Featured Photo: Shangyun Shen, Coptic monks walking on the boulevard in the Monastery of Dayr al-Muharrq.
Author: Shangyun Shen
Before the massive city of Cairo awoke from its slumber, we hopped on the minibus that would eventually take us all the way to the hinterland of Upper Egypt and back. We were embarking on a journey to visit the sites believed to be trodden by the Holy Family some 2000 years ago.
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Crossing the Nile from Samalut, just as later Christian pilgrims have done for centuries, the Holy Family went to Gabal al-Tayr (Mountain of the Birds in Arabic) on the East bank of the Nile. The location is so named because of the migratory birds resting on its top. It is also called Gabal al-Kaff or Mountain of the Palm. Such nomenclature is attributed to the tradition that when the Holy Family came here, a pharaonic temple stood on the place where the church erects today. The idols of the temple collapsed in the presence of the true God, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 19:1. Consequently, the pagan priests turned angry and intended to avenge. So the little Jesus put his hand on the mountain, thus left the imprint of his palm, and split it in two to have a cleavage for the Holy Family to hide from the angry priests. Other tradtion says that Jesus protected the Holy Family from a stone falling upon them and consequently left his hand print.
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Featured photo: Norbert Schiller, a priest blessed a child and two women at Kom Maria just outside the village of Dayr Abu Hinnis.
The text below is an Egypt Today article from the year 2000, when H.H. Pope Shenouda and President Mubarak were still in power.
Author: Cornelis Hulsman
Egypt’s oldest churches and monasteries have always attracted many hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every year.” The Coptic Orthodox Church, to which 90 percent of Egypt’s Christians belong, has convinced authorities and the public of the flight’s importance, and the Ministry of Tourism has since actively supported religious tourism, publishing a photo book and distributing it worldwide. In the past year dozens of articles have appeared in the Egyptian press about the project, and Nile TV broadcast an awareness-raising documentary during Pope John Paul’s recent visit. The American University in Cairo Press is also publishing a book about the Holy Family.
Continue reading Searching the Route: On the History and Present of the Holy Family Tradition →