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In the village of El-Democrat, there are two monasteries for the great Saint George; an ancient monastery which is no longer there, and the monastery currently present.
The ancient monastery was located ten kilometres west of the current monastery and belonged to the village of El-Democrat (Naga El-Demokreya). The name of this town was mentioned at the end of a manuscript written in Coptic and dating back to 960 A.D. Some scholars believe that this place was a diocese under the same name, and currently, some Arabs refer to it as the ‘monastery of stone’.
However, the current Monastery of Saint George is situated on the West Bank of the Nile River, in the south of the city of Armant. At the edge of the desert is the village of El-Rezkiat which is four kilometres north east of the monastery and belongs to Armant. The monastery lies 13 kilometres south of Armant and five kilometres west of the village of El-Democrat.
The Ancient Monastery
This monastery was built by Saint Tadros who was the disciple of Abba Bakhomious; the father of fellowship. It was said that there was a monastery built by Tadros for monks in Armotim; i.e. Armant which is near his country.
From the fourteenth century, history did not mention anything about the monastery. This is due to the loss of several monasteries because of repeated raids and attacks, in addition to a lack of support to monasteries secondary to the decline in the financial state and confiscation of church and monastery properties from kings and rulers.
The New Monastery
We find that the monastery was mentioned when Bishop Morcos (bishop of Esna) in 1893 A.D sent a report to the patriarchate of the churches within his diocese and matters relating to the diocese of Luxor, Esna and Armant. Included in it was Saint George’s Church, known as the monastery above El-Rezkiat.
The monastery was built on the hands of Hegumen Boles (Paul) the Great; the priest of this monastery. This was to replace the original, ancient monastery located in the western desert which became abandoned due to its far away location and the difficulty in reaching it.
The Monastery’s Churches:
1. The Ancient Church
It is named after Saint George and dates back to the 18th/19th century.
2. The Church of the Heavenly
It is located in the outer yard, at the main gate, on the right of the graveyard.
Every year, the monastery holds a great celebration for its intercessor Saint George. It is one of the biggest and greatest celebrations in the whole of Egypt. Thousands or even millions of visitors come to the monastery; Copts and Muslims from inside and outside of Egypt with all joy. There are also visions and miracles that cannot be counted!
The first celebration of Saint George’s feast in the monastery was in 1975 A.D. It was a huge success and the celebration of the feast has continued until now during the period of 1st-7th Hatour (10-16th November) of every year.