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The Journey of the Holy Family in Egypt

Our Lord Jesus Christ, to Him all the glory, was born in the city of Bethlehem, according to the prophecy of Micah: “And you, Bethlehem Ephrata, Little among the thousands of Judah, From you will come to me He who rules over Israel, And whose origin goes back to ancient times, In the days of eternity ”(Micah 5: 2). As soon as our Lord Jesus Christ was born, a star shone above the lands of Persia, to announce His birth: “Balaam spoke his oracle, and said: Word of Balaam, son of Beor, Word of the man who with an open eye, the Word of him who hears the words of God, of him who knows the purposes of the Most High, of him who sees the vision of the Almighty, of him who prostrates himself and whose eyes open. I see it, but not now, I contemplate it, but not closely. A star emerges from Jacob, A scepter rises from Israel. He pierces the sides of Moab,

The Magi who came from (Persian lands) were experts in astrology and when they observed the stars, they saw a star which shone more than the others, and therefore prepared to undertake a long journey towards Jerusalem to see the Child and present their gifts to Him: Gold, frankincense and myrrh.

When the Magi arrived in Jerusalem, they asked King Herod, (the place) where the Child Jesus was, as it is written in the Holy Bible:  ”  Jesus being born in Bethlehem in Judea, at the time of King Herod, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, and said, Where is the king of the Jews who has just been born? Because we saw his star in the East, and we came to worship him. King Herod, having heard of this, was troubled, and all of Jerusalem with him. He assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people, and inquired of them where Christ was to be born. They said to him, At Bethlehem in Judea; for this is what was written by the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, You are certainly not the least among the principal cities of Judah, For from you will come a chief Who will feed Israel my people. Then Herod sent for the magi to be called in secret, and inquired carefully of them how long the star had been shining. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, Go, and take exact information about the little child; when you have found it, let me know, so that I too will worship it myself  (Mt.2: 1-8).

In fact, Herod himself wanted to know the place where the Infant Jesus was, in order to be able to destroy Him, because he feared that the Infant Jesus would dominate his kingdom.

The Magi, guided by the Star, traveled to Bethlehem until the Star stopped above the humble place where the Infant Jesus was installed, with His Mother, the very pure Ste. Virgin Mary and St. Joseph the carpenter, Servant of the Holy and Divine Incarnation. The Magi bowed down in adoration before the Child Jesus. They offered him their presents gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold is a symbol of sovereignty, because our Lord Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Frankincense is a symbol of the clergy since our Lord Jesus Christ is the ultimate High Priest. Finally, the Myrrh is a symbol of the sufferings of our Lord until death, by which He gave us life and saved us.

When the Magi left, the Holy Bible tells us:  ”  Then, divinely warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they returned to their country by another way  ” (Mt 2:12) and ”  When they were gone, here , an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, and said, Arise, take the little child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I speak to you; for Herod will seek the little Child to destroy him. Joseph got up, took the little Child and his mother by night, and withdrew to Egypt. He stayed there until Herod died, so that what the Lord had announced through the prophet might be accomplished: I called my son out of Egypt  ”(Mt. 2: 13-15).

The prophet Isaiah predicted this blessed journey, almost 700 years ago. This is mentioned in chapter 19 of the book of Isaiah: “  Oracle on Egypt. Behold, the LORD rode on a swift cloud, he came to Egypt; And the idols of Egypt tremble before him, And the hearts of the Egyptians fail  ”(Is. 19: 1). And ”  At the same time there will be an altar to the Lord in the middle of the land of Egypt, and on the border a monument to the Lord  ” (Is. 19:19).

The altar still exists at Muharraq Monastery in the city of Assiut and is located exactly in the center of Egypt.

The ‘Monument’ is St. Mark the Apostle who preached Christianity in Alexandria, located north of Cairo (I don’t understand the sentence). In addition, the Lord blessed Egypt through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah, saying: ” The Lord of hosts will bless them, saying: Blessed be Egypt, my people …  ” (Is. 19:25). 

The journey from Ste. Family lasted, in all, almost two years. Then, under the guidance of God, she returned to Israel to settle in the city of Nazareth: ”  When Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph, in Egypt, and said: Arise take the little child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, because those who wanted the life of the little child are dead. Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But, having learned that Archelaos reigned over Judea in place of Herod, his father, he feared going there; and, divinely warned in a dream, he withdrew into the territory of Galilee, and came to live in a city called Nazareth, so that what might have been foretold by the prophets was fulfilled: He will be called Nazarene  ”(Mt. 2: 19 – 23).

