Mary, Joseph and Jesus Exile in Egypt
"So (Joseph) got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod." (Matthew 2:14-15)
Many kindred souls lived in Egypt at the time, and Mary, Joseph and Jesus would have easily found refuge there. Matthew tells us only that the HolyFamily stayed in Egypt "until the death of Herod," an unspecified length of time. But a number of apocryphal tales fill in the details. These stories are especially important to the Egyptian Coptic Church which states that the Holy Family remained in Egypt for a little over three and a half years. In fact, nineteen places in the Nile Delta and Upper Egypt are named in traditions as having been places where the Holy Family stopped or resided for varying lengths of time.
As early as the 5th century CE pilgrims visited the “Tree of Mary” outside Cairo. Under this sycamore (below) Mary, Joseph and and the infant Jesus are supposed to have shaded themselves from the hot sun.
Of all the sites connected with the Holy Family's Egyptian sojourn the most important is Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church, also known as Abu Serga (below), in the Coptic Quarter of Old Cairo, just east of the Nile River.
(Above) Narrow passage leading to the church entrance.
Dating back to the 4th century AD, Abu Serga is one of the oldest Coptic churches in Egypt. Although it burned down around 750 AD, it was restored and has been renovated many times since.
The church is dedicated to Sergius and Bacchus, members of the imperial bodyguard under the Roman emperor Galerius Maximianus (305-311 AD), a fierce advocate of the old ways and old gods. The two converted to Christianity and were subsequently tortured and martyred.