The

Holy Family



Old Cairo (The Church of Abo Serga “St. Sergius”)

The area now called Old Cairo, known as Misr El Kadima, is among the important locations visited by the Holy Family where the spiritual impact of their presence is most felt still; though their stay was brief, for the Governor of what was then Fustat – enraged by the tumbling down of idols at Jesus’s approach – “Behold, the Lord rides on swift cloud, and will come into Egypt, and the idols of Egypt, will totter at his presence, and the heart of Egypt will melt in the midst of it” (Isaiah 19:1) sought to kill the Child.
But they took shelter from his wrath in cave above which, in later years, the Church of Abu Serga (St. Sergius) was built.
This, and the whole area of the Fort of Babylon, is a destination of pilgrimage the world. An air of piety and devotion pervades the whole district.

Wadi El Natroun

Their trail of Holy Family proceeded after crossing the Rosetta branch of the Nile to the western Delta, and heading south into Wadi el-Natroun (then called Al Asqeet) in desert expaneses of Wadi el-Natroun became the site of anchoritic settlement and, later, of many monasteries, in spiritual commemoration of the Holy Family’s passage through the Valley.


Virgin Mary Church – Maady

After their short, but all-too-felt, stay in Old Cairo, the Holy Family moved in a southerly direction, reaching the modern Cairo suburb of Maady which, in earliest Pharaonic times, was on outlying district of Memphis, the capital of Egypt then; and, at Maady, they boarded a sailing-boat which carried them up the Nile towards southern Egypt.
The historic church built upon the spot from which they embarked, also dedicated to the Virgin, is further identified by the denominative, ‘Al-Adaweya’, the Virgin’s Church ‘of the Ferry’.
(In fact, the name of that now modern suburb, Maady, derives from the Arabic word which means ‘the Crossing Point’).
The stone steps leading down to the River’s bank, and believed to have been used by the Holy Family, are accessible to pilgrims through the Church courtyard.
An event of miraculous import occurred on Friday the 3rd of the Coptic month of Baramhat – the 12th of March-1976 A.D. A Holy Bible of unknown provenance was carried by the lapping ripples of the Nile to the bank below the Church. It was open to the page of Isaiah 19:25 the page declaring, “Blessed be Egypt My People”. the Bible is now behind glass in the Sanctuary of the Virgin in the Church for all to see.

Gabal Al Tair (Virgin Mary Monastery)

On towards the south they went from Bahnassa to Samalout and crossed the Nile again from that town to the spot on the east bank of the River where the Monastery of the Virgin now stands upon Gabal El-Tair (Bird Mountain) east of Samalout, 2kms out of Meadeyat Beni Khaled. It is known by this name (Gabal El-Tair) because thousands of birds gather there. The Holy Family rested in the cave which is now located inside the ancient church there. Gabal El-Tair is also called Gabal El-Kaf (Palm Mountain). Coptic tardition maintains that, as the Holy Family rested in the shade of the Mountain, Jesus stretched His little hand to hold back a rock which was about to detach itself from the mountain-side and fall upon them.
The imprint go His palm is still visible.

Mount Qussqam (Asset) and Al-Muharraq Monastery.

Now it was time for the Holy Family to set out for what, arguably, the most meaningful destination of all in the land of Egypt, the place where there would be “an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt”. Gabal (Mount) Qussqam, and stands in the Governorate of Assiut. The Monastery of Al-Muharraq nestles against the western foothills where the Holy Family remained just over six months. Their time was spent mainly in a cave which became, in the Coptic era, the altar of the Church of Virgin Mary, built at the western end of the Monastery compound. The altar stone was the resting place of the Child Jesus during the months He dwell there. The whole area-the Monastery and its surrounding – is redolent of the Coptic Christian ethos. So hallowed are its intimations, that Copts of Egypt named it the Second Bethlehem.
“In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt”. (Isaiah 19:19).
It was here, at the very spot where Al-Muharraq Monastery stands, that the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, and said “Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and go into the land Israel; for they are dead which sought the young Child’s life” (Matthew 2:20 & 21).