FLIGHT INTO EGYPT
Many Coptic churches commemorate the flight into Egypt by celebrating the mass on the 24th of the Coptic month Bachons, corresponding to the first day of June. This great event is glorified in the liturgical book the Difnar and the Synaxarion of the Coptic Church. The scripture (Matt. 2:13) provides no information about the duration of the Holy Family’s stay in Egypt and the sites that were blessed by them. This was left to tradition that developed throughout the centuries. In the early third century, Hippolytus of Rome states in his Commentary on Matthew that Christ remained in Egypt three years and a questionable number of months in his flight to Egypt.
Around 400, an anonymous author of the History of the Monks in Egypt speaks of the Upper Egyptian city of “Hermopolis, to which the Savior along with Mary and Joseph came fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah” (19:1). People sought an “itinerary” of the Holy Family’s sojourn in Egypt. Many medieval sources, mainly in Arabic, mention fascinating details of the journey with its miraculous incidents.
The most important pilgrimage centers with association with the Holy Family are the Church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus in Old Cairo, the Church of the Holy Virgin Mary at Musturud near Cairo, the Church of the Virgin at Gebel al-Tayr, Dayr al-Muharraq, and the Church of the Virgin at Durunkah near Assiut. They attract hundreds of thousands of pilgrims annually.