The journey of the Holy Family

Station No. 1: Bethlehem

The flight to Egypt begins at Bethlehem, the first station. Bethlehem is a small town six miles south of Jerusalem, and this is where David the Prophet and King was born. It is also where our Lord Jesus Christ, God incarnate, was born for our salvation. Rachel’s grave is also there, as is the Church of the Nativity where the birthplace of our Lord Jesus Christ is located.

Station No.2: The Sinai Desert

The Holy Family arrived at the northeastern borders of Egypt, at the city of Rafah. From there, she traveled to Sheikh Zouaid, Arish and then to the city of Baloza (currently known as Farama, near Port Said). All these places are found in the Sinai Desert, near the Mediterranean Sea.

For the first three places, the only sign of vegetation consisted of a green grass similar to green tea, (and which are) called ‘Mariamiah’. This is very beneficial, boiled leaves provide a pleasant drink after adding sugar. It is believed that this plant is known as Mariamiah, after the name of the Virgin Mary, who is said to have taken, boiled and drunk of these plants during her passage through these three places.

Adjacent to the town of Farma, located in Sinai three kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea, is a place called Tel el Farama or Mount Farama. On this mountain, we find the remains of a fortress and old pillars. There are also the ruins of the monastery of Ste. Virgin Mary and St. Isidoros el Farmy. This is why we call this mount, the mount of churches.

The Holy Family entered the Sinai border with Egypt on 24 th day of the Coptic month Bachans, which falls on 1 st June The Church considers this day as the feast of the entry of our Lord Jesus Christ into the land of Egypt. The Church still celebrates this holiday every year. It is one of the minor festivals of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Station No.3: Tel Basta (Mont Basta)

The Holy Family arrived at the city of Tel Basta which is now an ancient city on the outskirts of the city of Zagazig, capital of the governorate of Sharquia. This city was once known as ‘the city of the gods’ because it contained a multitude of temples dedicated to idols. At the entrance of the Holy Family in this city, all the statues of the idols fell to the ground and were destroyed, which caused terrible fear to the citizens of this city. It was written in the prophecy of Isaiah: “  Oracle over Egypt. Behold, the LORD rode on a swift cloud, he came to Egypt; And the idols of Egypt tremble before him, And the hearts of the Egyptians fail (Is. 19: 1). When people saw the destruction of idols and temples at the entrance of the Holy Family into their city, they refused to treat it respectfully and pushed it out of the city. However, the Lord Jesus spouted water from the earth so that He could drink along with His Mum and St. Joseph, before leaving this city. This is the 1 st well created by the Lord Jesus during his trip to Egypt. It is worth noting that He initiated 18 wells (of water) during His journey in Egypt, some of them still exist.

Station No. 4: Mostorod

Mostorod is located in the suburbs of Cairo and belongs to the governorate of Kalioubeya. Its church depends on the diocese of Shubra el Kheima.

The Holy Family visited the city of Mostorod and the Lord Jesus Christ spouted a well (of water) from which each member of the Holy Family drank. It is also in this well that the Holy Virgin Mary bathed her divine Child; this is why this well is called ‘El Mahamma’ which means the basin. It is also in this well that the Virgin Mary washed her clothes. There is an old church located in Mostorod that many come to visit, especially for the feast of the Ste. Virgin.

Station No. 5: The city of Bilbeis

After leaving the city of Mostorod, the Holy Family headed northeast towards the city of Bilbeis, which belongs to the governorate of Sharquia. This is where the Holy Family rested under the shade of a tree known as ‘the tree of Mariam’. There is also an old church there.

Station No. 6: The town of Samannud

Samannud is currently a part of the governorate of Gharbeya. It houses an old church called the Church of the Virgin Mary and of St. Abanoub El Neheisy, and depends on the diocese of Mehalla el Kobra.

