Friday, May 25, 2018

Cairo Egypt Saint Samaan The Tanner Monastery a place of miracle where in 979 Mokattam a mountain moved

Mokattam is widely known in the Coptic Church, as it is believed to have moved up and down when the Coptic Pope Abraham of Alexandria performed a mass near it in order to prove to the Caliph that the Gospel is true when it says that if one has faith like a grain of mustard one can move a mountain. 

The name "Broken off Mountain" may be related to the fact that in the story the mountain breaks off from the underlying rock and rises up, before coming back down.

Churches of the Monastery

The church of father Abram the son of Zara the syriaque

This church has been named after Father Abram son of Zara the syriaque, the 62nd pope for the Mark's Chair , in commemoration of the miracle of transferring the Moqattam Hill which took place during his time. He was the one who introduced the three day fasting, which the church had fasted at the time of the miracle, prior to the Christmas fasting, which has become 43 days instead of 40. In addition, he also introduced the Nine've fasting to the Coptic church, and also he was the one who rejected the habit of women slavery which was spread at that time.

This place was discovered as it is during the excavation operations of the caves present in the area in 1992. It was prepared to become a church after expanding and disciplining it.

The first Holy mass took place at this church in 1993.

This church is also used for spiritual and prayer meetings, besides the Holy mass services. This church is considered the smallest in the monastery.

Virgin Mary and St. Simon the Tanner Cathedral

This church was named AFTER Virgin Mary and ST. Simon the Tanner, in commemoration of the miracle of transferring the Moqattam Hill on the 27th of November 979, where the Lord used ST.Simon the Tanner to fulfill this miracle in the Era of Pope Abram the son of Zara the Syriaque the 62nd pope. During this time after praying and fasting for three days in the church of Virgin Mary in Old Egypt, Virgin Mary has made her revelation to pope Abram to announce upon whosew hands the transference of the hill would take place (ST. Simon the Tanner) See the book.

This church has been constructed at 2 stages:

The first stage:
The church was only a huge cave of limestone in the bosom of the hill, the height of which does not exceed one meter. The church has been made made use of by some servants to run prayer servants to run prayer services for the redemption of souls in the area. During this stage, the monastery and the audience were seated on straw rugs which were laid in front of the alter, and on few scattered chairs around.

The second stage:
owing to the increase of the number of audience,
On the 27th of November 1994, which falls as the feast of saint Simon the Tanner, the church was constructed around in the form of quarter circle to accommodate a few thousands of people and thus to become the biggest church in the monastery.

A well developed sound system and a vast visual screen to transfer a clear sound and picture to the audience was installed in the church.
The church is used for holy mass services and spiritual films and meetings held every Thursday.

In front of the alter and to the right side, the church keeps the remains of st. Simon's body which were discovered and brought in the year 1991 from Virgin Mary's church in Babylon Al Darg, in Old Egypt, and were transferred to his church on july 11th, 1992, by a document from the church on the hands of Anba Mataos, the Bishop of Old Cairo at that time, under the supervision of pope Shenoda the Third.

The church is also characterized by the presence of the pot of clay belonging to St. Simon the Tanner, which was discovered beside his remains. In the year 1974, upon the ceiling and to the right side of the church an obvious engraved figure of the Virgin Mary holding the baby Lord Jesus Christ was discovered, not touched by any human hand, and was later revised in the year 1994.

Saint Simon the Tanner Hall & ST. Mark's Church

This huge cave was discovered in the year 1974. It was full of hundreds of tons of stones even up to the ceiling of the cave (which is 17 meters high from the ground), and was later prepared to contain "St.Simon the Tannewr Hall" and "St.Mark'sChurch"

The cave had only one sloap entrance and it was extremely difficult to pass through it( that is is the present big glass window overseening the area).
In the year 1991, after continuous prayers for seven years seeking God's guidance on how to enter the cave, work began to find a path in order to enter the cave and and start removing the huge quantities of debris and demolishing 140thousand tons of stones from the walls and ground of the cave.

Finally, it was prepared to contain two storeys. The upper storey is "ST. Samaan the Tanner Hall" prepared to accommodate 2000 people in spiritual meetings. The walls are decorated with many wonderful pictures engraved on therocks representing scenarios from the Bible. The most unique sceneryis of Jesus Christ opening His arms for all those who ask for Him. Mathwew 1125 " come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy burden and Iwill give you rest". John 6:37" And >>> comes to me I will cast out"

The lower storey is "St. Mark's Church", which was named after St. Mark the first preacher in Egyptian heritage. It was inaugurated in March 1993.

