The Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of Mallawi in Minya has obtained official permits to begin working on the Holy Family’s trail project in the Kom Maria area, at the village of Deir Abu Hans.
Kom Maria is one of the stops identified on the Holy Family’s itinerary while they sought refuge in Egyptian lands from the oppression of Herod, the Roman ruler in Palestine.
The Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of Mallawi prepared a project to establish an international tourist attraction at one of the Holy Family’s stops in Egypt.
The project comes in line with the international recognition of the itinerary of the Holy Family’s journey in Egypt as a pilgrimage trip for Christians, as well as with the Egyptian government’s plans to promote tourism.
Twenty years ago, Bishop Demetrius, the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of Mallawi, proposed a tourism project in the Kom Maria area east of the Nile.
The Archdiocese prepared a scale model for the project, covering all areas the Holy Family stopped at, and a study confirmed that the project will provide many job opportunities.
Visitors will move between different areas by a trackless tourist train.
The project is scheduled to be a major tourism project that will contribute to revitalizing tourism in Minya.
A holy hill
Kom Maria, a hill of sand, is considered one of the most important archaeological areas in Egypt.
It is where the Holy Family rested for one day from their journey, and were warmly welcomed by the people of Upper Egypt.
A building in the shape of a tent was established on the hill to serve as a memorial to the Holy Family’s visit.
Above the facade of the building stands a large icon representing the visit, and a mural on the hill bears the words: “Blessed be my people of Egypt,” that has been translated into Hieroglyphs, Coptic, Arabic, and English.
A major annual celebration, organized by the Archdiocese of Mallawi, has been held in Kom Maria for decades, on the occasion of the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt and the martyrdom of the children of Bethlehem on January 11.
The celebration is held in early February so that the largest possible number can attend the celebration.
Tens of thousands of people from all Christian sects join the celebration.
Tracing the Holy Family’s steps
Thousands of visitors, Copts and Muslims alike, visit Kom Maria annually to celebrate the anniversary of the Holy Family crossing Egypt.
The celebration in Mallawi witnesses the preparation of boats bearing images of the Virgin Mary and the Holy Family, while bishops, priests and deacons wear clothes designated for prayers and service.
They chant ancient Coptic melodies, raise pictures of saints, and walk about two kilometers praising God with thousands of Copts accompanying them in tow.
The Kom Maria area is one of the important stations that Jesus Christ visited when he was a child, accompanied by his mother, Saint Mary, and Saint Joseph, the Priest of the Church of Anba Yahnnes al-Qusayr, in Mallawi, Yusab Heshmat explained.
The area is of grand archaeological and historical value, he added, and is expected to revive tourism after the project is completed.
The trail of the Holy Family in Egypt received great international attention in October 2017, after the Pope of the Vatican considered the path a Christian pilgrimage.
In May 2018, the itinerary visit was then included in official Vatican visits.