The Church of the Holy Virgin (MAADI)
THIS CHURCH STANDS IN A BEAUTIFUL AREA on the Nile about ten kilometers south of Old Cairo. It is remarkable for its three beehive-shaped domes that cover the sanctuary. According to tradition, the Holy Family sailed from this site to Upper Egypt. Joseph was able to finance the travel by boat by using the gold, frankincense, and myrrh that the wise men had presented to the Christ Child in Bethlehem. On Friday, March 12, 1976 a deacon picked up a Holy Bible floating on the Nile. It was opened on the page of the prophecy of Isaiah (19:25): “Blessed be Egypt my people.” Now the Arabic Bible, which was printed in Beirut in 1864, is on exhibit in the northern side chapel.
Abu al-Makarim/Abu Salih speaks of the church of the Lady Mary, known as al-Martuti, at al-‘Adawiya, which was surmounted by a dome. Girgis al-Guhari (d. 1810) restored the church. Other restorations took place under the pontificate of Cyril V (1874-1927) and most recently in 1983. The sanctuaries stand at the eastern part of the church. They are dedicated to the Virgin Mary (center), Sts. Paul, Antony, and Shenute (north), and Sts. George, Menas, and Dimyana (south). Icons representing the twelve apostles surmount the wooden screen of the central sanctuary.
On the occasion of the two-thousand-year celebration of the Holy Family’s Flight into Egypt in 2000, the three domes of the church and all of their icons were restored. Most of the icons in the church depict saints and were painted by the nineteenth-century icon painter Ibrahim al-Nasikh. One of the icons on the north chapel features the Virgin Mary surrounded by ten miniature scenes of her life. The flight of stairs with the tunnel leading from the church’s yard to the Nile, which was used by the Holy Family, has been restored.
Note the three domes.