The church dome at the Hall entrance is decorated from the outside by three great artistic pieces made of small coloured mosaic , on top of the dome representing important scenes from the Bible ( crucifixion, Resurrection, rising to heaven)

Lord grant us to come to you with all our hearts and live for you all our lives.

With the prayers of St. Mark, St.Simon and all saints may the Lord give us forgiveness for our sins and make us worthy to say "Our father who art in heaven….."

Church of ST.Paula

This church was named after St. Paula the first pilgrim for what he possesses of virtues as seclusion in the mountains.

This place was discovered in 1986, during the work of a loader there, when a huge rock fell showing an opening in the ceiling of this church.

This church is characterized by the presence of three sections, similar to the order of the first church. The first holy mass was held in the year 1991. The location is also used for prayer meetings as well as holy mass services.

In January 5th , 1992, the church has been endangered by a fire caused by an electric spark. With only divine care the church pictures and the alter were not by any means destroyed which shows us the divine protection of the Lord to his church.

Saint Paula of Rome (347 – 404 AD), was an ancient Roman saint and early Desert Mother.

A member of one of the richest senatorial families which claimed descent from Agamemnon, Paula was the daughter of Blesilla and Rogatus, from the great clan of the Furii Camilli. In her mid teens, Paula was married to the nobleman Toxotius, with whom she had four daughters, Blaesilla, Paulina, Eustochium, and Rufina.

She also had a boy, also named Toxotius. Information about Paula's early life is recorded by Saint Jerome. In his Letter 108, he states that she had led a luxurious life and held a great status. She dressed in silks, and had been carried about the city by her eunuch slaves.

At the age of 32, Paula was widowed. She continued to dedicate herself to her family, but became more interested in religion as time went on.

Through the influence of Saint Marcella and her group, Paula became an enthusiastic member of this semi-monastic group of women. In 382, she met Saint Jerome, who had come to Rome with Saint Epiphanius and Bishop Paulinus of Antioch. Born in Dalmatia, Jerome had studied in Rome as a youth and had traveled to Germany and Aquileia, and for some years had lived in the East as an ascetic and scholar.

While on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Egypt, she settled in Bethlehem and established a monastery for men and a convent for women

The carvings done by the Polish Artist who has dedicated his life working there voluntary are magnificent!

He was a young aged man , the visted egypt and stayed there for a while , so the advisor of the monastery knew that he had skill of drawing , so he asked him to start curving over the stone instead of painting ... and he accepted this and had made about 76 scene in the area of the monastery. 

Discovery of Saint Simon's relics

During the years of 1989-1991, Coptic clergymen and archaeologists searched for the relics of the 10th century tanner and saint, Simon. Simon was apparently buried in the cemetery of al-Habash in Old Cairo; however, while searching for Simon’s relics, his skeleton was discovered in the Coptic Orthodox Church of the Holy Virgin, Babylon El-Darag) during its restoration.

Simon’s skeleton was discovered on August 4, 1991 about one meter below the surface of the church. What was of particular interest when finding his skeleton was that the hair on his head was still intact and had not disintegrated. The hair that was intact was only on the back of his skull and it was deduced that the man was bald in front and thick hair on the back of his head.

In the church where Simon’s skeleton was found there was a painting that depicted the Coptic Pope Abraham and a bald-headed tanner carrying two water jars. The bald-headed man is most likely Simon because he was known for carrying water jars to the poor. 
The painting further depicted some of the characteristics of the discovered skeleton. In a church nearby a pot was discovered and was dated to be more than 1,000 years old. It is believed that this clay pot was the vessel that Simon used to carry water to the poor. The jar is now kept in the new Church of Saint Simon on Muquattam, Cairo

The Zeballeen Story

During the centuries of Islamic rule that led up to the modem period, Egyptians who did not convert to Islam had to pay for the privilege of remaining Copts. Those who could afford to do so were probably wealthy, but it was not until 1855 that this special gezyah tax was lifted. By then, with the constant burden of extra taxation, many Copts had become very poor. As a result, some became zeballeen - slum dwellers who carted away the rubbish of the various towns that came to comprise Cairo.