When the Holy Family left the town of Bilbeis in the direction of northern Egypt, it arrived in the town of Samannud. There she was greeted with great joy when the Lord gave life to the dead. The Holy Family stayed for a long time in the city of Samannud (for a long time). A woman from the city offered to Ste. Virgin a kneading bowl made of stone, as a gift. The Ste. Virgin kneads the dough there to make bread for ( her and the rest of) the whole Holy Family. This bowl still exists; it is kept in a glass hut in the church courtyard. In this same courtyard, there is a well (of water) in which the Holy Family drank. (Drew water or watered)

Even now, water from this well is poured into this bowl as a blessing for visitors.

Station No. 7: The city of Sakha

The city of Sakha is currently part of the governorate of Kafr El Sheikh, close to the Mediterranean Sea. After leaving the city of Samannud, the Holy Family headed for the city of Sakha, whose Coptic name is ‘Bikha Isos’ which means the foot of Jesus.

In this city, the Lord stood on a rock and His foot left an imprint on it. This rock still exists with the imprint of a small foot on it. It is kept in a glass box inside the Church. Below the rock, the following words are inscribed: ‘God is One’. In addition, a source of water springs from the same place, from which the Holy Family was able to drink.

A monastery for monks was built in this city: Deir el Maghtas. After its destruction in the 13 th century, a church was built in its place. It still exists.

Station No. 8: Wadi El Natroun (The Natroun valley)

After leaving the city of Sakha, the Holy Family crossed the Nile and headed west of the Delta until arriving at the Natroun valley.

It is a rectangular valley in the western desert, which depends on the governorate of Beheira. Its dimensions are 60 km in length and 12 km in width. At the time of the pharaohs, it was named ‘Sokhty Hamam’ (‘Wady el Malh in Arabic)’ which means ‘the valley of salt’, since its lakes contain abundant amounts of salt that the pharaohs used for mummification of their deceased.

During its journey through this desert region, the Holy Family was thirsty, so the Lord Jesus made a spring of fresh water come out so that they could all drink and then they rested. This source of water still exists and is called ‘The source of Mariam’. Later the name of the source was changed to ‘the source of Hamra’, when a nearby village called el Hamra village was built and all of its people depended on this source for fresh water. This source produced abundant quantities of fresh water, which mixed with salt water to form a lake (of water) which irrigated hundreds of Feddans. This water is used for medical purposes, (and) to treat difficult illnesses such as psoriasis.

On the other hand, thanks to the blessings of the Holy Family who visited Wadi El Natroun, monasticism was established in the year 330 AD, under the government of St. Makaire the Great who came from one of the villages of Menoufiya, close from the Natroun Valley. He lived in a cellar in the west of the valley, where the Baramos monastery is currently located.

The two Roman brothers, Saint Maximos and Saint Domadios, son of a Roman King, were the first to be ordained monks under the government of St. Makarios (also known as Anba Makar). After building the monastery, they named it Baramos, which means the two Romans.

When the number of monks increased in this monastery, St. Makarios left it and entrusted the management to (entrusted it to the guidance of) some of his disciples, such as: Anba Isidoros and Anba Pavnotious. Then, St. Makarios went to live in the eastern region of the Natrun Valley, where he founded another monastic group and another monastery: The Monastery of Anba Makar (known as Deir Anba Makar).

The Anba Makar monastery became famous in the Middle Ages.

More than 15 patriarchs of the Coptic Church were chosen from this monastery. As for Baramos Monastery is a famous monastery, which come from several famous patriarchs during the 19 th and 20 th centuries.

Halfway between the monastery of Anba Makar and that of Baramos, two other large monasteries were established: that of St. Bishoy and that of Ste. Virgin Mary El Sourian (Syriacs). They are close to the Rest House which is located on the Cairo-Alexandria desert road.

St. Bishoy monastery was established during the 5 th century under the supervision of St. Bishoy. It is especially famous for being the main papal residence, established by the late Pope Chenouda III. he spent almost three days a week there on a spiritual retreat. When Pope Chenouda III went to heaven on March 17, 2012, he was buried in this monastery, in a private tomb which later became an exhibition hall for the objects that belonged to him and that everyone comes see.

(Then,) When Pope Tawadros who was from this same monastery was ordained Patriarch, he adopted the same papal residence. He made several renovations there and added several churches and buildings. He often spends several days there (on purpose) in retirement or rest, as well as certain days of conferences and celebrations. May the Lord give him long life for the Church and monasticism.

As for the monastery of Ste. Virgin Mary el Sourian, it is adjacent to that of St. Bishoy and is separated from it by a grid. This monastery was built in the 6 th century over the cave where St. Bishoy was accustomed to retreat to pray and that is very close to his monastery. This cave still exists and is adjacent to the main church of the Sourians (Syriac) monastery.

