Monk's Cave Now
The cell was not confined within the Monastery walls at the Natrun Valley (Wady el Natrun), for instance, it is was spread throughout to four monasteries, which are El Sorian Monastery, El Baramos Monastery, Anba Bishoy Monastery, and Anba Maqar Monastery.
It was the fourteenth century AD ominous portent of the monasteries
Not Natrun Valley alone, but across all parts of Egypt, many numerous factors have contributed significantly in the destruction of many Coptic monasteries. Wood eating termites destroyed the monasteries, which we now witness the ruins resulting from such at Natrun Valley. Which lies to the south-east of Anba Bishoy Monastery (about five kilometers)?
Also, the spread of plague in Egypt resulted in the deaths of hundreds of monks and harvesting one after the other. As result, not many monks survived, in some monasteries, only one or two monks at most, remained, if not entirely consumed by the plague...
Until very recent era, there has been little change to the monasteries, except for some important and urgent repairs necessary…until the mid-twentieth century...
Construction began in the monasteries started being very noticeable, and took a significant role, as the first began at El Sorian Monastery… Anba Thawfelos the monastery Bishop and abbot, has built the first unique cell building in Egypt that was from concrete blocks building, four stories (now five stories) and inside the historical walls of the monastery. As the same blessed Bishop, (departed December 5th 1989AD), established many other establishments in El Sorian Monastery as well.
When His Holiness Pope Shenouda III became the 117th pope of Alexandria, he took upon himself the task of construction and reconstruction of the monasteries
Either in architecture or land reclamation, structures tanks, warehouses, guest house, and retreat houses. His Holiness has overseen the construction details and plans the cells himself.
Never had we read in the entire history of the Patriarchs for the reconstruction of a comprehensive and broad as the one we saw in the work of God with the blessing of Pope Shenouda III. It does not include the reconstruction of monasteries as the only ones, but many other monasteries; metropolitan and non-metropolitan. It is for the glory of the ancient monasteries and the devastated monasteries which ceased to exist once again to life and to be re-constructed.
In the monasteries of Anba Bishoy and El Sorian, His Holiness Pope Shenouda, built numerous buildings to include large numbers of cells, which could reach sixty cells. Each building contains several floors; each floor has walk way in front of the cells, and large water tank on the top of every building.
El Baramos monastery also witnessed an over sized building containing thirty- six cells. The new building resembled that of the ones at El Sorian and Anba Bishoy monasteries. The number of these building kept on growing rapidly one after the other.
Each cell contains two rooms, leading to each other, one as living room for the hospitality of the monks, and the other for prayer, read and write, in some of the newer buildings, kitchen and bathroom were added to the cells.
Isolated cells, and caves:
I’m in the wilderness alone have no business with everyone else
In the stone cracks of the hill I had hidden my burrow
I will move out of it one day and then move to unknown place
A poem for His Holiness Pope Shenouda III
Besides the newer shared cells, also appeared the individually isolated cells.
For the first time, and during the time of HH Pope Shenouda III, the individual and isolated cells were found, outside the monastery walls, after it disappeared for over ten centuries. It started first at the Soriane monastery and reached forty five cells, one for His Holiness Pope Shenouda III.
Also appeared the individual cells belonging to solitary and soon the surrounding mountains of El Natrun Valley were filled with them especially El Sorian and Anba Bishoy monasteries.
Each one of these cells contains two rooms, small kitchen, and smaller bathroom. These kinds of cells look like the Huts, which have grown and become residences. The only differences is building materials and, of course, the time.
We also found the spiritual life progress rapidly; we believe that had spread to a number of caverns, some anchorites in the same region, Natrun Valley, those anchorites follow the same old regime which to return on Saturday and Sunday tirelessly weekly to attend the church of the monastery and get needed food and water, others may last weeks to unity.
There are now several ascetics live in caves around their monasteries, such as El Sorian, El Baramos, Anba Paula, and Anba Antonious………...
And others, but some monasteries and as the result of the vast areas of agricultural land surrounded entirely, such as El Moharque monastery making it difficult to dig their caves or build cells outside of the united walls.