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Is Egypt Now Home to the Largest Statue of the Virgin Mary?

August 14, 2023
Photo credit: Mena Zarif Photography
Photo credit: Mena Zarif Photography

The month of August marks one of the most beloved fasts for Coptic Orthodox Chrtisians living in Egypt and abroad: the Fast of the Virgin Mary. Stemming from their love for the Virgin Mary, Copts anticipate this 15-day fast every year, asking for her intercessions throughout. This year however, the month began with a celebration like no other.

Assiut, where one of Egypt’s holiest monasteries, Virgin Mary Monastery in Dronka, is located, received the largest statue of the Virgin Mary built to date.

Installed over a 15-metre high pedestal, the nine-metre tall statue was built by Gerges Algawly, an Egyptian sculptor and Professor of field and space sculpture and former head of the sculpture department at Minia University.

Inspired by ‘Our Lady of Lebanon’ in Harissa, Bishop Yoanes of Assiut asked Algawly to sculpt a statue of the Virgin Mary to be placed at the monastery.

While the preparation of the statue took two years, the statue was sculpted in three months, transported from Cairo to Assiut in 20 pieces, and reassembled on site.

Upon completion, the statue was received and celebrated by the monastery’s visitors and the people of Assiut, with hymns and praises that venerate the Virgin Mary.

Every year, dozens flock to visit Virgin Mary Monastery in Dronka, one of the final stops in the Holy Family Trail.

As told in the Bible, the Holy Family, Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus Christ fled from Palestine to Egypt to seek refuge from the persecution of the Jewish King Herod the Great. They stayed in Egypt for three years, traveling through a total of 11 of Egypt’s modern-day governorates, starting from North Sinai all the way south to Assiut.

The Trail of the Holy Family is currently being developed by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, to prepare the infrastructure of the Family’s 25 recognised stops in efforts to support and promote cultural and religious tourism in Egypt.

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