This monastery was named the monastery of the Blessed Virgin Mother of God; it is one of the monasteries of Theotokos, established following the Council of Ephesus in the year 431 AD, with the aim of confirming the doctrine of Theotokos.

The monastery of Ste. Virgin is known as the Monastery Surian (Syriac) for the 8 th century, the monks of the Syriac Orthodox Church (church sister) had settled for some time in this monastery (and there) the name of Sourian or Syriac was then added to the name of the Monastery of the Blessed Virgin.

The desert of Shihit or the Scetes of Makarios in the Natroun valley was reputed to be rich in teachings of monasticism. This is why the monks of all nationalities (and from different countries) came to learn everything related to monasticism according to the teachings of the old monks and educators. They lived in monasteries, close to the Coptic monks. In this desert we find the Sourians monastery as well as the Ethiopian monastery, the Armenian monastery and the Nubian monastery.

The Sourians Monastery is renowned for its many anchorites, its highly educated monks, and also for its large library rich in its ancient manuscripts, its books written in several languages ​​including among others: Arabic, Coptic, Greek, Syrian , Ethiopian, English and French.

Our current Pope, SS Pope Shenouda III comes from this monastery. He raised very high the name of the Coptic Church, in the whole world by its abundant science and its spirituality. On the other hand, many bishops and archbishops known for their science and piety, came from this monastery.

Station No. 9: The Matarieh region and the Ain Shams region

The Holy Family left the Natroun Valley for Matarieh and Ain Shams. Ain Shams is an ancient region which was called in the time of the pharaohs the city of On. The people were very cultivated and all the old priests and the sons of kings were educated there. It is even mentioned in the Bible that Joseph had married Asnath, the daughter of the priest of On. “  Pharaoh called Joseph after Tsaphnath Paenéach; and he gave him for wife Asnath, daughter of Poti Pera, priest of On. And Joseph set out to visit the land of Egypt ” (Ge. 41:45).

It is the city of Shams (Sun), mentioned in the prophecy of Isaiah: ”  On this day, there will be in the country of Egypt five cities where one will speak the language of the Hebrews and where the they will be sworn in by the Lord, the Lord of heavenly hosts. One of them will be called: the City of the Sun  ”(Isaiah 19:18). When the Greeks occupied Egypt, they called this city Heliopolis or City of the Sun (Madinat el Shams).

The Holy Family arrived in the region of Matariyeh which is close to that of Ain Shams, and there the Lord Jesus brought forth a source of fresh water. The Holy Family drank this water and the Blessed Virgin washed the clothes of the Child Jesus there. This water poured on the ground made grow a plant with wonderful fragrance which is the balm (Balsam). So far, there is a street in this area called Balsam Street.

The Holy Family rested under a large tree known to this day as ‘the tree of Mariam’ and which still exists (largely) in the same place. Other trees of the same kind have been planted next to this tree and they still exist.

The tree and the well are surrounded by a large grid. They constitute an important tourist site. This site was visited by Queen Eugenie, Queen of France, who obtained blessings, during her visit to Egypt at the time of the inauguration of the Suez Canal in 1869. Likewise, many French soldiers, visited and took the blessing of blessed water from the well. Some soldiers were even cured of various illnesses and wrote their names and words of gratitude on the tree trunk.

Station No. 10: El Zeitoun

After leaving the Matarieh district, the Holy Family went to the Zeitoun district, where they rested for a short time. Twenty centuries later, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the Church which bears her name and which is located (at) rue Toman Bay in Zeitoun. This miraculous apparition took place on April 2, 1968. The Blessed Virgin continued to appear above this church for a whole year, and hundreds of thousands of people, of different religions and nationalities have testified to it. This church then became a new global site (until today.) In the year 2018, the Coptic Church celebrated the 50 th anniversary of these apparitions. It was a celebration worthy of the Ste. Virgin Mary, Mother of God.

Station No. 11: Haret Zoueila

The Holy Family arrived at Haret Zoueila and drank water from a well there. (During) the 4 th century, God asked a Coptic man and rich, named Hakim Zeilon, to build a church on the site surrounding the well. As for the name of Zoueila, it comes from a troop called Zoueila, among some troops coming from Morocco who settled in this district, at the time of Gawhar el Sakkali and who founded the city of Cairo.

