Monastery of St. Savvas the Sanctified (Alexandria, Egypt)

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The Holy Patriarchal Monastery of St. Savvas the Sanctified, located in Alexandria, Egypt, is the principal monastic institution of the Church of Alexandria and houses the Patriarchal offices. It traces its origins to the fourth century.


In antiquity before the area on which the monastery is situated became Christian, it was an area dedicated to pagan gods, either Mithra or Apollo. In the late 310s, a Christian church dedicated to either the Holy Apostles or the Apostle and Evangelist Mark was established on the site. Within a few years monks began to assemble around the church and soon cells were built and the beginning of a monastery became evident. When the schism that developed within the Church of Alexandria grew in the sixth century the monastery became the seat of the Chalcedon Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria.

Through the centuries the monastery has suffered the ravages of nature and man. During the middle of the seventh century the monastery was destroyed by an earthquake, but was rebuilt with funds given in the name of St. Savvas by a wealthy Alexandrian named Savvas. The monastery was dedicated to St. Savvas the Sanctified as he was said to have lived in Alexandria before he moved to the monastery he established in Jerusalem[1].

St. Savvas Monastery was again damaged by the Arabs during the ninth century. Renovations were completed by 889, during the patriarchate of Michael II. The monastery, again, was re-built during the time of Patr. Joachim I in the sixteenth century.

In 1652, St. Savvas Monastery was attacked and burned with all the monks. Patr. Paisius began re-building the monastery in 1676. Early in the first decade of the nineteenth century St. Savvas Monastery was saved from destruction by Napoleon when Patr. Parthenius II (Pancosta) of Alexandria resisted Napoleon's threats.

During the remainder of the nineteenth and most of the twentieth centuries various renovations were made to the monastery. However, by the second half of the twentieth century, the condition of the monastery had deteriorated greatly. Patr. Nicholas VI decided to demolish all the monastery, except for the church, and to build a new monastery complex. The restoration of the facilities of St. Savvas the Sanctified Monastery was completed in the last years of the twentieth century during the patriarchate of Patr. Petros VII.

On January 18, 2010, Patr. Theodoros II led the inauguration of the new museum of the Monastery of St. Savvas, that was dedicated to the memory of his predecessor Patr. Nicholas VI. The museum has become the repository of many of the patriarchate's treasures including historically valued icons, publications, and patriarchal and hierarchal vestments.

Through the years St. Savvas Monastery has functioned as the Patriarchal seat, a hospital and clinic, a refuge, a school, a hostel and home for the poor, a quarantine center, and as a cemetery for patriarchs, clergy, monks, and Orthodox and other Christians.