Abba Makarius Monastery in Wadi Al-Rayyan, Fayyoum: We ask state to avoid building road within monastery’s fences, which would compromise monastic privacy

Abba Makarius Monastery in Wadi Al-Rayyan, Fayyoum: We ask state to avoid building road within monastery’s fences, which would compromise monastic privacy

One of the monks of Abba Makarius Monastery in Fayyoum, known as the Wadi Al-Rayyan Monastery, said, “The monastery lies between high treacherous mountains on all sides, and it’s an ancient monastery, dating back to the sixth century C.E., with 250 monks, who worship in grottos and cells in the desert and surrounding mountains within the monastery’s fence.” He affirmed, “The Roads & Bridges Authority affiliated to the Department [Ministry] of Transport is planning to pave a road to link Fayyoum to the Al-Wahat road of Al-Wadi Al-Jadeed, such that the road will pass within the monastery’s fence beside cells and grottos belonging to monks, as this land is considered state-owned, but the Wadi Al-Rayyan Monastery supervises and preserves it.”

He clarified that “this path will deprive the area of its serene monastic privacy, depriving monks their periods of worship in the scattered grottos in nearby mountains surrounding the monastery, thereby impacting monasticism’s presence in the area.” He added, “The monastery has presented two complete studies to the Roads & Bridges Authority, each of which is supported with maps and detailed sketches of two alternative roads distant to the monastery fence, each road offering a shorter, better path than the one the Roads & Bridges Authority wishes to pass through the monastery’s fence.” He indicated that, “The Roads & Bridges Authority heard the monks well and understood their point of view, and the monastery is awaiting the reply of the Authority at the moment.” He emphasized that “there are ancient grottos and others, and modern cells in the mountains. The monastery has signed a protocol with the Department of the Environment, and built a fence to defend the monastery, with a length of 11 km, after the monastery came under attack, with gunshots fired and a grotto burned by outlaws, during the periods of lack of security following the 25th January Revolution.”

He pointed out, “The monastery lies in a wilderness area called Wahat Al-Oyoun, which is a natural reserve, affiliated to the Department of the Environment, which area the monks are preserving for its historic and civilized ancient Coptic nature,” indicating that “Fr. Matta Al-Meskeen had revived monasticism at the monastery of Wadi Al-Rayyan in 1960, largely renewing the area and inspiring a monastic renaissance, as the monastery is considered the biggest in terms of the number of monks residing in it.”