The people we now know as zeballeen can be divided into two separate social groups. Those who were first on the scene came about a hundred years ago from the oases of Egypt. They collected household waste and sold what they could to be used as fuel for heating public baths or for cooking beans in oil In the end, they became middlemen who sold on these recycled products.

This change of status happened as the second social group appeared on the scene. Landless peasants, mostly from Christian families, migrated to Cairo from the south. They took over the job of collecting household waste, under the supervision of the people from the oases who were there first. 
Their Muslim supervisors were forbidden by Islamic law to touch pork or come into contact with pigs, but as Christians the newcomers were free to do this. Therefore they could supplement their income by keeping pigs that were fed on the food scraps.
Some 7,000 rubbish collectors get up at the crack of dawn every morning at Manshiyat Nasir. They go to blocks of flats, hotels and other parts of Cairo and collect Over 2,000 tons of rubbish. They take this home, emptying their carts in the backyard or in front of their shacks. The women and older girls sort the rubbish into organic and inorganic refuse, and the edible leftovers go to their pigs and cattle. They then sort the durable Waste materials according to type and color.
Present Days

At the end of 1969 the governor of Cairo issued a decree to the end of removing all the trash collectors of Cairo to one of the hills of the Mokattam to live there. So they built themselves primitive houses, simply huts of tin that are called in their vernacular "Zaraayib" (namely pigsties). They were thus named after the place where donkeys and pigs live, and all the other livestock they reared up; such as goats and cattle.

The number of the trash collectors that live in that area reached about 15,000 according to the research of the International Bank which was carried out in July, 1987. But, has doubled to the present date 2018.

These trash collectors collect trash from the houses of most sectors of Cairo, and upon returning to their huts, they sort out the trash and classify it. They pick out from the trash all that is fitting for pigs and cattle to eat, as for the paper, glass, plastic, cloth and stuff like that, they are resold to specialized tradesmen, after they are sorted out, and the trash collectors live on what they get from selling them.

After choosing the place for a church in 1974, work was begun on a church made of tin, with a roof made of reeds, just like the roofs of the rest of the area, which brought back memories of the manger in Bethlehem.

The ministry to the Sunday School kids started, and on the first day eleven kids attended. After that a general meeting for men and women was started. The attendance on the first day, which was April 13. 1974, wsa nine people.

After nearly five months, the place could no longer contain all who came.After the church was completely built with bricks,
However, something happened that obliged the ministers to tear down that building and erect the present church, which was the third attempt to build this place having Saint Samaan the Tanner as the patron Saint of this church.

History of  the Miracle associated with this Church

A miracle happened at this place at: 18. 695 AM , namely November 27. 979 AD.
The miracle was performed under Pope Abram The Syrian who was ordained as patriarch in AD 975 and died in AD 979.

History has recorded the miracle of moving the Mokattam mountain showing that it took place under the caliph Al-Mu'iz Li Din Illah Al-Fatimi, which coincides with the time of Pope Abram the Syrian the 62nd. Patriarch, at the hands of Saint Samaan the Tanner.

The miracle of moving the mountain

Simon the Tanner lived toward the end of the tenth century and many Coptic Christians in Egypt were engaged in handicrafts. Saint Simon worked in tanning, a craft known there till this day. This profession involved other crafts that depend on the process, from whence Simon carried several titles related to skins: Tanner, Cobbler, Shoemaker.

According to a traditional story, Caliph al-Muizz, who reigned during 972-975 AD, used to invite religious leaders to debate in his presence. In one of those meetings in which the patriarch Abraham, also known as Pope Abraam, and a Jew named Yaqub ibn Killis (and in another account of this story was known as Moses) were present, Abraham got the upper hand in the debate.

Plotting to take revenge, Ibn Killis quoted the verse where Jesus Christ said in Gospel of Matthew: "He replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.", and demanded that the Pope prove that his religion is right by means of this. After hearing ibn Killis say this, the caliph asked Abraham "What sayest thou concerning this word? Is it your gospel or not?"The patriarch answered "Yes, it is in it."

After hearing Abraham answer, the caliph demanded that this very miracle be performed by Abraham’s hand or else he and all the Copts would be killed by the hand of the sword. It was then after hearing this that the patriarch asked for three days to complete the miracle.

