Saint Mar Girgis’s Arm – Egypt Today
CAIRO – 26 August 2017: “O’ hero, O’ martyr, accept me and turn each of my days into a feast.”
Mit Damsis, the small town at the heart of Dakahlia governorate, has witnessed the arrival of thousands of people who have came from all over Egypt to celebrate the anniversary of establishing monastery of the great martyr Mar Girgis, or Saint George. The monastery contains a part of the remains of the Christian martyr.
The visitors with Father Bishoy – Egypt Today
The small town holds the remains of not one, but two great historical heroes: one Muslim and one Christian. Besides Mar Girgis, the town also contains the grave of the Islamic hero Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, the Prophet Muhammad’s companion who was Egypt’s “wali” (governor), who died in battle and was buried in Mit Damsis.
Thousands of Muslims and Christians visit the monastery to celebrate and receive the blessings of the great Mar Girgis during the celebration of the monastery’s establishment. The place is full of candy and souvenir vendors, most of whom are Muslims. Mohamed Salah Al Said, a Muslim who lives in El Mahalla El Kubra, is the most famous seller of wooden crosses at the festival, and each year the visitors await him to buy his decorated handmade crosses.
A lady praying in the monastery – Egypt Today
The mixture of the sounds of the “adhan” (Islamic call to prayer) and the hymns praising Jesus Christ envelops the town, and Muslims leave the celebrations to go to the mosques and pray before they return to the monastery, as Muslims are the bigger share of the visitors, celebrating with their Christian friends and neighbors.
The story of the ancient church of Mar Girgis, which was built in the fourth century, started when a wealthy Egyptian who used to live in Palestine attended the celebration in the church in Egypt. He thought it would be great if he brought the body of Mar Girgis to Egypt, so he took the saint’s arm and came back to Egypt by sea; however, he said that, on his way to Egypt, an angel appeared and woke him up and told him, “Go to the martyr Mar Girgis’ monastery in Mit Damsis and give the sacred arm to the head of the monastery.”
Vendors at the celebrations – Egypt Today
Father Makary Ghobrial, a priest at Mar Girgis Monastery, told Egypt Today that the man arrived at the monastery late in the night and gave the arm to the priests, who celebrated the arm’s arrival joyfully.
The monastery from the inside – Egypt Today
Camellia Gabr, one of the visitors, added, “We come every year and enjoy the celebration of the church’s establishment and give our vows and donations, and God returns us safe with all the goodness and love; He rewards us for our efforts and love, and answers our prayers and complaints. The place here is full of positive energy and peacefulness, and we are very glad we came.”
The celebrations started on August 23 and continue for seven days. Pay the monastery a visit and let us know how it went, enjoy!
Praying in the monastery – Egypt Today