(plus THE COPTIC CHURCH TRADITION; The Holy Family’s longest stay in Egypt: Muharraq Monastery)
This prayer, known in Latin as Sub tuum Praesidium and first found in a Greek papyrus, c. 250 - 300 A.D., is the oldest known prayer to the Virgin.
We turn to you for protection,
Holy Mother of God.
Listen to our prayers
and help us in our needs.
Save us from every danger,
glorious and blessed Virgin.

* Beneath Thy Protection (Greek: Ὑπὸ τὴν σὴν εὐσπλαγχνίαν; Latin: Sub tuum præsidium) is the oldest preserved extant hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Theotokos. The hymn is well known in many Roman Catholic and Orthodox countries and is often a favourite song used along with Salve Regina.
The earliest text of this hymn was found in a Coptic Orthodox Christmas liturgy of the third century. It is written in Greek and dates to approximately 250. It is used in the Coptic liturgy to this day, as well as in the Armenian, Byzantine, Ambrosian, and Roman Rite liturgies. It was part of Sulpician custom that all classes ended with a recitation of this prayer.
Besides the Greek text, ancient versions can be found in Coptic, Syriac, Armenian and Latin. "Praesidium" is translated as "an assistance given in time of war by fresh troops in a strong manner."
The former medieval and post-medieval practice in several dioceses, especially in France, was to use the Sub tuum as the final antiphon at Compline instead of the Salve Regina and in the Rite of Braga where it is sung at the end of Mass.
The Holy Family left Gabal at-Tayr and returned to the other bank of the river Nile where they sailed south till they arrived at Hermopolis. They did not stay in Hermopolis for long, for they soon mounted their beasts again and departed in the direction of Philes, which is now known as Dairut el-Shareef, their first stop in Asyut governorate.
According to the Coptic tradition, a carpenter named Dianus hosted them in Philes. Dianus had a sick child who was healed by the blessed power of Jesus; besides, the presence of Jesus caused idols in the village to fall apart. The two incidents sent the powerful men of the village into rage, so they sent soldiers to capture the strangers.
News reached Dianus, he managed to secure them passage to escape in the early morning, shortly they arrived at Cusae, now known as el-Qusiya. When the people of Cusae hunted them down, the family fled to the nearby village of Meir. It was then when God made a revelation to Joseph telling him to ascend the western mountain, and they did. They were followed by two thieves, one of which felt pity for Mary who was sick and in pain at the time, so he returned what he had stolen from her, and the family spent the night in a deserted house on the mountain top.
The morning sun had just shone upon the small Family when one of them saw a dry and deserted well. Fresh water flew back into the well when Jesus blessed it, making the place suitable for long-term living. No pursuits, thieves or idols collapsing here. Joseph the Carpenter decided to build a hut using palm fronds, which would later become a church, the first church in human history. As days go by, it would become a monastery, home to dozens of monks. Today, it is called Muharraq Monastery...
This was the ancient church, the first church in history, where Christ lived safely for six months and five days and where he finally slept in peace after a difficult journey. This is where his virgin mother could rest and close her eyes, maybe for the first time since she fled her home in fear, moved her baggage from village to city and from land to water. Only here could Joseph the Carpenter build a home for his small family. Only here was he finally relieved that he could protect them and that God’s promise was fulfilled. And here is where blessed Mary settled, too.
This is where the Holy Family could rest, but not for long because an angel came to Joseph to tell him that their difficult journey was over. In a blessed night, the angel came to Joseph in a dream with glad tidings, telling him to go back home. 
Herod had died and his death announced the end of the evil persecution of Jesus’s followers and the madness of pursuing the Family. Jesus laid the grounds for his first church here and then began the easy journey back. No mountains or caves, nor difficult roads and no hiding.

By: Sara Allam..READ MORE:
SUB TUUM PRAESIDIUM SUB TUUM PRAESIDIUM Reviewed by Francisco Nascimento on 02:21 Rating: 5

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