AFRICA/EGYPT - New developments and projects for the revival of the "Way of the Holy Family"

Thursday, 12 January 2017 pilgrimages   oriental churches

Cairo (Agenzia Fides) - The revival of the "Way of the Holy Family", an itinerary to make pilgrimages to the places that, according to ancient local traditions, were crossed by the Holy Family during their exile in Egypt, continues to be the focus of initiatives, proposals and lively debate involving politicians and Egyptian tourism operators. In recent days Al Abdel Aal, President of the Egyptian House of Representatives, during a visit to the offices of the Coptic Patriarchate, reiterated that the development of the tourism project to be set out following the paths carried out in Egypt by Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus, concerns and involves all Egyptians, not just Christians.
The statements of intent expressed by the President of the Egyptian Parliament gave a reply to Moataz Sayed, vice-president of the tourist guides Association in Egypt, noting that so far the promises expressed by politicians about the development of the "Way" have had no effective results, despite the commitments made in the past by ministers and prime ministers, starting from Ibrahim Mahalab, Egyptian Prime Minister from March 2014 till September 2015.
The first proposals for improvement of the "Way of the Holy Family" date back to twenty years ago.
According to Egyptian tour operators, the Ministry of Tourism is the public body which should be in charge of the project, integrating the infrastructures and encouraging the construction of roads and hotels that revolve around the places where one keeps the memory of the passage of the Holy Family in Egypt.
At the end of 2016 - local sources consulted by Agenzia Fides report - a Committee for the revival of the Way of the Holy Family was formed at the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, under the presidency of Hisham el Demeiri, former head of the Egyptian Authority for the promotion of tourism, the body that in Cairo oversaw the recent restoration of the Abu Sarga cave church, dating back to the fifth century, built, according to local tradition, in the place where the Holy Family rested before starting their return trip in Palestine.
Last September (see Fides 23/09/2016), during the Economic Conference of New Jersey, organized by the American Coptic Association, 24 members of the Egyptian Parliament pledged their political and institutional commitment to favor the concrete implementation of the "Holy Family project" and to make Egypt a pilgrimage attraction to be proposed especially to Christians around the world.
According to supporters of the initiative, the tourist development of the "Way of the Holy Family" could increase the annual share of tourists in Egypt by at least one million units, with pilgrimages concentrated especially at Christmas time. Two years ago (see Fides 21/10/2014) the ideal path of the pilgrimage on the footsteps of the Holy family in Egypt had been identified, which should start from the town of Al-Arish in northern Sinai, then head towards the delta and Wadi Natrun, and reach Assiut and the Monastery of the Virgin Mary, known as the Monastery of Al-Muharraq. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 12/01/2017)