The advent of the Holy Family to Egypt seeking refuge is an event of great significance to history of the Coptic Church and the history of Egypt.
“Behold, the Lord rides on a 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). That was the divinely inspired prediction of the effect the Holy Family was to have on Egypt and Egyptians, as prescribed in the biblical book of Isaiah.
“Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word, for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him”. (Matthew 2:13). And this was how the refuge journey started.
The treacherous trails The Holy Family followed in their passage across Sinai and their subsequent travels within Egypt were chronicled by Pope Theophilus, 23rd Patriarch of Alexandria (384-412 AD). In his chronicles, the places where the Holy Family visited were identified, starting from Farma midway between ElArish and present day Port Said and ending in Assiut in upper Egypt.
In every stop the Holy Family made deep into Egypt’s heartland a monastery was built most famous of which are Anba Beshoy Monastery at Wadi ElNatroun, Virgin Mary Church at Zaitoun, Church of Abu Sefein, the Church of Abu Serga, Al Moallaka Church in Cairo, ElBarsha Monastery at Minia, and the Monastery of Al-Muharraq at Assiut.
On the 24th day of the Coptic month of Bashans, which corresponds to the 1st of June, the Coptic Church celebrates the entry of the Holy Family into Egypt. The Holy Family duration of stay in Egypt was most likely to have lasted three and half years. The Coptic Museum in Cairo includes rare icons which give valuable insights into this fascinating and inspiring journey.
On October 4th 2017, His Holiness Pope Francis blessed the icon of the Holy Family journey to Egypt in Rome in an effort to promote the route of Holy Family in Egypt as an important pilgrimage destination.
To learn more about the history of the Egyptian Coptic Church and the Holy Family journey to Egypt kindly explore the links below.