A monastery built on the site of a third-century monk’s hermitage in Egypt was reopened in 2019. The development was part of what an Egyptian newspaper called a “bumper year” in cultural discoveries, restorations and events.
Work on the 18th-century Monastery of St. Bidaba in Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt focused on three chapels. Cracks were repaired, and void spaces were filled with the same material as the original bricks in order to ensure that all the original architectural features were retained, reported Ahram Online.
“The wooden surfaces, ceilings and decorations were cleaned, treated, and covered with a layer of special insulating material to protect them from heat and humidity, the newspaper said. In addition, a new lighting system was installed along with modern toilets.
Ahram explained that the monastery has been on Egypt’s Heritage List since 1992. “It is attributed to Bidaba, the bishop of Qeft, who was killed during the persecution of the Christians by the Romans between 303 and 311 CE,” the newspaper said. “Bishop Bidaba built his own cell for prayer on the site of the monastery during the third century CE, and it is believed to have been the first cell to be built where the monastery stands today.”
In spite of pressures from, in particular, Islamic extremists in Egypt, the Coptic Church has continued to represent about 10% of Egyptians. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom reported that in 2018, religious freedom conditions in Egypt “generally trended in a more positive direction related to high-level official discourse and actions.”