The Franciscan Church of the Assumption (MUSKI)
THE CHURCH IS SITUATED at the end of Darb al-Barabra off Port Said Street in Muski. The history of this church begins in 1632 when Franciscan monks acquired a piece of land outside the ‘Embassy of the Venetians.’ This ‘French Church/ as it came to be known, was enlarged in 1732. It is said that Napoleon Bonaparte prayed there during his 1798-1801 campaign. Around 1850, the church was demolished in order to build a new one, between 1852 and 1854. The church’s designer was architect Fr. Serafino da Bacceno, who designed the Cathedral of St. Catherine in Alexandria.
The church’s facade is adorned by two marble plaques that were executed in 1919. One of them commemorates the seventh centennial of the meeting of St. Francis of Assisi and the Ayyubid Sultan al-Kamil. The second plaque refers to the restoration of the church’s facade on that occasion.
In 1860 Fr. Enrico Collado brought with him from Tripoli an icon of the Holy Virgin and a chapel was built specifically to house this famous icon. A large painting of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary, which was donated by Emperor Franz Joseph, hangs in the apse. The Virgin is surrounded by three angels while the apostles are represented below her.
In 1952 Muhammad Naguib, president of Egypt, inaugurated the Franciscan Center for Eastern Christian Studies, which is attached to the church. Many scholars and students benefit from the treasures of its famous library.