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Egypt to boost spiritual tourism through the Holy Family trail

The Egyptian government plans to revive the Holy Family trail, connecting locations visited by Jesus, Mary and Joseph some 2,000 years ago while fleeing King Herod’s soldiers.

On the bank of the Nile as its courses through the well-to-do Cairo district of Maadi, the Church and Monastery of the Virgin Mary stands today as an important stop for Christian pilgrims in Egypt. According to the Holy Family tradition, the sanctuary marks the spot where Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph embarked during their flight from King Herod's soldiers, a story recounted in the New Testament Gospel of Matthew. Like other holy places, the church is also said to be the site of important miracles, the most remarkable of which dates from 1976, when a Bible of unknown origin was found floating on the Nile open to Chapter 19 of the Old Testament Book of Isaiah (19:25), which reads “Blessed be Egypt my people.”

“This is an ancient church, and it is due to it being part of the route of the Holy Family’s visit [to Egypt], that for anyone coming to visit churches in the country, this one is a must,” Wahba, an employee in the church, told Al-Monitor. In April, the Egyptian government announced that the Church of the Virgin Mary will be part of a project aimed at reviving the Holy Family trail, tracing the path Jesus, Mary and Joseph traveled and identifying the sites they are believed to have stopped at some 2,000 years ago while being pursued by Herod’s soldiers.

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