The Traversing By The Holy Family of Sinai Desert on Their Way to Egypt
The Holy Family at El-Zaranik and Farma
According to the sources of the Coptic Church, chief among which is the vision documented by Pope Theophilus, and recorded in the Coptic Senexarium the Holy Family proceeded from Bethlehem to Gaza, and then to El-Zaraniq (also known as Floussiat), some 37 kms west of El-Arish; then they threaded their way along northern Sinai until they reached Farma (ancient Pelusium) mid-way between El-Alish and present-day Port Said. It was their last stop in Sinai; and with the next leg of their journey they put the perils of the wilderness behind them.
(Above: Ruins of Coptic Monuments - Farma. Below: Ruins of Farma Church - Farma)
The Holy Family at Basta Town
Tel Basta or Basta which they now enter, is a short distance from Zagazig, the main town in the Sharqiah Governorate about 100 kms north-east of Cairo. Here, Jesus caused a water spring to well up from the ground, and His presence caused the idols to crumble, as foretold by the prophets of old. The townsfolk, in consequence, turned malevolent and aggressive, whereupon the Holy Family turned their backs on the town and headed southwards.
The Holy Family at the Town of Mostorod
Icon of Virgin Mary
Church - Mostorod
Virgin March Church - Mostorod
In due course, they reached Mostorod (which came to be called, in those days, 'Al Mahamma') only about 10 kms away from Cairo. 'Al Mahamma' means 'the Bathing Place', a name given to the town because the Virgin Mary bathed the Christ Child and washed his clothes. It is worthy of note that, eventually, on their way back to Palestine, the Holy Family stopped once more at Mostorod and, this time, caused a spring to gush from the earth which still flows forth to the present day.
(Virgin Mary Church - Belbeis, Sharqiah. Below: Interior of Virgin Mary Church - Belbeis)
From Mostorod, the Holy Family made their way north-eastwards to Belbeis (ancient Philippos), back in Sharqiah Governorate, and at a distance of about 55 kms from Cairo. They rested there in the shade of a tree which came to be called, "The Virgin Mary's Tree'. (Left: Virgin Mary Church - Belbeis, Sharqiah. Below: Interior of Virgin Mary Church - Belbeis)
The Holy Family at Meniet Samanoud
Having left their mark on Belbeis, the Holy Family set off in a north-westerly direction and, reaching the small township of Meniet Samannoud (known also as Meniet Genah), they crossed the Nile to the city of Samanoud (or Jemnoty) in the Delta, where the local population received them with a kindness and hospitality that earned them deserved blessing. There is in Samannoud, to this day, a large granite trough which, according to local belief, was used by the Virgin for kneading dough, and a water-well which the Christ Child Himself hallowed.
The Holy Family at Sakha Town
The Coptic name of the town, 'Pekha-Issous', (vernacularized to Lysous) means, 'the foot of Jesus'; for the Holy Child's foot-print was marked, here, in bas-relief on a rock. The rock was preserved, but hidden for centuries for fear of robbery, and only unearthed again 13 years ago. The natural course of the Holy Family's journey from Samannoud to Sakha would have taken them through many of the towns and cities now lying in both the Governorates of Gharbia and Kafr El-Sheikh and, according to some folk traditions, through the Belqas wastelands as well.
(Above: Virgin Mary Church - Sakha, Kafr El Sheikh. Right: Veil of Sanctuary - Virgin Mary Church - Sakha.)
Last Updated: June 9th, 2011