Smalut (Agenzia Fides) – To make a pilgrimage and ask for the intercession of the Virgin Mary for security and peace in the country: with this spirit thousands of Christians and Muslims took part in the week of celebrations at the Deir Al Tayr monastery in Smalut, participating in the Ascension mass in recent days.
The Monastery, visited by about two million faithful of the Christian and Muslim communities that week, is known for its ancient church carved in the heart of the eastern part of the mountain. The pilgrimage to the monastery constitutes the second stage in the so-called "Way of the Holy Family", the itinerary that unites the places crossed by Mary, Joseph and the Child Jesus when they took refuge in Egypt to escape from the violence of Herod (see Fides, 26/2/2019). Every year, 35 million pilgrims walk the path.
One month after Easter and until the Ascension, the children of Christians are baptized in Smalut in the cave where the Holy Family found refuge, in an atmosphere of conviviality and sharing. The celebrations of this week are added to the various initiatives of friendship, which characterize the traditional relationship between Egyptian Christians and Muslims.
Pope Francis went to Egypt in 2017 and, speaking of that apostolic visit, he then said in the general Audience of 4 October 2017: "I remember with affection my apostolic visit to your good land and its generous people; land on which St. Joseph lived, the Virgin Mary, the Infant Jesus and many prophets; earth blessed through the centuries by the precious blood of martyrs and the just; land of coexistence and hospitality; land of encounter, of history and of civilization". (PR) (Agenzia Fides, 7/6/2019)