This church was also named “ the Church of the Blessed Virgin who defeated the iron ”, in honor of the miracle made by the Blessed Virgin in St. Matthias (one of the twelve apostles preaching in Asia Minor), when she l delivered iron handcuffs to prison. In addition, the weapons of the jewelers had melted and St. Matthias was saved, by the prayers of Ste. Virgin Mary. The Church annually celebrates the commemoration of this miracle, on July 28 which corresponds to the 21st of the Coptic month of Baouna.

This church is an old church, dating from the 4 th century and served as a papal residence at 23 patriarchs of the Coptic Orthodox Church for more than 300 years. Next to this church are two convents for nuns: One of them is named after the Virgin Mary and the other is named after the Prince of Martyrs, St. George. The sisters who live in these convents follow the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary who visited this place. They dedicated their hearts to Christ and their bodies to virginity. They live a life of adoration, detachment from the world and attachment to God, as did the Blessed Virgin who blessed this place.

Station No. 12: The Church of La Ste. Virgin Mary, El Ezbaweya

The Holy Family left Haret Zoueila for Old Cairo, which was directly on the banks of the Nile. On the way she passed through the district of Ezbakiah where St. Mark’s Cathedral and the papal residence were built in the 18 th century. This residence was that of nine patriarchs of the Coptic Orthodox Church, for a period of more than 150 years. All this, thanks to the blessings of the Holy Family who passed through this place.

Close to St. Mark’s Cathedral is the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Ezbaweya. The name Ezbaweya comes from a path called ‘Atfet el Ezba’, which leads into a wider alley called ‘Haret el Geneina’. All these names indicate that this place was agricultural land at the time of the passage of the Holy Family. This land contained a large garden cultivated with fruit trees and a farm which belonged to a rich farmer. At the entrance to the Ezbaweya, there is a well from which the Holy Family drank. We can see a marble plaque on which it is inscribed: ‘The well of Ste. Virgin Mary ‘. In this place, a great miracle had taken place: During its passage by this agricultural ground, the Holy Family had met an Egyptian peasant who planted the seeds of watermelons. He welcomed him and offered him to drink water from the well. He also used this water to irrigate the land. It is worth noting that this well still exists, inside the Ezbaweya. During their stop there in order to rest, the Blessed Virgin Mary said to the peasant: “We are fleeing before King Herod, because he wants to kill this innocent Child”. The Blessed Virgin spoke to her about the Lord Jesus and His divine incarnation. The peasant was then very moved by the innocent Child Jesus and by the spiritual words of the Ste. Virgin. Then she said to him, “By the strength of my Son, the Lord Jesus, a marvelous miracle will happen; you will see it tomorrow, early in the morning, when you return to your land. Know that men will pass through this field and question you about us, describing our appearance to you. They will ask you if you saw an old man, a young woman and a small child, traveling on a donkey. Tell them that in fact such a family passed by while you were planting the watermelon seeds. ”

After hearing these words, he greeted them and returned home. The Holy Family went to Old Cairo and took refuge in a cave located in the church of Abu Serga. The next morning, the peasant returned to the field and found the seeds he had planted the day before, which have become large, very ripe watermelons! It was exactly what the Blessed Virgin had predicted. He saw the miracle with his own eyes and sat down to meditate.

A few hours later, Herod’s messengers arrived in search of the Holy Family. They questioned the farmer, giving him the description of the Holy Family. The farmer answered them: “Such a family passed by here, while I planted the watermelon seeds in my field” (As the Blessed Virgin had ordered him to answer). Hearing these words and seeing the watermelons, they were very disappointed and said to themselves: “The family passed by here at least three or four months ago …” They left, desperate and the Holy Family was saved.

Station No. 13: The Abu Serga Church in Old Cairo

The Holy Family arrived in Old Cairo and took refuge in an underground cellar, near a military fortress called the Fortress of Babylon, where it stayed (for) three months. (Possibly,) This cellar was transformed into a church and later another, larger church was built on top of it. This church is named after the two saints: St. Sergeos and St. Bacchus. It is known as the church of Abu Serga. It is a famous church, which is visited by many tourists from all over the world, who come there to be blessed on the place where the Holy Family lived (for) a certain time.

