Italian pilgrims visit desert monasteries, hold Mass there

23-06-2018 10:02 PM

Nasser Sobhy - Dina Sidhom

Italian pilgrims visit desert monasteries, hold Mass there

The Italian group of pilgrims currently on a visit to the sites on the Holy Family Trail in Egypt, have visited two monasteries in Wadi al-Natroun in the Western Desert: the monastery of the Holy Virgin, also known as the monastery of the Syrians (al-Surian); and the monastery of Anba Bishoi.

The group of 50 Italian pilgrims led by Bishop Lino Fumagalli of Viterbo; and Anba Barnaba, Coptic Bishop of Rome and Torino; were warmly received at al-Surian monastery by the Abbot, Bishop Anba Matta’os; and the monks. They were guided around the monastery then attended Catholic Mass, officiated by Bishop Lino Fumagalli, in the nave of the 4th-century monastery church.

It was a surprise for the pilgrims to be able to attend the first ever Catholic Mass in an Orthodox monastery in Egypt, and was as such a cause for great joy to all. Bishop Fumagalli expressed happiness at the occasion and thanked the Coptic Orthodox Church, and Anba Matta’os and the monk assembly, a number of whose members stood by during Mass, for their generosity. He prayed for the unity of Christians and for Christ’s spiritual power and blessing.

Governor of Beheira, Nadia Abdu, made everyone very happy when she made a surprise visit to the monastery to welcome the pilgrims. Wadi al-Natroun falls within the boundaries of Beheira Governorate, and Governor Abdu has always enjoyed courteous, affectionate relations with the Church and Beheira Metropolitan, Anba Pachomius.

The pilgrims then headed to the monastery of Anba Bishoi, which is adjacent to that of al-Surian. Anba Bishoi’s was where Pope Tawadros II took orders, and is a monastery that has given the Coptic Church three patriarchs.

The monks were very happy to welcome the pilgrims. The visit included a guided tour through the 4th-century monastery, its old church, well, keep, and the relics of the saints kept at the church.

The visitors were treated to a short history of Coptic monasticism, and visited the shrine of Pope Shenouda III who was patriarch from 1971 to 2012 and is seen as a modern-day saint, and who is buried at Anba Bishoi’s.

Watani International

21 June 2018

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