Wadi al-Natrun

The Holy Family continued their flight, went further west and crossed the Nile. According to some accounts the Holy Family saw Wadi al-Natrun, about half way between Cairo and Alexandria, from afar and blessed it, according to others they indeed visited the place.

In the Wadi Al- Natrun is a village called Al-Homra, which is about 26 km. off the desert road between Cairo and Alexandria. Before reaching Wadi Al-Natrun, the Holy Family passed by this desert village where the infant Jesus caused a well to be opened in the ground. This sweet water well, which is called unto today “Bir Mariam” or (Mary’s well), is incredibly located among lakes saturated with the natron salt. The well had been neglected for many years but is now being restored.

In their heyday in the 5th and 6th centuries, the many monasteries of the Wadi Al-Natrun sustained thousands of monks. They were established in spiritual commemoration of the Holy Family passage through the valley. For this reason this area was called ‘Wadi Sheheet’, meaning the place where hearts are weighed. Today four large monasteries near each other – and occupied with monks and hermits, have remained. These are the monasteries of St. Macarius, St. Bishoy, Al-Syrian and Al -Baramous.

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