There is an old well in Abu Serga from which the Holy Family drank. There is also a deep pool of the time of Governor el Hakem Be Amr Allah El Fatemy who had forbidden Christians to celebrate the feast of the Epiphany on the banks of the Nile and had persecuted them for this reason. The Church had found a way to continue celebrating this holiday: A large hollow (like a well) had been made at the entrance of some churches, and filled with water. Then the prayers of the blessing of water (lakkan) were said on the water, and the young men (men) descended into this hollow, with their clothes to enjoy the blessing of this blessed water during this joyous celebration.

The church of Abu Serga is one of the oldest churches in Egypt. Next to it, there is another contemporary church to the first which is known as the Moualaqua or the Hanging Church, because it is built above two towers of the Roman fortress of Babylon: C ‘ is the Church of the Ste. Virgin Mary. Between these two churches is the Coptic Museum, established by Séméka Pasha who was a wealthy Christian who loved Coptic history. This museum currently belongs to the Ministry of Antiquities.

The Abu Serga Church celebrates Christ’s entrance into Egypt on 24 Coptic months ‘Bashans’, which falls on 1 st June We hope that one of these days will be an annual national holiday in Egypt.

Station No. 14: The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Maadi

The Holy Family arrived at the Maadi district, on the edge of the Nile. In this place, a church was built later and named: The Church of the Blessed Virgin ‘Maadiya’ which means ‘who crossed’, because the Holy Family passed by this place and took a boat to cross the Nile to arrive in Upper Egypt. Later, this whole region was called ‘Maadi’….

Formerly, this place being very far from the city of Cairo, a monastery had been built and named ‘The Monastery of the Blessed Virgin el Adwiya’. But, later when this region was developed and inhabited, the monks could no longer stay there, since they seek solitude and tranquility in desert places. Then, the monastery was transformed into a church to serve the congregation of this region.

The Holy Family lived for a few days in this region, then boarded a boat in the direction of Upper Egypt. Indeed, in the courtyard of this church, there is an opening where there are stairs that descend to the Nile and it is said that it is from there that the Holy Family embarked.

On March 12, 1976, after the celebration of the Holy Mass in this church, certain faithful saw a large Bible (Holy) floating on the surface of the Nile in the direction of the Church. The Book stopped in front of the steps of the stairs leading to the church and the faithful carefully picked it upHe was open to the 19 th chapter of the book of Isaiah, which says: ”  Proclamation on Egypt. Behold the Lord: he rides a light cloud, he enters Egypt; the idols of Egypt vacillate before him, Egypt sees its courage melt. “(Is. 19: 1) and also “Blessed be Egypt, my people, Assour, the work of my hands, and Israel, my heritage.(Is 19:25).

The Church has placed this Holy Bible in a glass hut, inside a small chapel, (and) open on the same page. She is still there today. All of this confirms that the Holy Family did come to Egypt and passed through this place.

Station No. 15: The village of Deir El Garnos

The village of Deir el Garnos depends on the Center of Maghaghah, in the governorate of Minieh. This village is located just over 20 km west of Maghaghah.

This village is entirely inhabited by Christians and there is a Coptic church that was built in the 19 th century. Inside this church, there is a well from which the Holy Family drank during their stay in this place.

Station No. 16: Al Bahnasa

Al Bahnasa is a large village which depends on the center of Bani Mazar, in the governorate of Minieh. It is located about 17 km west of Bani Mazar, on the edge of the western desert next to the Joseph Sea (Bahr Youssef). All its inhabitants are Muslims. Formerly, it was a large Christian diocese which included numerous churches, monasteries and convents for sisters.

Currently, in the courtyard of the village mosque, there are two large trees on which are inscribed the words ‘The tree of Mariam’, because it is also one of the places visited by the Holy Family.

Station No. 17: The Monastery of the Virgin Mary, Gabal El Teir, Samalout

This monastery is near the Nile and is located east of the city of Samalout. It is known by several names:

  1. The Monastery of Gabal El Teir (The bird’s mount): During the winter, some bizarre birds came to this place, for a little while, seeking a little warmth.
  1. The monastery of El Bacara: At the threshold of the mountain, there was a pulley.

To get to the monastery, you had to arrive by boat by the Nile, then get into a wooden box linked to the pulley by a rope, then you made it climb by pulling on this rope. It was also used to obtain water from the Nile which flowed just below the monastery.

