Egypt: The “Path of the Holy Family” Promoted by UNESCO

Source: FSSPX News

Immediately after Pope Francis’ apostolic journey to Egypt, UNESCO announced that the “Path of the Holy Family” is soon to be added to the list of World Heritage Sites. In the country of the Pharaohs, the project of reviving this path has been advocated by the Ministry of Tourism since 2014.

During his visit to Egypt on April 28 and 29, 2017, Pope Francis mentioned several times the hospitality offered by the country to the Holy Family, forced into exile by the persecution of King Herod.

The political leaders of the country are aware of the economic advantages their country would draw from becoming a place of pilgrimage for Christians from all over the world, to follow in the footsteps of the Holy Family. The Egyptian government can count on the moral authority of UNESCO, that is getting ready to recognize as a World Heritage Site the “Path of the Holy Family”, the itinerary that covers the places Jesus, Mary, and Joseph passed through according to immemorial tradition.

The Egyptian authorities believe that this international recognition would increase the flow of pilgrims to the region, a potential economic windfall that the country would be wrong to pass up.

The project involves reviving a circuit of eight of the twenty-five sites along the itinerary followed by the Holy Family. These sites were built in the 4th and 5th centuries. They are: the Grotto at Old Cairo, the church of the Virgin in Maadi, three monasteries in Wadi ElNatrun, the monastery of Minya, and two others situated in Middle Egypt, in Asyut.

The church at the Grotto – the church of St. Sergius  – sheltered St. Joseph, the Virgin Mary, and the Child Jesus when they arrived in exile. In Maadi, the Holy Family crossed the Nile before continuing their journey towards the region of Wadi ElNatrun, the famous desert of Scetis that has since become the Natron Valley. Tradition tells that the Child Jesus blessed a spring there and announced that holy places would be established nearby: the monasteries of Baramos, Suryan and Bichoi, of the Syrians, and of St. Bishoi. These buildings were damaged by floods, but are currently being restored.

In Middle Egypt, the Holy Family stayed at Jabal Al-Tayr in Yemen, then at what later became the monastery of the Virgin at Gabal Dronka, in the mountains, and finally in Asyut in what is now the monastery of Muharraq.

On May 9, less than two weeks after the Holy Father’s historic visit, the Egyptian minister of Tourism Yehia Rashed went to the Vatican to present a program entitled “The Journey of the Holy Family” and to coordinate future actions between Egyptian tourist organizations and the Work of Roman Pilgrimages.

President el-Sisi, who will celebrate the third anniversary of his election on May 28, is aware of the necessity of protecting  Coptic Christians, as much for his country as to ensure his own power. Several times since 2014 he has called upon the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, one of the greatest religious institutions of the Sunni world, to reform Islam.

Ever since the successive destabilizations in the Middle East, consequences of the famous “Arab Spring”, and under the repeated blows of bloody acts of terrorism attributed to the Islamic State,  tourism income in Egypt has melted like snow in the sun. Thus, it is no coincidence that the revival of the “Path of the Holy Family” has for many months now been at the center of all discussions between politicians and workers in the tourism sector.

Beyond mercantile considerations, may this Path lead souls of good will to recognize the true God, who became incarnate among men.

Sources : Fides / Infochrétienne / - FSSPX.News- 05/22/17