According to the tradition, having crossed the Nile at al-Roda after a short stay in Bir Sahaba, the Holy Family reached Al–Ashmunayn, once named Hermopolis Magna, a prosperous metropolis on the west bank of Nile. Today only ruins of the colossal Corinthian columns of the ancient basilica, dated back to the 5th century, remain intact.

At the excavation site, one will see the sanctuary and the baptismal font. The original church was built on the ruin of a late pharaonic or perhaps Ptolemaic temple. Near the church ruin is a crumbled agora, Greek marketplace. This indicates that the old basilica stood in the center of Hermopolis Magna.

Al-Ashmunin is also a place of importance with  regard to the Holy Family Tradition, or more specifically, it was the first Egyptian city to be associated with the Tradition. For this reason, it didn’t come as a surprise to see that a church in the town claimed to have sheltered the Holy Family 2000 years ago.  The church was dedicated to the Holy Virgin and St. Wadamon, a martyr depicted in the Coptic Synaxarium, a compilation of hagiographies dated to approximately the 12th century. The martyrology narrates that this saint visited the Holy Family in al-Ashmunin and that the Christ Child blessed him by making his house as a place of worship.

Al-Ashmunayn in the year 2000
Al-Ashmunayn in the year 2017

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