Articles by this author
Though dedicated to tradition, Egypt's modern monks live quite radically different lives from the first Christian hermits, who disappeared into the desert to retreat from society almost two millennia ago. We explore how monastic life has changed and why.
A collection of nineteenth-century protective amulets for the possessed is brought to light.
Wadi al-Natrun, a geological depression west of the Delta, is one of the cradles of Coptic monasticism. In the fourth century, hermits retreated here in search of asceticism and solitude, but soon the monasteries that developed out of these anchoretic communities became centres of ecclesiastical culture. One of them, Deir al-Surian (the Syrian Monastery), is of particular interest.