About

The Holy Family Tradition

The land of Egypt plays a tremendously important role in both the Bible and Qur’an. Despite the differences between the two religions, the Christ Child and his Holy Family are venerated by adherents of both faiths. One of the timeless, charming stories about this family is their fugitive journey into the land of Egypt. The Tradition starts with Matthew 2, when an angel instructs Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt where they stayed until the death of king Herod who had sought to kill Jesus. The Bible is ambiguous about the locations they visited, but through visions and miracles the route they followed was revealed to the Coptic community. Along the road, most of the locations host active Christian communities from ancient times that all form a part of the living Holy Family Tradition.

The Holy Family Project

Academic work on the Holy Family tradition began with the research of Cornelis Hulsman, Drs. for the book Be Thou There; the Journey of the Holy Family in Egypt. This research mission was transferred to the Arab-West Foundation since it is a remarkable example of a living Christian tradition in a predominantly Muslim society, thus illustrating how Christians and Muslims can cooperate together harmoniously.
Launched by Arab West Report, the Holy Family Project aims to promote the Coptic Holy Family tradition on a global scale. Our past work includes an English language digital database, a book on the topic, as well as this website! Right now, a new book project is underway, and we are engaged in efforts to ensure that the pilgrim road of the Tradition can obtain EU and UNESCO’s recognition in the long run.

Our Team

Cornelis Hulsman

MA in Development Sociology, University of Leiden
Deputy Chairman Center for Arab-West Understanding
First arrival in Egypt in 1976, long time resident in Egypt
Author of many articles and reports about the Holy Family tradition


Shen Shangyun

MA in Middle Eastern Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Assistant Researcher at Center for Arab-West Understanding