The Coptic Convent of Philopater Mercurius (known in Arabic as Abu-Seifein, or the One with the Two Swords) in Sidi Kreir on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast some 40km west of Alexandria, has agreed to move its northern fencing wall 15 metres inland to make way for expansion of the coastal road.
The coastal road runs some 1,021 kilometres along Egypt’s northern coast on the Mediterranean, starting at Port Said in the east, through to Alexandria, and on to Salloum on the western border. Throughout recent years, the road has been seeing largely increased traffic, which drove the government to expand its width along the length of 340km west of Alexandria.
Buildings alongside the road, which would have obstructed the expansion, were removed for the sake of public benefit. A number of mosques were pulled down in the process.
Among the establishments encroaching on the area needed for the road expansion was the convent of Abu-Seifein. The convent buildings are much further inland, but part of the gardens included within the convent’s northern fencing wall have to be removed and the wall moved inland to make place for the road expansion. The government asked the convent to move for cooperation with that matter.
In a statement issued by the convent on 19 October 2020, and signed by Mother Superior Tamav Kyriah, the Convent announced it was moving its 134metre-long wall 15 metres inland, south of the present wall. The construction department of the Egyptian Armed Forces which supervises the road expansion project, will execute the task, and will erect all alternative building needed in lieu of the demolished structure.
The statement read, “Within the scope of the Egyptian government’s road projects which we fully appreciate, the Armed Forces’ Engineering Authority supervising these projects will move the northern fence of the convent some 15 metres [southward].
“We thank in advance the engineering authority for the alternative structures it will be implementing.
“We pray for our beloved Egypt, and for the success of these projects.”
The Abu-Seifein Convent was built in the 1990s on grounds that stretched some 60 feddans ( 1 feddan = 4200sq.m.) The nuns cultivate the land and generate revenue from selling its produce and agri products, in addition to their hand-made goods. Besides the nuns’ living quarters, the convent includes a guest house, clinic, outlets to sell the agricultural produce and the other products, as well as three churches consecrated in the names of the Holy Virgin, St Mercurius, and Archangel Mikhail.
20 October 2020