The Church of Saint Samaan was carved into the side of Mokatum Mountain in 1972. The church was built to commemorate Saint Samaan. According to a small book I picked up outside of the church, Saint Samaan ‘was humble in appearance, simple in profession (he was a tanner), strong in essence, pure in heart, therefore God used him in one of the greatest miracles, the moving of Mokatum Mountain. Thus the sign of the Cross was lifeted up on high, an the church in Egypt was saved.’
As we walked in through a tunnel in the mountain leading to the seating area, some of the older women, dressed in black, were walking out, while others were still seated. There was singing which sounded like chanting and then a very loud, excited voice over the speaker. With a smaller audience, the preacher sounded like he was shouting, especially to Sebastian, who became a little upset. Luckily he didn’t speak very long and the singing commenced, which didn’t seem to bother him so much. While we were walking down the mountain through Garbage City, a woman stopped and offered to give us a ride to get a taxi (we weren’t in an area where taxis where available). She told us that she went to this church regularly and that the main service is on Thursday evening, with 20,000 people in attendance. That would be pretty spectacular, but I don’t think Sebastian would enjoy the crowd quite so much.
The front of the seating area, with the women in back exiting left. The older Coptic women wear all black, I’m not sure if this is jut for church or all the time. Check out the big screen for the big crowds!
For more photos, take a look at the Mokatum Mountain slide show in flickr.