Traveling westward the Holy Family came to the place now known as Sakha, a town 135 km. north of Cairo. In Sakha we visit the Church of the Holy Virgin, probably built on the location of one of the four prominent monasteries in medieval times in this area. Only one of these monasteries, Dimyana, survived unto this day.
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Dimyana is a mixed Christian-Muslim village, with a convent built on a spot where according to the tradition, the Holy Family passed through the nearby area of Burullus. The name of the convent goes back to St. Dimyana who chose the trodden place of the Holy Family to worship God, and where she was martyred along with 40 virgins during the persecution of the Roman Emperor Diocletian (284-305).
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After Daqadus, the Holy Family fled to Samannud which was once an important city in pharaonic and Ptolemaic times. It is said that the Holy Family stayed here between 14 to 17 days as they were warmly welcomed by the local population. We need to go through a narrow street to reach the famous Church of St. Apa Nub; a twelve year old 3rd century martyr. The church treasures his relics which are preserved in a tube and covered with spices and perfumes, following the way Jesus’ body was wrapped with spices: “And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.” [Mark 16:1]. The tube containing the relics is wrapped into a scarlet colored piece of cloth with the saint’s picture on it and is kept in a shrine. Occasionally priests remove the tube from the shrine in order to give the pilgrims blessings from it.
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Daqadus comes from the Coptic ‘ti Theotokos’, which means ‘the mother of God’. Local Christians believe that Daqadus is a place where the Holy Family was well received. For that reason, Daqadus became a blessed site throughout the ages.
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According to tradition, at the moment the Holy Family entered the town, a funeral procession of a widow’s son was just leaving and Jesus felt compassion for her and raised him from death, a story that resembles the resurrection of the son of a widow in Naim [Luke 7:11-17]. On the other hand, the Armenian Infancy Gospel accounts that the Holy Family stayed here for six months until the Christ Child reached the age of 2.
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Musturud is actually part of greater Cairo, on the agricultural road from Cairo to Bilbays. Here we visit the Church of the Holy Virgin at Musturud in which the Holy Family found shelter after a long day of traveling. We will also see the cave where they rested and the well that Jesus created, which the Holy Family used for drinking, washing and bathing, that is why it is called al–Mahamma (bathing place).
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We visit the magnificent Coptic Orthodox Church of the Holy Virgin and Saint John in Zaqaziq. The church, which is one of the most beautiful churches in Egypt, was built by Greek Orthodox Christians in 1925 and sold to the Coptic Orthodox Church who celebrated their first Holy Liturgy there in 1995.
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