Monastery of Saint Pishoy

The Monastery of Saint Pishoy in Wadi El Natrun (the Nitrian Desert), Beheira Governorate, Egypt, is the most famous Coptic Orthodox monastery named after Saint Pishoy. It is the easternmost monastery among the four current monasteries of the Nitrian Desert.

Foundation and ancient history

The monastery was founded by Saint Pishoy in the fourth century AD. On 13 December 841 AD (4 Koiak) 557 AM, Pope Joseph I fulfilled the desire of Saint Pishoy and moved his body as well as that of Saint Paul of Tammah to this monastery. Up to that date, the bodies of the two saints were at the monastery of Saint Pishoy at Deir el-Bersha. Today, the two bodies lie in the main church of the Coptic Orthodox Monastery of Saint Pishoy in the Nitrian Desert.

Modern history

Today, the Monastery of Saint Pishoy contains the relics of Saint Pishoy, Saint Paul of Tammah, as well as the relics of other saints. Eyewitnesses recount that the body of Saint Pishoy remains in incorruption until the present day. Pope Shenouda III is also interred there.

The monastery has five churches, the main one being named after Saint Pishoy. The other churches are named after the Virgin Mary, Saint Iskhiron, Saint GeorgesTemplate:Dn, and Archangel Michael. The monastery is surrounded by a keep, which was built in the fifth century AD to protect the monastery against the attacks of the Berbers. An initial castle was built early in the twentieth century, but was later replaced by a four-storied castle built by Pope Shenouda III. In addition, the monastery contains a well known as the Well of the Martyrs. Coptic tradition says that the Berbers washed their swords in this well after having killed the Forty Nine Elder Martyrs of Scetes, and subsequently threw the bodies of the martyrs in the well before Christians buried the bodies in the nearby Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great.

Under the reposed Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Shenouda III, the Monastery of Saint Pishoy began to expand, with new land around the monastery purchased and developed. Cattle breeding, and poultry dairy facilities were also developed. Ancient buildings and churches were also restored, and cells for monks, retreat houses, a residence for the Coptic Pope, annexes for a reception area, an auditorium, conference rooms as well as fences and gates were built. Shenouda was buried here after his death in March 2012.

Popes from the Monastery of St. Pishoy

  1. Pope Gabriel VIII (1525–1570)
  2. Pope Macarius III (1942–1945)

The current abbot

The current bishop and abbot of the Monastery of Saint Pishoy is Sarapamon (Serapis Amon).

Other monasteries named after Saint Pishoy

  • The Monastery of Saint Pishoy at Deir El Barsha at Deir el-Bersha, near Mallawi
  • The Monastery of Saint Pishoy at Armant, east of Armant

Other monasteries of the Nitrian Desert

See also


  • Official Website of the Monastery of Saint Pishoy (in Arabic)
  • History of the Monastery of Saint Pishoy

Template:Monasteries in Egypt

Coordinates: 30°19′09″N 30°21′36″E / 30.3192°N 30.3601°E / 30.3192; 30.3601

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