Saint Samaan
The Tanner Monastery


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The Buliding of St.Samaan Church In Mokattam Mountain

1) The Trash Collectors in Mokattam.
2) A Trash Collector calls a minister.
3) The Confirmation of God of the calling
4) Fleeing Like Jonah.
5) The Miracle of a Whirlwind that Carried a Heavenly Message.
6) Choosing the site of the church.
7) Building a Church of Tin.
8) Replacing Tin with Bricks.
9) The Present Church Building.
10) The miracle of the water needed for building.
11) The miracle of healing a smashed head.
12) His Holiness the Pope visits the church.

"He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of their people." (Ps 113:8)

1) The Trash Collectors lives on a Hill on the Mokattam

At the end of 1969 his Excellency the governor of Cairo issued a decree to the end of removing all the trash collectors of Cairo to one of the hills of the Mokattam to live there. So they built themselves primitive houses, simply huts of tin that are called in their vernacular "Zaraayib" (namely pigsties). They were thus named after the place where donkeys and pigs live, and all the other livestock they reared up; such as goats and cattle.

The number of the trash collectors that live in that area reached about 15,000 according to the research of the International Bank which was carried out in July, 1987. But, by the grace of God, this number has doubled now.

Every person had a primitive trash cart that looked like a wooden box carried on two wheels and pulled by two donkeys, or more, because of the difficult hill up to the mountain which was not paved in the past.

These trash collectors collect trash from the houses of most sectors of Cairo, and upon returning to their huts, they sort out the trash and classify it. They pick out from the trash all that is fitting for pigs and cattle to eat, as for the paper, glass, plastic, cloth and stuff like that, they are resold to specialized tradesmen, after they are sorted out, and the trash collectors live on what they get from selling them.

2) A Trach Collector Calls a Minister

A Trash Collector named Qiddees Ageeb Abd Al-Maseeh used to collect trash from the area of Shubra, and used to meet a certain minister, who told him about the life with God and enjoying His love and grace through repen- tance.

Qiddees invited this minister to visit the Zabbaleen (the Garbage City) area in the Mokattam, and he repeated this invitation for the period of two years, from 1972-1974. But the minister would not respond.

3) Good Confirms Calling

On the morning of the first Friday in February 1974, this trash collector met the same minister, and urged him to visit the area. The minister, then, heard the voice of God inside him confirming that this calling was from Him.

The minister asked the trash collector how he could reach this area, and he told him to take a bus to the foot of the Mokattam mountain and to wait for the bus line that would take him to the Zaraayib area.

4) Feleeing Like John

The minister went to the bus stop and instead of taking the bus going to the Mokattam he thought better of it and tried to escape like Jona, he got on the bus going to the opposite direction: to Matariya!

But the divine inner voice repeated its demand to get off this bus and go to the Zaraayib, as he was told before. He obeyed and, when he reached the terminal, he found Qiddees waiting for him. He went up the hill, on which the Zaraayib were erected.

At the entrance of this area, while the trash carts were tremendously active, carts going up and others coming down, a great number of men, boys, and girls; some of them were driving the carts while others helped push the donkey uphill against the difficulty of the road, the minister stood overwhelmed by a strange feeling that God wanted to do something in this area! But what is it that God wanted in particular? He did not know. Therefore, he asked the trash collector to take him to a quiet place to pray.

He took him to the highest place of this area, and there he found a big gap under a huge rock. It was a strange cave (which is now in the monastery of Saint Samaan the Tanner). But the minister found it a suitable place for prayer, and he kept on praying in it every Sunday for three weeks, without ever talking to any of the trash collectors that filled the place and spread themselves over that part of the mountain like locusts.

He would ask God in his prayers, "Lord, what do you want me to do?" (Acts 9:6). In the third week, a strange thing happened...

5) The Miracle of a Whirlwind that Carried a Heavenly Message.

