bandits by opening its bark to protect them. Since the fourth century CE, the site has attracted large numbers of pilgrims who chip off bits of bark and bring back pieces of the balsam that grows in the spring at the foot of the tree used to make holy oil to anoint priests. Cairo’s southern neighborhood of Ma‘adi has a site where the holy
family first reached the Nile and stayed in a house, which is now a church. However, because Alexandria had a large Jewish community, it is thought the family went to live in Alexandria and did not stay in the Roman fort of Babylon (from the original Pi-Hapi-n-On or the home of the god Hapi, the god of the Nile). Little is said about
their stay in Egypt in the New Testament, so it is not known where they went or lived.
This has given Christians license to create legends about it. Another church in Coptic Cairo (inside the walls of the Roman fort) is identified as the place where they hid in a cave, the Church of Abu Sarga or St. Sergius. Even Muslim Egyptians are proud of their country’s role in saving the holy family, and many houses have written above the door the Koranic passage about the flight to Egypt, “Enter her [Egypt] twice safe.”