In Pics: Dronka Monastery; historical eyewitness of the Holy Family journey
Sun, Aug. 19, 2018
CAIRO – 19 August 2018: Thousands of Christian and Muslim visitors continue to flock to Virgin Mary's Monastery, the Dronka convent located Western the Assiut Mountain, to celebrate the Virgin's fast which begins on August 7 and ends on August 22.
Church clergy and Copts celebrate at Dronka Monastery in Assiut, Egypt, in September 2017 – Egypt Today/Hazem Abdel Samar
Reverend Luka who served as the monastery secretary for years told Egypt Today that the Virgin's cave goes back to the time of the Pharaohs, who carved it to hide from the flood 4,500 years ago and when the Holy Family arrived, they lived in the cave. Back then, Assiut, where the Holy family took the boat to return to Palestine, was the capital.
Egyptian Coptic Christians lighting candles before a Virgin Mary icon at Dronka Monastery in Assiut, Egypt, in September 2017 – Egypt Today/Hazem Abdel Samar
"The Holy Family's time in Dronka was a time of extraordinary phenomena and miracles," said Reverend Luka, adding: "When the Holy Family left, the first church, the Cave Church, was built here in the 1st century AD. It was not like today's churches, but one in the spiritual sense – where prayers are held and supplications are raised."
The reverend told Egypt Today that the monastery welcomes a million visitors annually during the Virgin's fast mid-August.
The reverend said, "When monasticism emerged in the 4th century in Egypt, this place became a monastery. Many monasteries were built, but Dronka Monastery survived, unlike them. They were, however, chronicled in Coptic history." He further explained that the Dronka Monastery used to be called the "Monastery of Writing Monks" as monks were active in copying books.
Assiut officials said that the government provided sufficient services for the Coptic holy sites in Assiut and that they have recently added new extensions to the place as well as direction signs on the main desert roads to reach the monasteries.
The Holy Family in Egypt - Wikimedia commons/Edwin Long
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