Coptic Church – Cradle of Eastern Monastics

Coptic Church – Cradle of Eastern Monastics

Everyone who arrives in Cairo is striking the number of mosques – they are more than five hundred here. But among numerous minarets, towering over the city, the view easily finds the temples whose domes are crowned with crosses. Images of the Savior, Virgin Mary and Christian Saints, icons in gold-plated kyota can be seen in the shops of ordinary traders, in the showcases of fashionable stores. All this reminds that Cairo is not only one of the centers of Orthodox Islam, but also the city where Christians lived since ancient.

Egypt was one of the first countries where the Light of Christianity. The works of the Apostle Mark, who accepted the martyrdom in Egypt, brought rich fruits: the church rapidly grown across the country. Many churches were in the valley of the Nile, the ancient Coptic monasteries and churches were preserved to the present day.

Coptic church takes a worthy place in the family of ancient eastern churches, to which Armenian, Ethiopian, Siro-Yakovite and others belong. These churches also call "Dohotkidonskiy", Since during the theological disputes, they did not make decisions of the IV Ecumenical Cathedral, which had a place in Halkidone in 451. Initially, the Coptic Church was part of the Alexandrian Patriarchate, but after the election of the first Coptic Patriarch Feodosia (536-538) was finally separated from her and became an independent National Church.

Name itself "Coptic church" speaks of her antiquity. Word "Copt" Comes from Arabic "cm" – This is a distorted Greek name Egypt – AIGUPTOS. And it, in turn, goes back to "Ha-ka-ptah" – Ancient iconic name Memphis. As noted at the beginning of the twentieth century, an outstanding domestic easternistant Boris Aleksandrovich Turaev, "about a million descendants of the subjects of the ancient pharaohs, the miniments of St. Anthony and the Great Pahomy, still proudly call themselves "Egyptians Orthodox". Currently, the number of cops living in Egypt, according to different estimates reaches 5-7 million. human.

Russian pilgrims, travelers, scientists have long been in Egypt and acquainted with his Christian shrines. In the Nikonov Chronicles under 6509 (1001), read: "The same summer Ambassador Volodimer guests of his own, Aki in the after, in Rome, and others in Jerusalem, and in Egypt, and in Babylon, to show them the lands of them and their customs". V "Tale of temporary years" Egypt (EUPET), Alexandria, Neil (Geon) are repeatedly mentioned.

By the 70th of the XIV century, a trip to the east of Archimandrite Agrofenia. His "Walking" Vainly the fact that he is hardly the first of the Russian pilgrims visited Egypt, Cairo and Alexandria and, obviously, met with Coptic Christians.

The cherished goal of Russian pedestrians was Sinai, where they rushed to visit the famous monastery of St. Catherine and worship his shrines, however, the path of pilgrims often lay through Cairo with his ancient Coptic temples and monasteries. In the middle of the XVI century, the Archdiacon of the Novgorod Sophia Church of Gennady and the Smolensk merchant Vasily Pozdnyakh visited. At the beginning of the XVIII century, Egyptian shrines visited Ieromonah "from Novgorodsk Seversky" Macarium and Seliverst. Deserves mention I "Traveling from Constantinople to Jerusalem and the Sinai mountain, which was at the Russian Messenger, Color Peter Andreevich Tolstoy, the priest of Andrei Ignatiev and his brother, Stephen, in 1707", in which the author leads a description of Alexandria and its shrines and gives a brief description of the Copam.

The first half of the XIX century is rich in travelers who visited the Holy Land and Egypt. One of such wanderers was Cyrinnikov, who committed "walking" In 1820-1821. He visited Egypt and had the opportunity to meet there with Cops. A great contribution to the pilgrimage literature was introduced by Alexander Nikolaevich Muravyev, who described his journey undertaken in 1830. Like his predecessors, it gives a description of the Copts and indicates their social position.

Invalued merit in the history of domestic Egyptology and Coptology belongs to Alexei Norov, who committed in 1834-1835. Long and difficult journey through the Nile – from Alexandria to Nubia. In the second half of the XIX century, the description of Coptic temples and monasteries was given attention to such well-known Russian researchers as Archimandrite Porphiri (Uspensky), Cartavtsov, side, Rostovtsev, Turaev, and others. Matching their records, you can get a whole idea of ​​the history of Christian shrines Egypt – the cradle of the eastern monastic.

In Egypt, there are also several places consecrated by the stay of the Holy Family. Tradition of him is witnessed in ancient Coptic sources. The first of them – El Arish, now here is a spa town located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, not far from the border with Israel (Gaza Strip). "Pay attention to the tales of the biblical and holy fathers on the path of the Holy Family to Egypt, "says Norov, – according to Palestinian, the Most Holy Mother of God headed from Bethlehem the desert pathway leading to Gaza".

From here in ancient times the difficult path to the shores of the Nile began – through the anhydrous sandy desert of Sur. Now the buses overcome it in a few hours, delivering passengers to Cairo, to Ramses Square. (In the center of the square – a huge statue of Ramses II, transported here from Memphis in 1954.). Northeast of "Ramses Square" Located a suburb of Cairo – Heliopolis, and not far from this ancient city – the famous eval mataria. That’s what the Russian traveler n wrote about this place.WITH. Norov visiting Egypt in 1834-1835.: "Selion Matari, this peaceful oasis, autonated with a fun grove and a blooming among the silent desert, retains deep, comforting memories for a Christian. Here, according to reliable legends, the Most Highway with the Divine Infant Jesus, accompanied by Joseph, found himself a cover after the tedious path through the desert".