The Hanging Church, Cairo, built in the 3rd or 4th century AD.
The story continues that Abraham compiled a group of monks, priests and elders. He told them to all stay in the church for three days for a penance. On the morning of the third day, Abraham was praying in the Hanging Church, when he saw Mary, mother of Jesus. The Holy Virgin told him to go to the great market. She said to him, "There thou wilt find a one-eyed man carrying on his shoulder a jar full of water; seize him, for he it is at whose hands this miracle shall be manifested.”

Abraham listened to Mary and went to the market where he met the man the Holy Virgin spoke of. The man was Simon the tanner, who had plucked out his eye because of a passage from the Bible: "If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell."

According to the story, Simon told Abraham to go out with his priests and all his people to the mountain with the Caliph and all his soldiers. Simon then told Abraham to cry out "O Lord, have mercy" three times and each time to make the sign of the cross over the mountain.

The patriarch followed the words of Simon and the mountain was lifted. After the miracle was performed in the presence of the Caliph, the Pope turned left and right looking for Simon, but he had disappeared and no one could find him. The Caliph turned to Abraham and said "O Patriarch, I have recognized the correctness of your faith."

In commemoration of this miracle, the Coptic Orthodox Church observes three extra days of fasting before the beginning of the Nativity Fast.


979- 27 November: miracle of the moving of Mokattam Mountain through the prayers of Samaan the Tanner.

1890 Migrations of Muslim people from oases to Cairo.

1900 Migrations of poor Christian families from Upper Egypt to Cairo and their engagement in rubbish collection.

1969 Government moves the rubbish collectors to Manshiyat Nasir district, under Mokattam Mountain.

1972 The rubbish collector Qiddees invites Brother Farahat to visit his people, the zeballeen.

1974 Brother Farahat comes to the zeballeen area. First meeting of church in building of corrugated iron. Bishop Samweel registers Society of Rubbish Collectors.

1975 Brother Farahat's wife, Su'aad, starts a school with two kindergarten classes.

1976 Fire destroys Manshiyat Nasir: redevelopment begins. Construction of church below the mountain on a site of 1,000 square meters. Healing of Adham's head. First visit of the Coptic Patriarch, Pope Shenouda.

1978 Ordination of Brother Farahat as Father Simaan. First modern celebration of festival of St Samaan.

1980 World Bank, Egyptian government and private agencies get involved in redeveloping Manshiyat Nasir. Rubbish collection service extended to low-income families.

1986 Opening of 'the cavern' as a permanent place of worship. Discovery of site of Anba Boula.

1991 Opening of the Church of Anba Boula seating 400 people.

1992 Earthquake leads to resettlement of people from other parts of Cairo on the Mokattam Mountain. Some remains of St Samaan are brought in procession to the church named after him. (Other remains go to the Church of St Mary and the Hanging Church in Old Cairo.)

1993 School sponsored by the Patmos Foundation of Finland opens.

1994 Opening of Patmos Hospital. Re-opening of 'the cavern' as a Roman-style amphitheatre on a site of 10,000 square meters. Three other churches open for worship: St Mark, the Angel & St John and Anba Abraam.

1996 Father Samaan received the Robert Pierce Award for Christian Service, presented by World Vision.

1997 Some 120,000 people visit the Mokattam Mountain site during two weeks of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting

A Mountain To Move

The presidency of Gamal Abdul Nasir (1956-1970) was well known for social upheavals and movements of population. The most famous was his decision to move the Nubian people off their land. This was to make way for the Aswan High Dam that was to provide electricity from the south of Egypt.

The Nubians had struggled for centuries to defend their language, their customs and culture from outside pressures. Unlike the Copts, they succeeded in keeping their language alive to this day. Their customs include giving their children 'the baptism of John'. But with no Church of their own Christianity never took deep root among them. The Arabs cut them off from the Coptic Church and their faith faded away.

Nasir moved them off their homelands to make wav for the dam lake, Lake Nasir. He put many of them in a complex of villages near Aswan called Medinat Nasir, or 'Nasir City'. But while all this was going on, the World's media missed another movement of population around the same time - the decision to move thousands of low-income Copts to Manshiyat Nasir, or 'Nasir Suburb', this was a barren site on the lower slopes of the Mokattam Mountain.


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