Monastery of Saint Pishoy

Saint Pishoy’s Monastery is the most famous monastery of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, named after Pishoy. It is the easternmost of the four current monasteries of Wadi el Natrun.

Location of Monastery of Saint Pishoy

The monastery of Saint Pishoy (also spelt Bishoy, Pshoi, or Bishoi) lies in Wadi Al Natrun, Wady Al Natroun, Beheira Governorate 22, Egypt.

Foundation and ancient history

Pishoy founded this monastery in the fourth century. On December 13, 841 (4 Koiak, 557 AM), Pope Joseph I of Alexandria fulfilled Pishoy’s wishes. It moved his body and Paul of Tammah’s to this monastery. Both bodies were initially interred at the Monastery of Pishoy in Deir el-Bersha. Today, the two bodies lie in the main church of the sanctuary.

Modern History

Today, the Monastery of Saint Pishoy contains the relics of Pishoy, Paul of Tammah, and relics of other saints. Eyewitnesses recount that the body of Saint Pishoy remains incorrupt. Recently, Shenouda III was buried here after his death in March 2012.

The monastery has five churches; the main one has a name after Pishoy. The other churches have their names after Mary, Abaskhiron the Soldier, Saint George, and the archangel Michael. A keep surrounds the monastery. Monks built this keep in the fifth century to protect the monastery against the attacks by Barbarians. An initial castle was built early in the twentieth century. However, later, Pope Shenouda III replaced it with a four-storied castle. In addition, the monastery contains a well known as the Well of the Martyrs.

According to the Coptic tradition, the Berbers washed their swords in this well after killing the forty-nine Martyrs of Scetis. Furthermore, they threw their bodies in the well. Consequently, Christians retrieved the bodies and buried them in the nearby Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great.

Under Shenouda III, Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria from 1971 to 2012, the Orthodox church purchased new land around the monastery. Furthermore, the church developed it and designed it with poultry, cattle breeding and dairy facilities. Christian engineers restored ancient buildings and churches, as well. They rebuilt cells for monks, retreat houses, a papal residence, annexes for a reception area, an auditorium, conference rooms, fences, and gates.