Holy Family in Egypt
Sunday، 22 July 2018 - 05:06 PM
In old times, there were three paths that a traveler could pursue from Palestine to Egypt. Sources indicate that the Holy Family, when they entered Egypt, did not follow any of these three ancient paths. But they took another route unknown to the soldiers of Herod who were chasing Virgin Mary to execute her baby. It is also the reason that the Holy Family changed its place of residence in Egypt from the north, to the south, east and west. It was God's destiny that Herod should die before he could reach his evil goal. God restored the Holy Family to their home safe and secure. To let the world reveal the following pages of the three Celestial Beliefs.
All Eastern and Western sources agreed on that the means of transportation that carried Virgin Mary and her son was a donkey, while Joseph tagged along according to the Eastern traditions. This picture was not strange in the Bible, since the Exodus described the return of the Prophet Moses from the country of the Midianites to Egypt.
“So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey, and returned to the land of Egypt. And Moses took God's staff in his hand.” (Exodus 4:20). Salome the old midwife who also accompanied. The Holy Family passed three locations in North Sinai, eighteen locations in Nile Valley and Delta, visited Wadi Al Natroun in the Western desert, Jabal Al Tair in the Eastern desert and crossed the main River Nile’s course four times.
The stages and steps of the Holy Family’s journey in Egypt were as follows:
1- Rafah: it has been a border city since the ancient ages; located 45 Km east from the city of Arish. In the ruins of the city, remnants in connection with Christianity were found.
2- Arish: a city located at the Mediterranean coast. Remnants of churches were found in its streets.
3- Al Faramah: it is an important archeological site, port and commercial center. It is considered one of the monastic centers. Being the last place where the Holy Family passed in Sinai; increased the importance of this city.
4- Tel Basta: one of the ancient Egyptian cities, was called the city of the Gods. Located near the city of Zagazig. It was entered by the Holy Family in 24th. of Pashons , sat under a tree where the Child Jesus asked to drink. However, the people of the city didn’t receive the Holy Family well, which made Virgin Mary saddened. So, Joseph the carpenter, took a piece of iron hit the ground next to the tree, where water exploded from a spring, and they all drank from it.
5- Zagazig: During the presence of the Holy Family in Tel Basta, a person called 'Qallum' passed by and called them to his house where he was generous and hospitable. When they arrived at the house of Qallum, he apologized that his wife was ill and has been in bed for 3 years. "Now your wife, Sarah, will not be sick." said the child Jesus, At the same time; Sarah went to the door, welcoming the child and his mother, and asked them to stay longer because their home was blessed with the boy’s presence. The soldiers were soon ordered to search for the boy in every corner of the city. So Qallum feared the child Jesus will be hurt and advised Virgin Mary to flee the city at night because of the lack of military activity. In the evening, the Holy Family prepared to leave the place, thanked Qallum and his wife Sarah and the child Jesus blessed their home.
6- Mostorod (Al Mahamah): After leaving Zagazig, the Holy Family arrived at a place at the wilderness, and settled under a tree, and the word (Al Mahamah) meaning of the place of bathing. The city was named so because Virgin Mary found a spring of water where she bathed Jesus Christ and washed his clothes. This place is called (Al Mahamah) to this very day, and the current church is named: The Church of Virgin Mary in Mostorod. The church was dedicated by Patriarch Mark III (73) in 1185 AD, and it still exists until now. A spiritual renaissance is held on the occasion of the consecration of the Church on the seventh and eighth of Paoni corresponding to the fourteenth and the fifteenth of June of each year, this brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to seek blessing and celebrate this occasion. The Holy Family passed by this place again on its way back to the Holy Land.
7- Belbeis: After the Holy Family left Mostorod they arrived to Belbeis which is currently the city of Belbeis belonging to the Al Sharqia governorate and 55Km away from Cairo. There, the Holy Family was shaded under a tree known as the "Tree of Mary". Later, Belbeis became an episcopate. The Holy Family also passed by Belbeis in its return. There is now a church in Belbeis named after the great martyr Mar Gerges.
8- Samannoud: After Belbeis, the Holy Family headed north to the town of Minya Jinnah, now known as Minya Samannoud, where they crossed the sea to reach Samannoud. An ancient tradition said that Virgin Mary participated in preparing bread for a good lady from the people of Samannoud and child Jesus blessed her bread. Attributed to this story, there is a Granite Majour – which is more than a large deep dish for baking bread - in the church where the water is placed after eating from the Holy Sacrament to be a blessing for the visitors. An old church was built there by name of Virgin Mary; it was destroyed and now rebuilt on its ruins a church by the name of “Virgin Mary and martyr Abanoub in Samannoud”. There is a cabin in that Church containing the remains of martyr Abanoub in the same area containing the remains of eight thousand martyrs.
