Entry of Christ into Egypt
“The Holy Family in Egypt”

 

 

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After Herod gave the command to slay the children in Bethlehem, the just elder Joseph was warned by God in a dream to depart into Egypt (Mt. 2:13-16). According to tradition, as soon as Christ entered Egypt with his Mother and St. Joseph, all the idols fell on their faces, shattered and broke to pieces in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. When the dwellers saw this, they asked the Holy Family to leave.

They journeyed from Palestine to Dair Al-Muharraq, entering into several villages and sountries in between. They entered the Nile Delta at Basatah (“Tell Al-Bastah”) where they beheld two robbers, one of whom was Demas (the future right-hand thief). The latter protected them from possible harm by the other robber, and, as a result, the Virgin promised that Christ would reward him for having spared Him. From there, they went through the desert of “Wadi El Natrun,” where their presence brought blessings for it became the site of more than fifty monastery, only four of which are inhabited today.

At “Matareya,” a fragrant balsam tree sprouted where the Virgin had thrown the water with which she washed Christ’s clothes. This plant is used as one of the ingredients for making the Holy Myron; the scared Oil used in Baptism and other sacraments. Then they headed southward to Babylon of the Old Cairo and finally to Upper Egypt where they settled at Cusae (“Qusam”), where a famous monastery for the Virgin, Known as “El Muharraq” is located until this day.

In the icon, there are twenty four plants symbolic of the 24th of Pachons (the feast day). The Ibis bird was called “The Savior” by the ancient Egyptians because it uprooted  the worms from the fields. In similitude, our Savior came into Egypt and destroyed the pagan idols.

 

 

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