  1. The monastery of El Kaf (The palm): The old manuscript ‘Meymar’ recorded that during the crossing of the Nile by the Holy Family, a rock fell and rushed on the boat that took the Holy Family. Our Lord then stopped the rock before it hit the boat and thus saved the whole Family. The imprints of his hand were printed on this rock. This rock, with the imprints, still exists, and is preserved in the British museum, following the occupation of Egypt by England.

The old church of the monastery is carved into the mountain as Queen Helena, mother of King Constantine came into this place the 4 th century and ordered a church bearing the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is dug into the mountain . Inside the church, there is a large stone column and in the center of this column is carved a basin for baptisms.

It should be noted that the monastery of Ste. Virgin Mary of Gabal el Teir is one of the most important stations of the passage of the Holy Family in Egypt.

Station No. 18: El Ashmounin, Malawi

After blessing Gabal El Teir, the Holy Family crossed the Nile in a western direction towards the center of El Ashmounin, which is one of the oldest cities in Egypt and which is rich in numerous ancient monuments as well as monasteries, churches , martyrs and saints. A bishops of the best known there is Sawiros El Anba Mokafaa, the 10 th century. It was during his time that the miracle of the displacement of Mount Mokattam took place in Cairo. It was he who collected the biographies of all the patriarchs, starting with St. Mark, which established the Coptic Church in Egypt to those of the 10 th century.

Station No. 19: Mair

The Holy Family left in the direction of the village of Mair, which is located 7 km west of the city of Quoseya. The inhabitants of this village were very generous to the Holy Family during their stay, which is why they were blessed by the Lord Jesus and the Blessed Virgin. Until now the village of Mair is known everywhere for its prosperity.

Station No. 20: Mount Qosqam (Currently the location of Muharrak Monastery)

The Holy Family left Mair for Mount Qosqam, which is a mountainous region in which certain herbs such as Halpha grass grow. We used to burn these herbs and bury them in the mountains. This is why it is called Qosqam, which means the tomb of the Halpha. There is the Monastery of Ste. Virgin of Muharraq, which is the last and most important station, the one where the Holy Family spent more than 6 months. It was in this place that the angel appeared to St. Joseph and said to him, “  Get up; take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, because they are dead, those who wanted the life of the child. ”(Mt. 2:20).

The Church of the Blessed Virgin at the monastery is the place where the Holy Family stayed for all this time. At the time, it was a simple country house.

The altar of this church is the rock on which our Lord Jesus slept during this stay. When the Church was built, this rock became the altar on which the offering is consecrated. It is still there today.

Indeed, this is what the prophet Isaiah predicted, 700 years before the birth of Christ, saying: ”  That day there will be an altar for the Lord in the center of the land of Egypt …” ( Is 19:19). This prophecy has been fulfilled verbatim: This monastery and the altar are located exactly in the center of Egypt, and Egypt is located in the center of the world. Thus, these blessings are transmitted to the whole world.

This church was built at the end of the 1 st century AD and the Lord Himself accompanied by his apostles came down from heaven and He consecrated this altar with His Holy hand. This is why, when a patriarch wanted to consecrate the altar, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and informed him that the Lord Jesus had already consecrated the altar, with His blessed hand and that he no longer had need another consecration and this is how the Pope did not consecrate.

The church celebrates the consecration of the altar by the hand of our Lord Jesus Christ on the 6 th day of the Coptic month of Hatour, which corresponds to November 15, as it is mentioned in the Coptic Annex.

Station No. 21: The Monastery of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Mount of Assiut

When the Holy Family was warned that they had to return to their country of origin, they left Mount Koskam and headed south towards Mount Assiut, which was near the Nile and the embarkation dock for boats going north or south. The Holy Family had taken refuge in a cave at the top of this mountain for a few days, until the arrival of a boat bound for the North of Egypt.

This cave, which is inside the mount of Assiout located at almost 8 km from the city of Assiout, is vast and contains in its center a church. It is a cave that dates back to the time of the Pharaohs who had dug (in) the mountain and used the stones to (y) build their monuments. During the flood of the Nile, they took refuge there.

Finally, the Holy Family embarked on a boat heading north, to begin the return journey and fulfill the prophecy of Hosea (who had predicted): ” … And I called my son out of Egypt ”. (Hosea 11: 1)