9- Alberlus: When the Holy Family went out of Samannoud, they continued to walk west to the area of Alberlus and landed in the village called " The Fig Tree" where its people did not receive them well, so they walked until they reached a village called "Almtala"; received by a man there who brought them what they need with great joy.
10- Sakha: currently city of Sakha; where the Holy Family felt thirst and did not find any water. The Virgin made her beloved son stand on a pillar base stone, where his insteps sunk in the stone and left their imprint. Water came from the stone and they took their fill. The area was known as the “Bikha Issus "which means the heel of Jesus.
11- Wadi Al-Natroun: After Sakha, the Holy Family crossed the western branch of the Nile until they reached Wadi Al-Natroun, the land of Sheehit. The child Jesus blessed this place and now it has four monasteries: Monastery of Saint Makarius, Monastery of Saint Bishoy, Paromeos Monastery and The Syrian Monastery.
12- Matareya and Ain Shams: the French scientist "Emilino" said that the name of Matareya was not mentioned in the Synaxarium except for the reason of this journey. Since, the Holy Family shaded under a tree in Matareya, known until now by the name Mariam’s Tree. The child Jesus burst out a water spring and blessed it. Then the Virgin washed Jesus clothes, poured the water on the ground that sprouted a beautiful aromatic plant known as Balsam. It is added to perfumes and the Holy Mairuon Oil used in the church rituals. It is known that the original Virgin Mary tree, which the Holy Family rested under has weakened and fell in 1656 AD. Some of the Franciscan monks gathered the branches and twigs of the tree. The tree that present now is only due to the year 1672 AD has its roots from the first tree.
13- Al Fustat: After the arrival of the Holy Family to an area in ancient Egypt known as Babylonian where they inhabited a cave that is now located in the archaeological church of Abi Serja; now known as the church of the martyrs Sergius and Wakhus. It seemed that the Holy Family could not stay in that area more than only a few days. There is an ancient well beside the cave and inside the aquatic structure of the church. This holy grotto is a small chapel under the ground below the middle of the apostles and is a part of the temple structure. This holy cave can be accessed by two ways through staircases; one from the hall of the southern temple of the church and the other from the center of the hall in the northern temple. The length of the holy cave is about 20 feet and 15 feet in width without any windows, and below the floor of the Church of Abu Serja by at least 21 feet, and the floor of the church itself goes down from the street level by about 13 feet.
14- Al Ma’adi: the Holy Family arrived from Al Fustat to the modern-day Al Ma’adi and stayed there for a while and there is now a church named after Virgin Mary in this area.
15- Meet Raheena: after the Ma’adi, the Holy Family arrived to a place known as the city of Memphis that is now Meet Raheena near the Badrashin province of Giza. From there to the south of Upper Egypt through the Nile to the Monastery of the Gernus near Magaghah. The Holy Family took off in a sailing boat through the river Nile going to the south of the country (Upper Egypt), from the spot where the Church of Virgin Mary is now known. The name of Ma’adi came from the crossing of the Holy Family to the Nile on its journey to Upper Egypt. The stone staircase that carried the Holy Family is still present and it has a shrine that opens from the church courtyard.
16- Al Bahnasa district: It is one of the oldest villages in Upper Egypt. The monastery of the Gernus is located 10 km west of Ashnin with a church in the name of the Virgin Mary. Inside the church, there is a water well next to the western wall; the church tradition says that the Holy Family drank from it during its journey.
17- Mount of Birds - Jabal Al Tair: From Al Bahnasa going south to the town of Sammalut, and from there they crossed the river Nile east to Jabal Al Tair where the monastery of Virgin Mary is now present, 2 km south of the ferry of Beni Khalid. Tradition said that during the journey of the Holy Family on the Nile shore a large rock from mountain was about to fall on them but the child Jesus extended his hand and prevented the rock from falling. His palm left an imprint on the rock, and now the mountain is known as Jabal Al Kef – Palm Mountain-.It has been established that there is a tree in the area called Al Abid tree. A special route was constructed to the monastery of Virgin Mary at Jabal al-Tair, from the new Eastern Egyptian Aswan road at the Sammalut Cement Factory. The monastery is located on the top of Jabal Al Tair adjacent to the Nile. It is one of the most important stations of the Holy Family in Egypt after the church of Abu Serja and Deir Al Muharraq.
18- Ashmonein town: From the Mount of Birds the Holy Family crossed the Nile from the eastern to the western side where the town of Ashmonein. The child Jesus carried out many miracles in this town.
