Oasis of Wadi Natroun
(The Holy Family in Egypt)
of the most significant places in the Western Desert is
Wadi El Natroun, situated 100km north west of Cairo. It
is a geological salt lakes vale indented in the desert,
that owes it's name to the Natroun salt, very relevant
to Ancient Egyptians as it was emplyed in the mummification
procedure. It is a birdwatchers paradise and became the
site of many monasteries in spiritual commemoration of
the Holy Family's passage through the valley. The monasteries
benefit from the atmosphere of seclusion and tranquility
that engulfs the whole dale and deserve a visit for their
fine examples of Coptic art.
library accommodates many valuable books and manuscripts
and the small museum houses a fine collection of icons.
Deir Anba Bishoi or Monastery of St Pshoi, who founded
not only this monastery but also the close by Al-Sorian's.
The church contains the remains of the saint and two charming
Subsequent Biblical history says it all: "They arrived
home in Nazereth, from where the message of Christ would,
in the fullness of time, be heard".
El Baramus or Monastery of the Romans, the oldest of the
sites in the Wadi. houses five churches. St. John the
Baptist's Church lodges a superb ivory icon work.
Deir Al-Sorian or Monastery of the Syrians, named after
Syrian monks who inhabited the monastery in the 8th century,
contains exquisite wall paintings in it's Church of The
desert view from the top of it's fortified keep is breathtaking.
Deir Abu Makar, or Monastery of St. Makarios, some 20
km south of St. Pshoi's, has given many Coptic popes among
it's monks and contains tombs of many patriarchs and martyrs
including the founder's itself. It is the most secluded
and it is necessary to obtain a visit permission issued
by it's Cairo administrative office.
The Holy Family found haven in Egypt for almost four years
after their flight from Bethlehem for fear of Kinf Herod's
persecution. Through the centuries their epic journey
has been revived and revered by Egyptians with many holy
The sacred travellers ventured all the way from Bethlehem,
through Sinai, to Sakha in the north of the Nile Delta
to Assiut in Middle Egypt. Old Cairo is among the most
important locations visited by the Hoy Family where the
spiritual impact of their presence is most felt still.
Some of such sites in the Fortress of Babylon area are,
The Church of Abu Serga, Al-Muallaqa or Hanging Church,
The Church of St. Barbara and the Convent of St. Georges
to mention just a few. At the Fustat section of the city,
The Church of the Virgin Mary of Al-Deshiria, The Church
of St.Mercurios Abu Sefein are among the hloy places.
An air of devotion pervades the whole district.
Nevertheless, the most meaningful destination of all the
land of Egypt is Mount Qussqam. There, the Monastery of
Al Muharrag was built around the cave where the Holy Family
dwelt for six months. This area is also known as Second
Bethlehem. On their way back, they retraced more or less
their steps on their outward journey across Sinai to Palestine.