In this room of the church lies the incorrupted body of St. Pishoy. People are praying, singing and touching it for whatever personal reasons. Prayer for the dead perhaps or religious beliefs.So I touched it too --- though I don't have much reason, I guess it feels good touching a person of history.more
Displaying old artefacts, the long refectory that was shown to us by Fr. Joakim was impressive. It has 5 domes, some have holes that allows natural light to come in which I mistook for round fluorescents. There's a very long platform that anciently serves as table for the monk's agape in the olden times.more
Fr. Joakim, the friendly monk at the monastery who gave us an unforgettable tour of the monastery let us see the ancient millhouse and we all take our turn trying the interesting old mill equipment there. It looks like it's good to work, but it just remain as an artefact now.more
The well of the martyrs is a well found in the 'Monastery of Al Anba Bishoy'. It refers to a fact that had happened in another monastery, Macarius monastery... 49 monks were killed there - and the killers, members of a Berber tribe, came to this well to wash their swords. The picture, as you can see, is that of the well.more
The Church of the Holy Virgin is the most important church in the Monastery of the Syrians. It's a rectangular church covered with the most amazing frescos one could imagine. most are incredibly well-preserved, too.There is a fresco of the three patriarchs(Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) enthroned in paradise, and one about the Ascension of Christ, with...more
The qasr of Saint Macarius is quite interesting: it is a three story building accessed by a drawbridge which - like in the other monasteries - is located on the first floor.On the ground floor there are the mills and well, and the store-rooms. On the first floor there is a Chapel dedicated to the Virgin and three 13th century sanctuaries.On the...more
The Church of the Elders is a little church/chapel inside the Monastery of Saint Macarius. This is one of the most sacred places of the Monastery, as it is the burial ground of the 49 martyr monks that were killed by the Berbers in the past. The swords used to cut their throats were then brought to the Monastery of Saint Bishoi and washed in the...more
The Qasr is a tall-looking building right by the Monastery's entrance. It's free standing and connected top the rest of the monastery by a drawbridge: this is the fortress in which the monks used to hide during the Berbers' invasions. Inside the fortress there was always a church; in this case the church of Michael the Archaengel.more
Although there are some people that swear that you can get to Wadi Natrun by public transportation, this is not entirely true. You can get to some nearby town by public transportation, but then you need a car with driver to head out to the different monasteries - and not all are next to each other. There's no eating facilities at the monasteries, either... so it is really worth it to pay some extra pounds to rent a car from cairo: you can then visit all the four monasteries, and be brought to the cairo-alexandria road for some food (the highway rest house is more than adequate)
Right outside Al Anba Bishoy Monastery there's a little row of shopos: one sells food (possibly to the monastery), one sells olives (possibly grown by the monks) and another - the largest - sells beautiful crafts made by the monks... religious craft as well as some pieces of home furniture - all carved in wood and richly decorated.
What to buy: we fell in love with some wonderful little tbles. Unfortunately they were still too big to carry home.
What to pay: about 100 dollars
Before I went to Egypt I knew little about the Coptic Church... now I still know very little. Coptic monks dress in a long black robe (it's the symbol that they have died from this world), wear a long beard, and a black cap with white coptic crosses.
There are coptic priest, too, and they are allowed to marry - but only monks can become patriarchs.
A patriarch is called "Anba" (before his name)and the priests "Abouna", and they both mean "Father".
All the monks we have met, I ought to add, were extremely learned and witty people - willing to talk everything - from religion to history to traveling.
Another significant detail: they are the only people in Egypt that did not annoyed us for a backsheesh, and also the ones who gave us the best explanations and visits. In the end, it's the people who got more money from us...
Next to Saint Bishoi Monasteries there's another monastery-in-the-making - or better an old monastery (probably the Monastery of Moses the Black, Deir Anba Mussa al-Aswad) that is being restored and retrieved from the sand.
This restration started in 1971 by the Patriarch Shenouda the Third: he gave it to Bishop Sarabamun to be run. So far new land has been bought, the churches restored, and some cells made ready.
There are also going to be retreat houses, a residence for the Coptic Patriarch, a reception area, an auditorium and conference rooms.
The Monastery of the Syrians is called in Arabic Deir as-Suriani: it's the smallest and most compact of the 4 Wadi Natrun Monasteries. It's very near the Saint Bishoi monastery (500 metres) but it was settled two centuries later, after an internal dispute about the importance of the Virgin Mary. Saint Bishoi spent a long time here, locked in a tiny...more
The Monastery of St. Macarius is the most difficult to visit of the four monasteries of Wadi Natrun. it's normally closed to the public, unless you have made prior arrangments in Cairo... where, I don't know. We were incredibly lucky - when we arrived there was a Coptic family (who had emigrated to the States) who was visiting, so we were admitted...more
Wadi Natrun is a semi-arid plain about 100 kilometres from Cairo, roughly off the Cairo/Alexandria road. It's home to 4 wonderful and old coptic monasteries: Al Baramus, As Suriani, Al Anba Bishoy, Abu Maqar. In the past, however, there were more than 50 monasteries - which have since then been destroyed by Berber tribes.They are all built...more