Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great

Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great
دير الأنبا مقار

The church tower at St Macarius' Monastery
Location within Egypt
Monastery information
Other names Deir Abu Makar
Established 360
Dedicated to Saint Macarius the Great
Diocese Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
Founder(s) Saint Macarius the Great
Important associated figures Saint Arsenius
Saint Isidore
Saint Cyril of Alexandria
Saint John the Dwarf
Saint Macarius of Alexandria
Saint Macarius the Bishop
Saint Moses the Black
Saint Paphnutius
Saint Poemen
Saint Serapion
Location Wadi El Natrun
Country  Egypt
Coordinates 30°17′29″N 30°28′34″E / 30.29139°N 30.47611°E / 30.29139; 30.47611
Public access Yes

The Monastery of Saint Macarius (Arabic: دير الأنبا مقار) is a Coptic Orthodox monastery located in Wadi El Natrun, Beheira Governorate, about 92 km north west of Cairo, and off the highway between Cairo and Alexandria.

Ancient history

The monastery was founded in approximately 360 AD by Saint Macarius of Egypt, who was the spiritual father to more than four thousand monks of different nationalities. From its foundation in the 4th century up to the present day, the monastery has been continuously inhabited by monks. Several Christian saints and fathers of the early Church were monks at the Monastery of Saint Macarius, such as Saint Macarius of Alexandria, Saint John the Dwarf, Saint Paphnutius the Ascetic, Saint Isidore, Saint Arsenius, Saint Moses the Black, Saint Poemen, Saint Serapion and many others.

Modern history

In 1969, the monastery entered an era of restoration, both spiritually and architecturally, with the arrival of twelve monks under the spiritual leadership of Father Matta El Meskeen. These monks had spent the previous ten years living together entirely isolated from the world, in the desert caves of Wadi El Rayyan, about 50 kilometres south of Fayoum.

Pope Cyril VI ordered this group of monks to leave Wadi El Rayyan and go to the Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great to restore it. At that time only six aged monks were living in the monastery and its historic buildings were on the verge of collapsing. The new monks were received by the abbot of the monastery, Bishop Michael, Metropolitan of Assiut.

Under Pope Shenouda III, who was himself busily engaged in restoring the Monastery of Saint Pishoy and the Paromeos Monastery, and after fourteen years of constant activity both in reconstruction and spiritual renewal, the monastic community in the Monastery of Saint Macarius numbers about one hundred monks.

The Monastery of Saint Macarius maintains spiritual, academic and fraternal links with several monasteries abroad, including the monastery of Chevtogne in Belgium, Solesmes Abbey and the Monastery of the Transfiguration in France, Deir El Harf in Lebanon and the Convent of the Incarnation in England.

The Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great contains the relics of many saints, such as the Forty Nine Elder Martyrs of Scetes.

Discovery of relics

During the restoration of the big Church of Saint Macarius, the crypt of Saint John the Baptist and that of Elisha the Prophet were discovered below the northern wall of the church, in accordance with the site mentioned in manuscripts from the 11th and 16th centuries found in the library of the monastery. This is also confirmed by the ecclesiastical tradition of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The relics were gathered in a special reliquary and placed before the sanctuary of Saint John the Baptist in the church of Saint Macarius. A detailed account of this discovery and an assessment of the authenticity of the relics was published by the monastery.

Popes from the Monastery of St. Macarius


As of 2013 the bishop and abbot of the Monastery of St. Macarius was Bishop Epiphanious.

Other monasteries of the Nitrian Desert

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great.


Coordinates: 30°17′29″N 30°28′34″E / 30.29139°N 30.47611°E / 30.29139; 30.47611

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