The monastery is located at the isolated hillsides of Gabel el Naqlun less than 16 km south of Fayoum town overlooking low green land.
The Monastery is also known as abu khashaba which backs to an old story which says that there is a piece of wood in the ceiling of the church of the Archangel Ghabriel, which was a sign of the Nile flood. In the time of the mass, if this piece gives a lot of water so this year will be at prosperity but if it gives a little of water so this year will be in famine. It is considered one of the oldest Coptic monasteries in El Fayoum probably established in the 4th century by Bishop Aur the first.
The foundation of the monastery is related to the Coptic legend of Aur the illegitimate son of the queen’s daughter and Abashit the magician. Throughout this story the angel GABRIEL appears as the guardian of Aur ,who was led to the mountain of al-Naqlun ,where he built a church of Saint Gabriel .Later,Aur was ordained priest and consecrated bishop of the monastery from
the 4th to the 6th centuries. Also Saint Samuel escaped with other monks to the mountains in this area for about three and a half years.
The church of Archangel Gabriel
The church was dedicated to Archangel Gabriel. The church’s architectural form suggests that it dates back to the tenth or the twelfth century .It was built of burnt brick and arranged on the plan of a basilica rectangular in shape with three aisles. The main entrance leads to a vestibule then into a narrow corridor terminates at another small door opens to the church itself. The church is divided into three aisles by two similar colonnades every one of them consists of three circular columns with Corinthian crowns which almost date back to an older church also the church contains a wooden ceiling with geometric designs
It is obvious that the current church was largely rebuilt and almost completely redecorated during the second part of 19th century or the beginning of the 20th century although most of the material used perhaps came from the two former churches at Naqlun. Dedicated to saint Gabriel the church has three sanctuaries the middle one is semi circular and decorated with small columns dedicated to the Archangel Gabriel while the two others are dedicated to the Holy virgin Mary and Saint George
The church is divided from east to west into four sections by wooden screens.
The church is famous for its middle 11th century wall paintings which were covered over with plaster for centuries until they were rediscovered during the restoration process in 1991 . There are three groups of these wall paintings, the first is in the outer corridor while the others are in the northern aisle of it. These paintings are considered extraordinary patterns of medieval Coptic art accomplished with super skills .They represent the virgin and the child Jesus, apostles and Saints , Archangel Gabriel ,Saint Mercurius ,Saint Simeon and Saint George in a fabulous composition of standing figures or at the power and elegance of horses of the equestrian saints.
In July 1991 twelve naturally -preserved bodies were discovered about 150 meters southwest of the monastery which are known with El-Fayoum Martyrs. The remains of these martyrs lie in a side room of the main church .They are encased in ornamented red velvet in glass boxes. These martyrs are murdered monks , women and children , however there is no information about who they were or who killed them.
Visit times :
Thursdays – Fridays – Saturdays – Sundays