And so they set forth on the return journey. The route they took deviated slightly from the one by which they had come. It took them to Mount Dronka, 8 kms south-west of the city of Assiut, and their blessing of this location was commemorated in the Christian era by the building of the mountain-top Monastery of Dronka. Eventually, they arrived at Old Cairo, then Matariyah, and on to Mahamma, retracing more or less their steps on their outward journey across Sinai to Palestine.
Subsequent Biblical history says it all: at the end, they arrived home, Joseph’s old house, in the small town of Nazareth, in Galilee, in the land of Palestine, from where the message of Christ would, in the fulness of time be heard. The whole journey, from the initial flight from Bethlehem to the return to Nazareth lasted over three years.
They had covered something like 2000 KM; their means of transport a weak beast of burden and the occasional sail-boat on the Nile. But for much of the way, the delicate Mother and the rugged old Carpenter must have trudged on foot, enduring the fierce summer heat and the biting winters cold, suffering the pangs of hunger and the parching affliction of thirst… like hunted outlaws.
It was a journey of indescribable agony and anguish which the Child Jesus, His Virgin Mother and the Sainted Joseph bore with inner joy and survived for the sake of mankind.
“Blessed be Egypt my People” (Isaiah 19:25)
On the 24th day of the Coptic month of Bashans, which corresponds to the 1st of June, the Coptic Church celebrates the entry of the Lord Jesus Christ into the Land of Egypt. On that day, the churches throughout the length and breadth of the land that gave the Holy Family shelter resound with the words of the Doxology:
“Rejoice, Oh Egypt; Oh, people of Egypt and all ye Children of Egypt who live within its borders, rejoice and lift up your hearts, for the Lover of all mankind, He who has been befoe the beginning of ages, has come to you”.
The Holy Family’s Journey in the land of Egypt