|Anba Bishoi Monastery (Wikipedia)|
Although Shenouda's home monastery, where he had labored as a monk, was the Suriani, also in the Wadi Natrun, he liked to retreat to Bishoi to meditate or to protest political developments; ironically (or perhaps not) it was also the monastery to which Anwar Sadat exiled him when he deposed the Pope in 1981. Of the four monasteries still in use in the Wadi Natrun, Bishoi is the easternmost and the first to be reached coming from the Cairo-Alexandria road.
|Monastery, Wadi Natrun 1978 (Dunn)|
|Scene, Wadi Natrun, 1978 (Dunn)|
Known to the Greek world as the Scetis, the place of ascetics, or as Nitria for the natron that gives the Wadi Natrun its Arabic name, the region and adjacent areas once harbored dozens of monasteries, separate areas of monastic cells where monks lived in solitary, and other religious institutions. Often subject to depredations by bedouin tribes, the monasteries developed fortress-like walls in many cases. Many of the Coptic Popes have come from these monasteries, of which four survive today: Anba Bishoy, Anba Maqar or Saint Macarius, associated with the reform movement led by the late monk Matta al-Maskin, Suriani (the monastery of "the Syrians";
|Wadi Natrun, 1978 (Dunn)|
So the Wadi Natrun is a fitting resting place for a Coptic monk, even one who reigned for 40 years as Pope. And Anba Bishoi, so often a haven (or exile) from the political world during Shenouda's life, will host him in death.