Deir al-Surian

Deir al-Surian is the smallest of the 4 monasteries, probably founded in the 6th century.

After a theological dispute in
Deir Anba Bishoi about the importance of the Virgin Mary, a group of monks who supported her central position in Christian theology were forced to leave their community. They traveled only 500 meters and established their own monastery. In the 8th century, the theological dispute was settled, and the monks of the new monastery returned to Anba Bishoi. A wealthy Syrian Christian bought the property for monks from Syria. By the 16th century the Syrians had abandoned it, and the Coptic monks returned.

The monastery’s larger Church of al-Adra (the Virgin) dates back to 980. It has frescoes, many icons depicting saints of
Wadi al-Natrun. The qasr has monks’ cells, store rooms and a kitchen. There is a view of Deir Anba Bishiop from the top of the qasr. Deir al-Surian claims to holds the remains of 12 saints, as well as a lock of hair from Mary Magdalene.

In 927 AD, a learned monk from Deir al-Surian traveled to Syria and Mesopotamia in search of Christian manuscripts. He returned to Egypt three years later with 250 Syriac manuscripts, and Arabic and Coptic works. A library of these valuable documents was established in the monastery’s church. In the mid-19th century, these manuscripts were removed to Britain, the Vatican and Cairo.