A very important Coptic Monastery in Upper Egypt is Deir al-Moharrak (also transliterated
as Dayr al-Muharraqah). It is considered to be a second Bethlehem on the part of Coptic Christians.
They maintain that the Holy Family stayed here for 6 months because the local people were very
kind to them. Later, the altar of the monastery's church was built exactly where the baby Jesus
had slept. This is also the tradition that this is the location where the Angel of God appeared
to Joseph (Matthew 2:20) and said "Arise, return to Israel."
Abouna Phlexinios served as our guide to the monastery. He noted that "anyone who comes
with a pure heart receives comfort in this place because it is where the Holy Family was
comforted. It is interesting that the Coptic Tradition reports that the Holy Family was
accompanied by a woman named Salome who had served as Mary's mid-wife.
Another tradition maintains that Jesus returned here and consercrated the altar of the monastery.
In 2001, the Church of St. Mary was being restored, but we did spend considerable time in a
later chapel dedicated to St. George. The monastery includes a tower structure with a chapel
of St. Michael in the upper portion.
The Sunday before Palm Sunday is a very popular day for baptisms at the monastery. The current
population of the monastery is approximately 110 monks with 100 to 200 dependents involved in the reconstructions
and farming activities sponsored by the monastery.
Mass being said in Church of St. George
Kimkim (Coptic, "Cymbals")
Forked Arm Cross
Lock in the tower
Mummy of Abouna Michael Boharri (d. 1923)
Painted hiakal curtain
Cross design on a wooden beam
Rosette design on a wooden beam
Webpage constructed 17 November 2008