19- Dayrout Al Sherif Village: After the holy family left the Ashmonein town, they went south to the village of Dayrout Al Sherif, where they lived for several days. There is a church in the area named after Virgin Mary.
20- Al Qawsiya: When the Holy Family entered Al Qawsiya, the people of the city did not welcome them very well. The old city was destroyed. It is not the present town of Al Qawsiya, but a town near it.
21- The village of Mir: After the holy family moved from the city of Al Qawsiya, they walked 8 km west of Al Qawsiya until they reached the village of Mir, where its people honored the Holy Family and the child Jesus blessed them.
22- Mount Qusakam (Deir Al Muharraq): The Holy Family moved from the village of Mir to Mount Qusakam, 12 km west of Al Qawsiya. It is one of the most important stations of the Holy Family in Egypt. This monastery is now known as the Monastery of Virgin Mary because of its glorious history. It became the center of excellence and honor to the extent that it is called the second Bethlehem; because it was the sacred place where the Holy Family was a resident in more than any other place, for a period of six months and ten days. The hall where the Holy family stayed became the temple in which the Holy masses and prayers are held in the monastery. This hall was where the Lord of Glory, as a child performed wonders, miracles and healing signs. West of the cave became a church engraved in the stones of the west mountain, where Virgin Mary used to shelter sometimes. Now, the Christians go there for blessing. Originally, the monastery of Virgin Mary was built in the hall where She lived and the cave which became the temple of the ancient church. That’s why Virgin Mary is the patron saint for the monks and the people of the area around the monastery. Offering vows in Her name, Virgin Mary does miracles and wonders to her lovers. And so the place became holy and for this; it is called the second Jerusalem or the olive mountain.
23- Mount Drenka: From Mount Qusakam, the Holy Family traveled south until they reached Mount Assiut where Drenka monastery is located. The Holy Family stayed inside an ancient cave engraved in the mountain. The Drenka Monastery is the last station where the Holy Family took refuge in Egypt. The monastery is one of the most important tourist attractions in Egypt, where thousands of foreign and Egyptian visitors visit throughout the year to learn about the place where "The Holy Family procession has ended." The monastery of the Virgin Mary began its activities since the spread of Christianity in Egypt. The region has many monasteries for monks and nuns, and the most famous of those who lived in this area is St. John of Assiut. The Monastery of Virgin Mary is located at the western mountain of Assiut at a height of hundred meters from the surface of the agricultural land, and is eight kilometers away from Assiut by cut. A distance covered by the car in a quarter of an hour. To go to the monastery the visitor passes Assiut, goes west until facing Mount Assiut, then heading south for a distance of three kilometers where the town of Drenka is located. From there, three kilometers to the village of Drenka then heading one kilometer towards the ascending road to the mountain. At the end, the visitor reaches the doors of the monastery, and the room or cave, which was inhabited by the Holy Family in the first church not only in Egypt, but in the whole world.
The return of the Holy Family from central Egypt (Assiut) to Palestine:
Many sources recall that the Holy Family took the same path as the previously mentioned one, returning to the western shore at the Church of Virgin Mary in Ma’adi, then passing through ancient Egypt, Matareya and Ain Shams, back to Mostorod (Al Mahamah), then to the city of (Lintopolis) that is currently the ruins of Tel Yahoudeyya near Shebin al-Qanater and from there went to Belbeis, Al Basta, Faqqous, Faramah and Arish and then to Gaza and from there to Nazareth.
Egypt is the land of prophecies and celestial messages:
All the religious and historical facts confirm that the choice of God to Egypt to be the second home to Jesus in his childhood was for Egypt to be blessed by Him. From the beginning of time, Egypt had its land blessed by the advent of the prophets and saints. For example, the Prophet Idris, Abraham, Father of the Prophets, Joseph the Righteous, Prophet Jacob and the twelve tribes, Prophet Moses the Holy Family.
Then Mark the Evangelist entered Egypt in 43 AD, founded the first Christian theological school in Alexandria. Egypt presented the gift of monasticism to the Christian world. The monasticism is an authentic Egyptian tradition. The Egyptian Saint Anthony the Great is the first monk in the world and also the father of monastic family. He was born in 251 AD in the village of Qmn Al Arous – Al wasetta center of Assiut. the monasticism then moved from Egypt to Palestine and Mesopotamia, Syria, Italy, France, Central Asia, Greece and then to the whole world. Centuries later, Egypt was the womb that embraced our Ptophet Muhammad Peace be Upon Him. In 642 AD, Egypt opened its gates to the Islamic religion, which protected home, property and places of worship and guaranteed the freedom and the sanctity of belief.