Egypt is one of the richest countries in the Middle East when it comes to both historical and religious sites, with the Tree of the Virgin Mary being one of the most significant places to visit. After months of renovation and work done by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the Tree of the Virgin Mary has finally been reopened to the public, with several noticeable developments.
Escaping from persecution by Emperor Herod, Christianity’s Holy Family, Joseph, the Virgin Mary, and a baby Jesus fled to Egypt, making different stops along the way, trying to stay safe during their three-year temporary exile from their home in what is now Palestine.
One such stop was in Al-Matareya, located in the northern part of the current Egyptian capital, Cairo, which got its name thanks to the presence of the Tree of the Virgin Mary. As the story goes, the Virgin Mary and Joseph rested in the area where they used a sycamore tree’s shade for cover and refuge. That moment and the plight they went through during their journey in Egypt made this location a significant one, as many locals and foreigners traveled to come to pray by it or receive blessings by touching the tree.
What Does The Latest Renovations Include?
With such a prominent location in Egypt, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities decided to renovate it so it can be better preserved and accommodate more visitors in the future. The ministry expanded on the visitors’ center, added information banners for all the locations inside the now walled venue, the well inside the area was updated with concrete and sandstone exteriors and decorated with colorful statues of the Holy Christian Family.
There were also several visual additions too, including a beautiful mural of Joseph, the Virgin Mary, and baby Jesus under the tree, with the obelisk of ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Senusret I in the background, drawn by an 18-year-old Korean artist, according to the National.
Two paintings were also added to the visitors’ hall, as well as a map of all the places that the Holy Family stopped at during their visit to Egypt. The place is open to the public with ticket prices being 10 EGP for Egyptians and 60 EGP for foreigners, with students getting a 50% discount.
The Holy Family’s trail in Egypt runs through 25 stopping points and included several governorates all over the country. Moving across Farma to Tell Basta, where there’s a spring that sprang from the Earth upon their arrival.
There’s also “Pekha-Issous,” also known as “The Foot of Jesus,” a place that got its name from a rock with an imprint of baby Jesus’ foot on it, which is still preserved to this day. They also traveled to Wadi El-Natrun before heading towards the capital, reaching the previously mentioned Al-Matareya.
Years after their long journey, the faithful turned these spots into churches, chapels, and monasteries, where monks and priests preserved these locations, opening them to pilgrims of the faith.
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