The Monastery of St. Machary the Grand and Deir Abu Machari is located about 92 km north-west of Cairo and on the Cairo-Alexandria highway in Wadi El Natrun, Beheira governorate, Egypt. A group of monks who wanted peace and loneliness built it in the fourth century.
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The monastery was established in 360 AD. by Saint Macarius of Egypt, who was the spiritual father of more than 4,000 monks of different nationalities. It has been continuously inhabited by monks since its founding in the 4th century, that is, several Christian saints and early Church fathers were monks in the Monastery of Saint Macarius.
From almost near time, the monastery entered an era of restoration, both spiritual and architectural, with the arrival of twelve monks under the spiritual leadership of Father Matta El Meskeen. These monks had spent the last ten years living together totally isolated from the world, in the desert caves of Wadi El Rayan, some 50 km (31 miles) south of Fayoum, until they were ordered to leave Wadi El Rayan and head to the Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great to restore it.
Under Pope Shenouda III, after fourteen years of constant activity both in reconstruction and in spiritual and architectural renewal, the monastic community at the Monastery of Saint Macarius has about one hundred monks.
The Monastery of San Macario maintains spiritual, academic and fraternal relations with so many monasteries abroad. Including the Chevetogne Monastery in Belgium, the Transfiguration Monastery in France, the Bose Monastic Community in Italy, Deir El Harf in Lebanon and the Convent of the Incarnation in England.
This Church does not recognize the primacy of the Patriarch of Constantinople, nor is it in communion with the European Orthodox churches. It has its origin in the preaching of Saint Mark, the Evangelist, who brought Christianity to Egypt in the time of Emperor Nero. It has its own Pope, its holy book is the Bible and its own songs.
The church and the refectory or dining room of the monastery have huge circular domes and other square ones made of bricks, with a skylight at the top to illuminate the spaces.
The woodwork on the door, walls and the iconostasis has an impressive detail of delicacy inlaid with shell or mother-of-pearl.
The monastery of Saint Macarius the Great contains the relics of many saints, such as the forty-nine martyrs of Cetis. And we can say that during the restoration of the great Church of Saint Macarius, the crypt of Saint John the Baptist and that of the Prophet Elisha were discovered under the north wall of the church, according to the site mentioned in the manuscripts of the eleventh and sixteenth centuries found in the library of the monastery. The relics were collected in a special reliquary and placed before the sanctuary of San Juan Bautista in the church of San Macario. The monastery published a detailed account of this discovery and an assessment of the authenticity of the relics.
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