As Christianity took hold in Egypt, churches, monasteries, shrines and hermitages soon flourished. Great numbers of pilgrims and scholars flocked to view, record, and participate in Christian customs. In return, the Egyptian monks voluntarily guided them. The sacred sites offered the faithful a place for worship, Christian teaching and asceticism. In Late Antiquity, Egypt was a major Mediterranean commercial centre, inextricably tied to the pilgrim routes to the Holy Land. Its population was involved in vibrant social and economic activities and year-round pilgrimages. The various shrines scattered around Egypt indicate the popularity of Egyptian monasticism and the effectiveness of their hospitality network.
Painting from a prayer niche in Kellia depicting a foliate cross. 6th – 7th century AD.
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