christian convert executed by the Romans in Alexandria during the fourth century CE. Legend relates that angels carried her body to the Sinai region after her execution, laying her to rest atop this mountain. Local monks say the exact whereabouts of her remains were only revealed to one of their number in a dream during the ninth century. The next day, a group climbed the mountain to retrieve her body and to bring it back down to the monastery, which was subsequently renamed the Monastery of St. Katherine in her honor. Her remains, including a venerated withered hand, have been kept in the monastery ever since and remain one of its most closely guarded treasures.
A small chapel stands on the top of one of Mt. Katherina’s peaks today, marking the spot where her remains were found. If you look closely, you’ll see nearby rocks covered with the graffiti of pilgrims.
Just south of the peak bearing this chapel is another peak with two red and white masts on top. This is the higher of the two summits of Mt. Katherina and is sometimes also called Mt. Zebir. Whichever peak you ascend, you’ll enjoy one of the most iconic views in the Sinai. On a good day you can gaze out over the sea to both Africa and Asia and look back to the deserts crossed by earlier sections of the Abraham Path.