at Matereya, Ain Shams & Zeitoun

Eventually, they left the desert behind thorn and made their way southeards, crossing the Nile to its eastern bank, and heading for Matariyah and Ain Shams (ancient Heliopolis, the site of the oldest ‘university in history called since earliest Pharaonic times, ‘On’). Both these adjacent districts are outlying suburbs of present day Cairo, only 10 km or so from the city centre.

At Zeitoun
there, Ain Shams was home to a large Jewish community, who had erected a temple – the Synagogue of Unias, — for their worship. ln Matariyah, a tree still stands to this day, still regularly visited, called ‘Mary’s Tree”, for the Family is believed to have rested in its shade. Here, too, the infant Jesus caused water to flow from a spring, from which He drank and blessed, and in which the Virgin washed His clothes. She poured the washing water on to the ground, and from that spot, the fragrant balsam plant blossomed: besides the healing and pain-shooting properties of this balm, its essence is used in the preparation of the scents and perfumes of which the holy Chrism is composed