Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Shrine of St. George in Coptic Cairo

We visited a part of Coptic Cairo last weekend.  The Coptics were the ancient Christians of Egypt.  About 10% of Cairo's population is still Christian and the churches and shrine we visited in Coptic Cairo is still actively used.  The Shrine of St. George is in the same complex as the Church of St. George which is pictured below.  We haven't been inside the church yet, or been to the Coptic Museum which is next to it, but will visit them another day.  This section of old Cairo was built around the 10th Century.  It is a fascinating place to explore.
The shrine of St. George is right below the convent of St. George so the nuns would have their rooms above the area pictured below.  According to ancient writings, St. George was a Christian martyr.   Jeff said he read that he was fabled to have slayed a dragon.  (I'm assuming this is a metaphor for some historical event, but I haven't researched this yet.)  

Here is a link that gives you more information about this shrine:
Entrance to Chapel of St. George

One must take off their shoes before entering the small cluster of rooms in the shrine.  People were saying prayers while lighting candles, waving the vapors from the alter toward their faces, and were religiously wrapping the chains that supposedly once held St. George around themselves.  Some Coptics believe that wearing the chains that had been worn by martyrs is a source of holy blessing as well as miracles.

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