Abbot's residency and guesthouse in the Muharraq Monastery complex
Virgin Mary monastery
|Dedicated to||Virgin Mary|
|Consecrated||1st century by baby Jesus|
|Diocese||Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria|
|Controlled churches||St. George Church, Virgin Mary's Ancient Church, Holy Virgin Mary's Recent Church|
|Founder(s)||Holy Family in Egypt|
|Location||El-Qusiya, Asyut Governorate|
Deir el-Muharraq (Arabic: الدير المحرق, ad-Dayr al-Muḥarraq), is also known as the Muharraq Monastery, Burned Monastery, Virgin Mary monastery and Mount Koskam Monastery, is a monastic complex of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria in Egypt. It is one of the oldest still operational monasteries in the world.
The Deir el-Muharraq complex is located on the Nile just south of Cusae, in Asyut Governorate in Upper Egypt. It is south of Greater Cairo. The monastery is unusual because it is one of the few Coptic ones in Egypt not located in the Sahara.
The stone fortress on Mount Koskam at Muharraq Monastery was built in the 6th or 7th century. The fortress chapel has a 12th-century lectern, dating to when the fortress was first repaired.
The monastery's library has two entities, an ancient Coptic manuscripts library and archives, and a contemporary research and reading library.
The monastery complex has three churches:
- 12th century Virgin Mary's Ancient Church (with 16th and 19th century domes additions),
- 19th century Nepclassical style St. George Church (1878-1880),
- Mid-20th century Holy Virgin Mary's Recent Church (1940-1964).
The Church of al-Adhra (Church of the Virgin) at the monastery was built over an ancient cave. It is claimed that Mary and Jesus spent six months and ten days here on their flight into Egypt from King Herod. The altar stone is dated 747 CE.
Many Coptics hold this church in high veneration, believing it to be one of the first Christian churches in ancient Egypt. It was associated with a Marian visionary event claimed in the early 2000s.
In August 2013, hundreds of supporters of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and ousted President Mohamed Morsi rioters committed arson, setting fire to the Muharraq Monastery, adding it to the dozens of other Coptic churches, bookstores, houses, archival libraries, and monasteries that have been attacked and/or destroyed since the 2011 Imbaba church attacks.
Its archival manuscript library holds, or held, many ancient Coptic manuscripts dating back as early as the 13th century. Another section contained a collection of thousands of modern books and reference material dating from the 19th and 20th centuries. The flames from the monastery's substantial fire reached surrounding Coptic homes in the complex, destroying 15 and damaging others. The fate of the ancient Coptic manuscripts and the monastery's 2 libraries is unknown.
The Monastery is referred to as "Al Muharraq" because "muharraq" is an Arabic word which means "burn or wound inflicted by fire." This name originates from the fact that the monastery had been burned several times over its several centuries of existence, by foreign invaders, Berbers and other anti-Christian groups.
- "Egypt: The Monastery of the Holy Virgin Mary (Muharraq Monastery)". www.touregypt.net (in Russian).
- touregypt.net: Muharraq Monastery history
- AlmuharraqMonastery.com: Monasticism at the Mount Koskam Muharraq Monastery
- AlmuharraqMonastery.com: The Ancient Fortress
- AlmuharraqMonastery.com: Church of al-Adhra (Ancient Church of the Virgin)
- AlmuharraqMonastery.com: St. George Church
- AlmuharraqMonastery.com: Holy Virgin Mary's Recent Church
- Raymond Ibrahim, Islam Translated Blog: "Ancient Egyptian Christian Monastery Set Aflame"—(15 August 2013) . accessed 28 July 2014
- Roger-pearse.com Blog: "Coptic monastery set alight; fate of Coptic manuscripts unknown"—(16 August 2013) . accessed 28 July 2014
- Manuscripts' and libraries' fate unknown via English language online searches, as of July 2014.
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