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March 10, 2013

In 2012, Exaltavit produced a documentary, “La lumière du désert”, on the great Coptic Monastery of saint Macarius, Egypt. The company gives this introduction:

In the region of el Waddi Natrun in Egypt, one of the oldest monasteries in the world was founded by St Macarius the Great in AD 360. Since then, the monastic presence in this place has never been interrupted. In 1969, a hermit, Father Matta El Maskin, accompanied by a group of twelve monks who lived for 10 years the way of the early Fathers of the Desert in the desert of Waddi El Ryyan, went into the monastery with a mission to rebuild and revive the eremitic and monastic life, and to “make the desert bloom.” In five years the monastery of St. Macarius will be completely rebuilt and its surface area multiplied by six. It currently has 130 monks and hermits living nearby plantations and farms; and it now extends over 1200 hectares. These Coptic Orthodox monks who know a true revival is part of the prestigious line of the Desert Fathers, the origin of Western monasticism.[1]

I have the pleasure of putting it up for my readers.

For those who want to watch the documentary without English subtitles:

[1] The English translation is mine. The French text reads: “Dans la région du Waddi el Natroum en Egypte, se trouve l’un des plus vieux monastères du monde fondé en 360 par St Macaire le Grand.

Depuis, la présence monastique en ce lieu n’a jamais été interrompue.En 1969, un ermite, le Père Matta El Maskine, accompagné d’un groupe de douze moines qui vivaient depuis 10 ans dans l’arride désert du Waddi El Ryyan à la façon des premiers Pères du désert, se rendirent dans ce monastère avec pour mission de le reconstruire, de faire redémarrer la vie monastique et érémitique et de “faire refleurir le désert.”

En cinq ans le monastère Saint-Macaire sera entièrement reconstruit et sa surface multipliée par six, il compte actuellement 130 moines et une dixaine d’ermites vivant à proximité, et des plantations et des élevages s’étendent désormais sur plus de mille deux cents hectares…Ces moines coptes orthodoxes qui connaissent un véritable renouveau s’inscrivent dans la prestigieuse lignée des Pères du Désert, à l’origine du monachisme occidental.”

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Adele Chatelain permalink
    March 11, 2013 12:39 pm

    I just discovered your website and I’m absolutely thrilled; it’s not only informative but beautiful to look at. Ever since I was about 16 years old (I’m now 67 years old), when I first heard about the Copts, (at the time I lived in Detroit, Michigan USA) I’ve been fascinated with the Coptic culture and in particular the Coptic monasteries of Egypt and Coptic Icons (and of course, Sts. Paul and Antony and Macarius). Now I’m curious,; are there Coptic Monasteries for women? May God always bless you in your endeavors.

    • Dioscorus Boles permalink*
      March 11, 2013 2:41 pm

      Dear Adele, thank you for your kind words. I am delighted that you liked the website.

      In answer to your question, yes, there are several Coptic convents for nuns across Egypt. Nunneries have been part of Coptic monasticism since the start of communal monasticism by Pachomius in the early fourth century. In 1997, several hundred nuns were known, and these were divided into contemplative nuns, active nuns and consecrated women. One of the most interesting developments in Coptic Christianity in modern times has been the creation of The Daughters of St. Mary, in 1970, in in Beni Suef, Egypt. This community of nuns has now spread to other parts of Egypt – it follows a very active role in helping Coptic communities throughout Egypt, especially the poor, diseased, handicapped and orphans.

      You can find more about Coptic nuns in Nelly van Doorn-Harder’s, “Discovering New Roles: Coptic Nuns and Church Revival” in Between Desert and City: The Coptic Orthodox Church Today by Nelly van Doorn-Harder and Kari Vogt (1997); pp. 83-98.

  2. Dan Rogers permalink
    February 22, 2014 9:21 pm

    Praise be to God, I am an American who has been to Mt. Athos for discernment. Do you know of any Americans or english speaking monks at St. Macarius. I love reading Father Matta El-Meskeen’s works.

    • Dioscorus Boles permalink*
      February 22, 2014 9:36 pm

      I am not sure if there are any American at the Monastery of Saint Macarius; however, many of the Egyptian monks are highly educated and some speak English fluently. At the Monastery of Saint Anthony at the Red Sea, there is an Australian monk by the name of Lazarus al-Anthony. He lodges in the cave of Saint Anthony.

      • Adele Chatelain permalink
        February 22, 2014 9:49 pm

        When I was deciding to convert to Orthodoxy (I was a Roman Catholic at the time), in 2009, I kept seeing items written about Father Lazarus or I’d see a film clip of him at the Cave of St. Anthony; Father Lazarus, in this mysterious way, was very instrumental in my final decision to convert (and I couldn’t be happier). There are now a lot of You Tube videos of him. Very inspirational.

  3. February 22, 2014 9:40 pm

    Reblogged this on Ace Worldwide Goods & Services and commented:

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