File Photo: Holy family journey through Egypt (Photo Courtesy of SIS)
Egypt has received a group of Italian tourists who are visiting the country to embark on a tour of the path the Holy Family of Jesus Christ took through Egypt, as the country continues to promote international Christian pilgrimage.
In an official statement, Egypt’s tourism ministry said the chief of its Tourism Authority Ahmed Youssef received on Sunday the Italian tourists, who travelled to Egypt through Italy’s National Italian Union for Transporting the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines (UNITALSI), a union specialised in organising religious trips.
The visit is part of the ministry's efforts to incorporate the trip from Bethlehem through Egypt by the Holy Family (Joseph, the Virgin Mary and Jesus) in the global religious tourism map.
Accompanying the tourists are a number of religious leaders, including the Bishop of the Italian city of Viterbo, the Bishop of the Coptic Church in Rome and Torino, as well as the head of UNITALSI and a delegation of Italian journalists.
The tourists will conclude their trip on 21 June.
Egypt’s Minister of Tourism Rania El-Mashat welcomed the tourists, and said that the ministry has organised a programme for the delegation that includes visiting a number of locations as part of retracing the path of the Holy Family through Egypt.
According to Youssef, the visit comes a few months after the ministry organised an orientation trip for the UNITALSI delegation to visit Egypt.
Last February, the Italian religious travel association said it would be organising religious trips to Egypt.
The story of the Holy Family’s journey from Palestine to Egypt has long been recounted by historians and authors around the world, with many seeing the journey as an important part of Egyptian history, not Christian history.
Egyptians look with fondness and pride on the passage of the holy mother and her child through the land of Egypt, and the fact that they found solace there.