Egypt: Cairo - Deir Abu Magar (The Monastery of St. Macarius

Deir Abu Magar (The Monastery of St. Macarius)


This monastery was founded by St. Macarius the Great (300-390), it is the southernmost of the four monasteries and has always been the most important Christian foundation in the Wadi. It has supplied many patriarchs for the Coptic church. By the 6th century, the monastery, also called "Deir Anba Makaryus", used to be the official residence of the bishops of Alexandria. The heads of the Coptic Church were forbidden to reside in Alexandria because of the Byzantine rulers of Egypt at that time.

The monastery was attacked several times by the Berbers and the church was destroyed and rebuilt three times. Most of the present buildings were rebuilt by patriarch Shanudah (859-81) after a sacking that occurred in 866. The qasr of this monastery is a three story building accessed by a drawbridge at its first storey level. On the ground floor are the mills, storerooms and a well. On the first floor is the Chapel of the Virgin ( AL Adra ) with three haykals probably dating to 13c. The second floor contains three churches. To the north is the Church of The Angel Michael. The Church of St. Anthony, Paul and Pachomuis follows and at the southernmost is the Church of the travelers (al Sawwah). Little remains of the Church of St. Macarius, much of it was restored in 1930. There are two haykals which date to c830 and several patriarchs and saints are buried there among whom are St. Macarius and St. John the Short. There is also the small church of St. Ishkhirun of Killin, with three haykals and two altars only, it is used as a storage area. The Church of the Forty-Nine Martyrs is now only used during fasts and the Feast of Nativity. St. Magar lived as a hermit monk in a cave. He received divine revelation in the form of a dream to build a church.

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