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It is one of the four ancient and active monasteries in the wilderness of Scetes. In chronological order of their establishment, these are: El-Baramous Monastery, Saint Macarius the Great’s Monastery, Saint Bishoy’s Monastery and the Virgin Mary El-Sourian Monastery.
The monastery is located 14 kilometers after the half way point of the Cairo-Alexandria desert road.
The monastery’s saints include Saint Ephraim the Syrian. The giant tree of Saint Ephraim the Syrian is located to the South of the Church of the Cave.
It is one of the monasteries of the Theotokos (Mother of God) which started appearing in the fifth century after the meeting of the eccumenical Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. Their aim was to confirm the dogma of the Theotokos which the Orthodox believe in. This was in defence to the heresy of Nestorious which was contrary to this.
The monastery’s most important historical features are the ancient fort and the monk’s cells.
The monastery’s churches:
1) The Church of the Virgin El-Sourian. which contains the Door of Prophecies.
2) The Church of the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste.
3) The Church of the Cave.
4) The Church of Saint John Kama (Khame) and Saint John the Short.
The monastery’s abbot: Bishop Metaos.
The name “El-Sourian” given to this monastery was as a result of the dwelling of some Syrian monks in it during a period of time. They immigrated from their countries and lived in this monastery due to the persecution in Syria and Iraq. It then returned to its founders; the Coptic monks but it maintained its famous name.
Two of the monastery’s monks were promoted to the Papal throne:
-H.H. Pope Gabriel VII (the 95th patriarch)
-H.H. Pope Shenouda III (he was ordained as the bishop of education and religious institutes on the 30th of September 1962. He was the Pope from the 14th of November 1971 until the 17th of March 2012.