Mount Saint Catherine is the highest point in the Sinai peninsula, reaching a height of 2,646 meters. The Chapel of Saint Catherine surmounts the mountain’s peak, adjoined by two cells and a small kitchen area for the aid of pilgrims. Suppose one begins the ascent to the height of the Chapel of the Forty Martyrs (Arbain), from where it is a four-hour climb to the summit. From the summit, it is possible to view the Red Sea and the distant mountains of mainland Egypt.
Location of Mount Catherine
Mount Catherine rocks
The name came from the Christian tradition that angels transported the body of the martyred Saint Catherine of Alexandria to this mountain.
Soon, a community of monks appeared around Mount Catherine, shortly after the dawn of the advent of Christianity in the land of Egypt. From this monastic community, one of the most famous monasteries in Egypt emerged. It is the monastery of St. Catherine on the foot of Mount Sinai.
Saint Catherine’s Monastery is the oldest continuously inhabited Christian monastery, with a history that we can trace back over seventeen centuries. The monastery predates the divisions of the Christian world, its origins extending to late antiquity.
However, from its beginnings, the Christian inhabitants of Sinai belonged to the Greek-speaking world. Furthermore, it has remained so to this day. Attacks have never wholly destroyed the monastery in all its history. Moreover, it kept intact the distinctive qualities of its Greek and Roman heritage. Members of other Christian confessions have honoured the monastery, coming as pilgrims to this holy place.
The earliest description refers to the Monastery of the Holy Virgin, for God’s revelation at the Burning Bush was a type of the Virgin Mary and the Incarnation. It holds its name until today, though the monastery has not lost its earlier dedications. Monks also primarily dedicated this monastery to Moses and Elias’s holy prophets. They came to this mountain and spoke with Christ at the Transfiguration. More recently, it gained its name as Saint Catherine’s Monastery.
On the north of Mount Catherine, archaeologists uncovered a cave with people and animals in red pigment paintings. In January, the cave dates back to the Chalcolithic Period, circa 5th–4th millennium BCE in 2020. The cave is full of filled with graffiti from different periods over time. The painting resembling a camel shows that some of the graffiti is not older than the first millennium BC and may belong to a later period. According to John Darnell, red-painted images are not as familiar as engraved images and text.