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Wadi Natrun

Wadi Natrun

1. Deir Anba Bishoi

2. Deir as-Suryani

3. Deir Abu Maqar

4. Deir al-Baramus


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Deir Abu Maqar

Wadi Natrun, Egypt

Wadi Natrun, Egypt

Wadi Natrun, Egypt

This might prove to be the most difficult of the monasteries to enter, I was only admitted during one of the numerous fasts and festivals because of my Press card.
The interior is not as visually attractive as Deir Anba Bishoi and Deir as-Suryani, but the walls are quite impressive. They strech for a width that no ordinary camera can fully grasp and are much higher than the other monasteries. And everything is in perfect condition. One might wonder why they use so much of their resources on defence even in modern times. The answer is clear: the monks do not feel safe from Muslim extremists.
The founder of this monastery is the same as with the Deir al-Baramus, but this one carries his name. St Makarius died in 390, after a life of extreme ascetism lasting more than 60 years. He was reported to only eat one cabbage leaf every Sunday.
The monks of Deir Abu Maqar claimed in 1978 to have discovered the head of John the Baptist, adding to his other heads in Venice, Aleppo and Damascus.
Being down to only 6 monks in 1969, the monastery is today one richest in Wadi Natrun. It has more than 100 monks and 600 workers in the extensive farm which spreads in front of it.

By Tore Kjeilen