The Monasteries of the Wadi Natrun, Egypt: A Personal and Monastic Journey

In January and February of 1996 I had the great good fortune of joining the team of American archeologists, faculty, and students who went to Wadi Natrun, Egypt; we were there to excavate the Monastery of Saint John the Little and study firsthandCoptic monasticism and Church history. Since I am a patristics scholar and third-order member of the Order of the Holy Cross (Anglican), and have been writing about early monasticism since my graduation from seminary in 1988, this trip was for me a per sonal monastic journey: an exciting chance to experience in the desert what I had learned from books, and an opportunity to participate in the history and spirituality of Egyptian monasticism. In this article I wish to combine historical research, on-site reporting, and personal reflection to suggest the historical importance and spiritual relevance of Coptic monasticism for those of us in the West.


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