Today 7 August, Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church begins its 15-day fast of the Holy Virgin, which ends on 22 August with the Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin. The fast is a very popular one with Copts many of whom, for their love of the Holy Virgin, fast three weeks instead of two or exercise deprivations even stricter than those placed by the Church.
The fast is also a season of spiritual rejoicing, with the majority of the congregation actively participating in the joyful services of prayer and praise held in churches every evening. Many make what may be described as minor pilgrimages to spots where the Holy Family—Baby Jesus, St Mary and St Joseph—took refuge on their biblical flight into Egypt from the face of Herod the King (Matthew 2) in the first century. Famous among these spots are the cave in the western mountain of Assiut, commonly known as Dronka, which is today surrounded by churches, a convent and guesthouses to host weary visitors; the church at Bayad on the Nile bank east of Beni Sweif; the church at Gabal al-Teir on the mountain east of Minya; and many others where special celebrations are held.
It is altogether a time of joy.
Watani wishes its readers a blessed fast.
Sketch by Wagdy Habashy
7 August 2017