Egypt, the birthplace of communal monasticism, has a rich source of monasteries and monastic art. This volume takes the reader on a tour of the best preserved and most significant of these ancient centres, documenting in detail the richness of the Coptic heritage. The introduction examines the early Christian era, with background information on the origins of the Coptic Church as well as its rites and ceremonies, sketches of some of monasticism's founding figures, and accounts of some of the difficulties they faced, from religious schism to namadic attacks.
Gawdat Gabra has been the director of the Coptic Museum in Cairo since 1985 and is the author of several books and numerous articles on Coptic studies. He is the editor of Be Thou There: The Holy Family's Journey in Egypt (AUC Press, 2001).