On 1 June, the Feast of the Entry of the Holy Family in Egypt, photographs of Mass that celebrated the occasion at an archaeological site in Rafah seven years ago went viral on Facebook.
The photos were posted by Tassoni (literally “Sister”) Mariam Milad, widow of Father Mina Aboud Sharubim who was pastor of the church of Mar-Mina in the North Sinai city of al-Arish, and was shot dead by Islamist terrorists as he stood on the sidewalk before a church-owned building in July 2013. Fr Mina is considered among the martyrs killed for their Christian faith.
“Today, seven years ago,” Tassoni Mariam wrote, “we prayed the Liturgy at an archaeological site in al-Farma, the spot farthest east on Egypt’s border with the historical land of Israel. It was the spot where the Holy Family—the child Jesus, His mother Mary, and St Joseph—crossed over into Egypt during their Biblical flight from the face of Herod the king. Tradition has it that the Holy Family rested at Farma for 14 days.” Tassoni recalled that that day, Anba Qozman, Bishop of North Sinai, presided over Mass to celebrate the feast. “We felt so blessed,” she wrote. I told Abouna (Father) Mina: ‘Let’s pray here every year,’ and he replied: ‘We’ll see what God wills’.”
The Feast of the Entry of the Holy Family in Egypt is an event close to the hearts of Copts; they celebrate in their churches with festive Vespers service on its eve and Mass early on the feast day.
This year, with COVID-19 cautionary restrictions and social distancing in place, churches are closed. Pope Tawadros II honoured the occasion be celebrating Mass at the church of the Holy Virgin in Maadi, on the Nile bank. The church is built on the spot where the Holy Family is believed to have boarded a boat that took them south to Upper Egypt.
4 June 2020