Of all the countries of the world, the Lord Jesus chose Egypt to escape from the face of Herod, who wanted to kill him when he was a child. The Gospel of Matthew narrates in its second chapter how Herod the King wanted to kill the Child Jesus, so the angel of the Lord commanded Saint Joseph to “take the Child and his mother and flee to Egypt and stay there until I bring you.” word.” When Herod died, St. Joseph was ordered to return the family to the historic land of Israel.
According to tradition, the Holy Family entered Egypt through its northeastern border, went southwest into the Nile Delta, and from today Cairo boarded a boat up the Nile to today’s Assiut, 375km south of Cairo. They stayed there for most of their trip to Egypt until they returned home, taking a slightly different route back.
The entire journey is said to have taken three and a half years, extended over 3,500km, and included 31 sites, eight caves, 18 water sources or fountains, and 13 trees. Today, every place crossed by the Holy Family has a certain church, monastery or monastery that are places of pilgrimage for Egyptians, not only Copts but sometimes Muslims too.
The beginning of the second millennium saw the Egyptian government recognize the trail of the Holy Family in Egypt as a possible place of religious pilgrimage. In view of this, the government, joined by private organizations focused on Egyptian or Coptic heritage, is carrying out a project to develop areas along the route to accommodate travelers and tourists. This work, however, stopped for almost twenty years that saw the chaos and the consequences of what is known as the Arab Spring, and later the years of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it started in recent years.
Nothing inside the churches or ancient relics was changed, except for serious repairs, but the roads leading to them were paved and planted with trees or palms, poles were installed, parking spaces were built and, in general, any necessary infrastructure was provided. Tourist lodges and tourist centers have been left to local communities to provide, in the hope that the expected tourist activity will bring prosperity. To date, the Ministry has developed five pilgrimage sites on the Holy Family Trail: Samannoud, Sakha, Tell Basta, Wadi al-Natroun, and Gabal al-Teir.
A real real adventure
The most recent attempt to promote the path of the Holy Family is a surprising virtual website launched on November 20 by Pope Tawadros 2nd.
Located at https://map.blessedegypt.com/ar/map, the website presents a working map of Egypt that includes the sites visited by the Holy Family. Clicking on each location on the map takes the visitor on a real journey through it, with a detailed description of its features. Video clips of all sites are included, as well as collections of excellent photos, with descriptions in seven languages: Arabic, English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Russian.
This website was established by the Egyptian NGO Blessed Egypt Foundation for Development and Heritage Revival which aims to support the project of revitalizing the Holy Family Route in Egypt.
Pope Tawadros expressed his admiration for the Blessed Egypt website, and highly praised the use of modern technology to achieve the goal of promoting the Holy Family’s journey to Egypt. He said that this technology is of great interest to young people, and will be useful in teaching about Egyptian heritage which, if it is, involves the important spiritual and historical event of the Holy Family’s escape from Egypt. He highly praised the thoroughness and accuracy of the information quoted in seven languages.
The Pope said that the path of the Holy Family in Egypt offers a unique spiritual blessing, as well as a special experience in terms of tourism, history, geography and economy.
To develop local communities
Accompanying Pope Tawadros during the launch ceremony were those in charge of Blessed Egypt and those working on the development of the website.
The head of the Board of Trustees in Blessed Egypt, Nasser Sobhy who is a journalist in Watani and has the ability to take pictures, spoke about the objectives of these organizations as focusing on two things. First, Sobhy said, the NGO aims to support the government and the Church’s project to revive the Trail of the Holy Family in Egypt, by announcing it through a recently launched, comprehensive, attractive VR website in seven languages.
Secondly, he explained, Blessed Egypt aims to contribute to the development of local communities along the path of the Holy Family’s journey to Egypt. He said this will be achieved by establishing community centers where members of the community can learn or train themselves to improve their skills in valuable crafts that will increase their opportunities to earn better income. These public institutions, he said, will also promote public awareness about the economic benefits of tourism in the local community, thus reducing the need for young people to migrate to other countries.
“It is no secret that the journey of the Holy Family to Egypt is unique because Egypt was the only place they visited outside of the historical land of Israel. Therefore, its route, from Sinai in the north to Assiut in the south, stands. to attract millions of tourists, given that it contains all aspects of meaningful religious tourism. Pope Tawadros said he was very happy with the local development policy of Blessed Egypt, he said it would make communities the guardians of that precious treasure,” Sobhy said. .
“Egyptians, Muslims and Christians alike, have great faith in the blessings brought to Egypt by the visit of the Holy Family to their country,” the Pope, on the other hand, added.
A dream come true
On her Facebook page, Dina Sidhom, the managing editor of Watani’s website Wataninet wrote about the difficult journey that began within the walls of Watani in the early 2000s and reached its final stage with the launch of the website. He recalled the years he spent meticulously gathering accurate information from all the sites of the Holy Family’s journey in Egypt, while Sobhy visited these sites one by one, capturing amazing photos and video.
Then came the desire to finance this project, which was greatly interrupted by the start of the Arab Spring and the difficult economic situation that followed, followed by the years of Covid. At that time, Sobhy decided that the project should take a different form to be successful. He led the founding of Blessed Egypt, and proposed a VR website.
“With divine blessings, and deep support from faithful friends who believed in this work, and the active encouragement of our beloved Pope, the dream has finally come true.”
Visit the working map of Egypt that includes the sites visited by the Holy Family at https://map.blessedegypt.com/ar/map.