Cairo – Pope Francis’ imminent visit to Egypt could be an opportunity for this important north African country to become a centre of pilgrimage for Christians the world over in the footsteps of the Holy Family who, according to the Gospels, took refuge here to save the life of the Infant Jesus threatened by King Herod. This is the opinion of Egyptian tourism experts who have for some time tried to fit Egypt into the circuit of Christian religious tourism, as a means to counterbalance, at least in part, the enormous losses suffered by Egypt’s tourist industry due terrorism and the general situation of instability in the region. The most recent to view in this key the forthcoming visit of Pope Francis is Nader Guirguis, a member of the departmental Commission for promoting the Holy Family Way, who, referring to historical references based on the Gospel account, affirmed that ‘Flight into Egypt’ of Jesus and the Holy Family could possibly have lasted several years. Attacks on churches have obviously not affected the intention to propose Egypt as a land of pilgrimage for Christians all over the world, to visit places connected with Jesus and the Holy Family, preaching in the time of the Apostles and the earliest centres of Christian monasticism. How to promote the “the Holy Family Way” – a pilgrim itinerary in places which according millenary traditions were visited by the Holy Family in Egypt – has for some time been a central issue for politicians and Egyptian tourist operators. At the beginning of 2017 Al Abdel Aal, speaker of the House of Representatives, during a visit to the Copt Patriarch offices, said the valorisation of the tourist project for an itinerary according to the path followed by Jesus, Mary and Joseph, was of interest and importance for all Egyptians, not only Christians .
The first proposals to promote also in a touristic key a ‘Holy Family Way’, were made twenty years ago. At the end of 2016 – local sources told Fides – a Commission to promote the ‘Holy Family Way’ chaired by Hisham el Demeiri was constituted at Egypt’s Tourism Ministry. More than two years ago an itinerary in the footsteps of the Holy Family in Egypt which would start at Al-Arish – largest city of the Egyptian governorate of North Sinai and the scene of recent Jihadist violence against Copt Christians – continue on to the Wadi Natrun delta, and reach the Asyut Holy Mary Virgin Monastery, known as Deir Al-Muharraq.
Source: Fides News