Wadie El Natrun Symposium | St. Bishoy Monastery


The Monastery of Saint Bishoy is one of the most ancient monasteries of Wadi al-Natrun. Wadi al-Natrun ("the valley of natron") is a desert depression 50 kilometers long located about 90 kilometers northwest of Cairo and is the most important monastic center in Egypt. The Monastery of Saint Bishoy bears the name of its patron, one of the monastic fathers of the fourth century.

The word "Bishoy" is from the Coptic and means "lofty". In 340 A. D. Saint Bishoy went to Wadi al-Natrun to live in the desert. He made his home on the site of the present monastery and became a spiritual father to the monks who gathered around him. When the monasteries of Wadi al-Natrun were sacked by the Berbers in 407, Saint Bishoy took refuge in Antinopolis, where he later died. His body was returned to the monastery in the eleventh century and is now in the church that bears his name. In the fifth century the Emperor Zenon built a fortress in the monastery to protect the monks from the attacks by the Berbers.

During one of these attacks the Berbers killed 49 monks at the Monastery of Saint Macarius, and washed their swords in a well at the Monastery of Saint Bishoy. This well is now called the "well of the martyrs". The monastery's gateway has an inner gatehouse and tower, and is the most complete and best preserved gateway in Wadi al-Natrun. The monastery is the second residence of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III.The Monastery of Saint Bishoy is one of the most ancient monasteries of Wadi al-Natrun. Wadi al-Natrun ("the valley of natron") is a desert depression 50 kilometers long located about 90 kilometers northwest of Cairo and is the most important monastic center in Egypt. The Monastery of Saint Bishoy bears the name of its patron, one of the monastic fathers of the fourth century.

The word "Bishoy" is from the Coptic and means "lofty". In 340 A. D. Saint Bishoy went to Wadi al-Natrun to live in the desert. He made his home on the site of the present monastery and became a spiritual father to the monks who gathered around him. When the monasteries of Wadi al-Natrun were sacked by the Berbers in 407, Saint Bishoy took refuge in Antinopolis, where he later died. His body was returned to the monastery in the eleventh century and is now in the church that bears his name. In the fifth century the Emperor Zenon built a fortress in the monastery to protect the monks from the attacks by the Berbers.

During one of these attacks the Berbers killed 49 monks at the Monastery of Saint Macarius, and washed their swords in a well at the Monastery of Saint Bishoy. This well is now called the "well of the martyrs". The monastery's gateway has an inner gatehouse and tower, and is the most complete and best preserved gateway in Wadi al-Natrun. The monastery is the second residence of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III.