Morning Commute

This is a photo journal of my daily morning commute from Mohandiseen to Sheik Zayed where the school is located.  It takes about 45 minutes in the morning and usually a bit longer in the evening.  It doesn’t sound too bad as far as commutes go however the total distance is only about 20km.  Cairo traffic is ridiculous, still, glad I don’t have to drive in it.






St. Paul’s Monastery

St. Paul’s Monastery dates back to the 4th century, when it began as a group of hermitages. Paul had been born into a wealthy family in Alexandria. He fled to the Eastern Desert to avoid persecution by the Romans. Here, he lived in a cave for 90 years. According to tradition, in 343 AD, St. Anthony had a vision of St. Paul, and after trekking through the mountains to visit him Paul died leaving the then 90 year old Anthony to bury him.

The fortress in the hills was where the monks retreated during Bedouin raids.

St. Anthony’s History

 St. Anthony’s Monastery dates from the 4th century AD.  What started as a loosely organized group of hermits became over the next few centuries a more tightly knit community with monks living inside a walled compound. 
During the 8th and 9th centuries the monastery came under attack by Bedouins, in the 11th century by Muslims, and then in the 15th century there was a revolt by servants that resulted in the massacre of the monks. 

                                                Our lovely guide.

St. Anthony is considered to be the Father of Monasticism.  Orphaned at the age of 18 around 267 AD, Anthony quickly gave away his inheritance to the poor and moved into the desert to seek solitude and spiritual salvation.  Word of his holiness spread and many followers came to imitate his choice of lifestyle.  Anthony later moved further into the desert and took up in a cave while his disciples then formed a base at the bottom of the mountain forming the first Christian monastery.  Shortly after nearly every town in Egypt was surrounded by hermitages.  Monastic fever then spread in the next century to Italy and France.

The citadel was a safe haven during raids and attacks on the monastery. 

                                                Long stone table


Monks of St. Paul

The monks of St. Paul’s Monastery live out their lives in the seclusion of the Egypt’s Eastern Desert.  Some may make it into Cairo or other places in Egypt to visit their families once every three to six months and only for a couple of days at that.  In their practice they have sacrificed their families and other modern aspects of life in order to commit fully to the Lord.  The different forms of dress indicate the monks level of education or status within the order.

Visions of St. Paul’s

The beauty of the St. Paul’s is undeniable with it’s expanse of history behind it.  The architectural features are breathtaking like the giant wooden doors at it’s entrance and the frescos that adorn the interior walls in the ceremonial and sacred spaces are lovely and amazingly preserved despite their vulnerability to visitors wandering hands. Those familiar with any of the stories of the bible or other historical/religious texts from the time of the prophets can really get a sense of intimacy of almost “being there”.  The monastery comes complete with it’s own source of holy water, a freshwater spring that bubbles up from the ground is enclosed in a dedicated room and is quite a popular attraction.  It is hard not to dip a hand or foot in as there are still so many things that we just can’t explain.  I am sure there are many that could resist but….well….