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Monastery of St.Macarius the great

  • 05 16, 2023

Monastery of St.Macarius

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 Meskin.

St.Macarius Monastery

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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Egypt Tours FAQ

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The Monastery of St. Macarius the Great, also known as the Monastery of St. Macarius the Egyptian, is one of the most renowned Christian monastic communities in Egypt and the entire Coptic Orthodox Church. It is named after St. Macarius the Great, a revered Christian ascetic and monk who lived during the 4th century AD and is considered one of the Desert Fathers of early Christian monasticism.

Key aspects of the Monastery of St. Macarius the Great include:

   Location: The monastery is situated in the Wadi al-Natrun (Wadi El Natron) desert region in northern Egypt, about 92 kilometers (57 miles) northwest of Cairo. This area is historically significant for its association with Christian monasticism and has been home to several ancient monastic communities.

   Foundation: The Monastery of St. Macarius was founded in the 4th century, making it one of the earliest Christian monastic establishments in the region. It was founded by St. Macarius the Great himself and was later expanded and developed by subsequent generations of monks.

   Spiritual Heritage: St. Macarius the Great is known for his profound spiritual wisdom and ascetic lifestyle. His teachings and writings have had a significant impact on Christian monasticism and spirituality. The monastery preserves his legacy and continues to be a center of Christian contemplative life.

   Monastic Life: The monks of St. Macarius follow a strict monastic life that includes communal prayer, fasting, manual labor, and solitude. They strive to live a life of prayer and simplicity in the desert, following the traditions of the Desert Fathers.

   Historical Significance: The monastery has a rich history and has survived various challenges and periods of persecution over the centuries. It is considered a symbol of the endurance and resilience of the Coptic Christian community in Egypt.

   Spiritual Retreat: The Monastery of St. Macarius has long been a destination for pilgrims and seekers of spiritual wisdom. It offers a place of retreat and reflection for those seeking a deeper connection with their faith and spirituality.

   Religious Art and Architecture: The monastery features historic churches and chapels adorned with religious art and frescoes. The architecture reflects both Coptic and Byzantine influences.


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