In ancient times, many pilgrims considered their vows not fulfilled if they did not visit Mataria on the road from Palestine. Russian traveler Alexei Norov arrived here, in this village, from the north, on the way from Alexandria to Cairo. "Soon we have opened palm trees Matari. We saved to relax in the coffee house at the road", – writes a Russian traveler, noting: "We have sufficient reason to think, according to the local legend that the stay of the Most Holy Virgin was near Heliopolis, for the Jewish colonies were here. Holy Family preferably could choose a home between compatriots and prefer Heliopolis to noisy Memphis".

In Nizhny Egypt, the Matary Tree of the Most Holy Theotokos and the source who had a holy family was resting. In the notes of NOROD provides detailed information about these relics. "In the garden, Matari shows a firing fig tree, from which the amazing thickness of the stump, which brings the seal of centuries, – writes a Russian traveler. – From the top of this stump now go to the height of the juicy branches, which promise the resumption of the tree in the former beauty; Many inscriptions, the greatest part of Jewish, Arab and Coptic, mixed with red signs, are making a stump. According to legends, this tree donated once with his shadow Holy Family. Here the fruit garden and a bright source, together with the tree, are attributed to the Muslims themselves healing properties, the ruins of the Holy Housing of the Mother of God are shown near the garden: Christian priests from Cairo sometimes come there".

Russian pilgrim visited the garden, "Referring from the depths of the soul on this place to Virgin Mary Prayer". Here are some more lines that Norov devoted to the Holy Source: "Matari received its Arab name "fresh water" From the extraordinary kindness of its water, which is famous in the surrounding area, everywhere, besides this place, it has a taste of solonish, due to litter particles of the Earth. It is also wonderful that Dynam Arabs call this source "Ain Shems", T.E. "Sun source".

In 1880-1881. Russian traveler Vasily Andreevsky visited Egypt. Being in Cairo, he visited the nearby Heliopolis, as well as the place where, according to legend, was resting the holy family during flight to Egypt. "This episode from the childhood of Christ, so often the plot of great artistic works, see here in the faces at every step, – Guest celebrates from Russia. – Even on the way to Heliopolis, I overtook a woman who was on the donkey and holding a child on the hands of a child, covering it from the sun of his widespread blue brunas. A few steps after him, leaning on a stick, a man of the same age, which is given by Joseph, – a page from the Gospel, reproduced by a brush Jotto, the same setting, the same suit, the same sky and landscape. On the way, palm trees were grew, similar to the one that, one apocryphal legend, tilted her top to the hands of the Baby Christ".

And here is the Russian traveler with the goal. Along between the road, among the Big Garda, a huge Sicomor rummaged, the whole letterproof. A few steps from him there was a deep well with transparent water. "His water was first suitable for use and still famous in Egypt, as unusually delicious, – reports Andreevsky. – Under this tree, the Holy Virgo Virgin Mary was rested with a baby Christ, under a wide shadow from mighty branches. Now it remains very little from these branches; First, and the time imposed on them their heavy hand, and, secondly, every believer considers a debt to cut off a piece of wood or cut his letters into the core ".

In 1889, another Russian author – Yevgeny Kartavtsov was encountered to visit the Mataria. In his diary records of March 27 there are such lines:

"Approach the garden and leave the crew. The sacred mixture of steps in thirty-forty from the entrance; It is enclosed, the tree is magnificent, milled; This is not, of course, under which the Holy Family was resting, but it goes from the same roots and now it is 250-300 years".

In the book of Kartavtsov, interesting information, which did not meet earlier in the notes of its predecessors. According to the Russian author, "All the garden with a fig tree another 30 years ago belonged to Russia, more precisely, to say one of the then representatives of Russian diplomacy in Cairo, but instead of keeping it or selling it to the Russian government, a wise diplomat presented him with Hediva Izmail-Pasha; He, of course, did not refuse, and when he came to Cairo (French) Enerrita Evgenia, Izmail Pasha gave her and the garden, and the sacred fig tree; The act of fortifications was performed in the name of the French Empire, Catholic monks settled in the house and own everyone to this day" .

Notifying your readers about it once "Russian plot", The same author adds: "Tree, truth to say, monks carefully protect and care for him. We were given a branch for memory".

And in almost a hundred years after Kartavsev, a group of Orthodox nuns from the Russian Gornoan Monastery (Jerusalem), who visited the shrines of Egypt, visited the High Stone Wall, visited Nataria. Arab, the keeper of the shrine, opened them the entrance to the fence, and the Russian nuns stepped into place, consecrated by the stay of the Holy Family. "Land around the tree sprinkled with sand, – writes Mother Feodor. – The tree itself refers to the Sicomor breed, or wild figures (lat. – "Ficus Sicomorus", Arabic "Himiz"). Sicomora fruits are distinguished by the form and taste of ordinary figures: they are very round, even somewhat compressed, pinkish, watery, but freshenly refreshing in the heat. The tree trunk is very old, twisted, one part is strongly inclined to the ground".

Having created a brief prayer, the inequers of the Gunnensky monastery went to the village of Mostrator, the place of earlier stopping of the Holy Family. "The village Mostrator is located four kilometers from Nataria, there is an old Coptic Church, she is 100 years old, – continues the need of the day. – After examining the church, down the steps down to the cave, where the Holy Family rested. Here the well, from which the Most Holy Mother of God and the righteous Joseph took water".

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