In the third week, the minister went up to the cave, taking along two other persons. While they were praying, a whirlwind arose causing all the paper in the area and the trash to be strewn everywhere. When the whirlwind subsided, a small piece of paper fell before the three, one of them took it and gave to the minister to read its content. To their surprise, it was a page from Acts 18 ! The minister's eyes fell upon the verses, which read: "The Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no-one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." (Acts 18:9,10)

The minister considered this to be God's voice speaking to him, or as H. H. Pope Shenouda III has commented, "It was not a mere piece of paper, but a heavenly edict." From that time on, the minister began to evangelize to this area seriously.

6) Choosing the site of the church.

The minister, together with another one, started to look for a place to minister, even to Sunday School kids. They stood in a place at the edge of the area, and the first minister remembered what he had heard from his Father Confessor when the latter preached, reiterating the saying in Joshua 1:3, "I will give you every place where you set your foot."

In simplicity of faith, he began to set his foot on the place where he was standing without telling his colleague anything about what was going on inside him, especially that he found him moving in the opposite direction. Then they met while turning around the place in opposite direction. the minister asked his colleague what he was doing, for which he gave an answer that astonished the other minister. he said, "Isn't it written in Joshua that "I will give you every place where you set your foot"?!!

The minister was assured that this was the place that God appointed for them as a site of a church in the Mokattam, which has now come true.

7) Building a Church of Tin.

After choosing the place, work was begun on a church made of tin, with a roof made of reeds, just like the roofs of the rest of the area, which brought back memories of the manger in Bethlehem.

The ministry to the Sunday School kids started, and on the first day eleven kids attended. After that a general meeting for men and women was started. The attendance on the first day, which was April 13. 1974, wsa nine people.

Even though this was not an encouraging beginning, yet it pushed these two ministers to pray all the more, and visit the huts one by one, speaking with everyone about the love of the Lord Jesus Christ and about the way to repentance.

After nearly five months, the place could no longer contain all who came. The Lord had blessed the work through the prayers of the Saint of this mountain, Samaan the Tanner.

8) Replacing Tin with Bricks.

When the place became too small, the two ministers, together with a third one, whom the Lord had added to them, were obliged to enlarge the place by the help of the Lord. So they replaced the tin with bricks and reinforced concrete. But the roof was made of canvas, which made the place look like the Tabernacle on top of the holy mountain!

9) The Present Church Building.

After the church was completely built with bricks, the minister went, along with his Father Confessor, to H. H. Pope Shenouda III and told him everything that had been done. He greatly rejoiced and encouraged his children the ministers and gave a certain sum of money to build a roof of concrete.

However, something happened that obliged the ministers to tear down that building and erect the present church, which was the third attempt to build a place suitable for the holiness of God.

It so happened the attendance multiplied in an amazing way, and multitudes came to the church, which made the place too small for them all. This compelled the minister to turn to a helpful architect, who planned a wonderful design for the church. Thus the building started till it became the lofty one we see now covering an area of about 1000 sq.m.

Many miracles took place to bring this gorgeous building to its present state.

10) The miracle of the water needed for building.

After buying the building materials, namely gravel, cement, steel, and bricks, work could still not begin due to the need for water. This was especially so in that desert area whose inhabitants could not find water for their necessary needs at that time.

Fervent prayers were lifted up and the miracle took place. One evening when the minister was returning, he found at the edge of the paved road leading up to the Mokattam City a tractor pulling a huge water container. He asked the driver to provide him with the water necessary for the building of the church. The man agreed on the spot with no hesitation. This was the assistance of heaven!

11) The miracle of healing a smashed head.

One of the miracles that the Lord performed during the building of the church was the following. On Monday January 19. 1977, after the tractor had unloaded its cargo of water, and while trying to back up, there was a child standing behind it named Adham Kamel Abd Al-Maseeh, aged 6 years, who fell under the huge container's wheels. His head was bashed in under them, and he was hurried to the hospital in a coma. The evening meeting was turned into a prayer meeting for Adham, so that the Lord might perform a miracle and heal him.

On the fourth day, the two ministers went to visit the child in the hospital and found him lying still on the bed and his head was smashed, while blood was gushing out of his nose, ears, and mouth.

The two minister stood by the bed, asking the Lord to perform a miracle to this child, and create him a new head, through the intercession of Saint Samaan the Tanner the patron Saint of this church.

After seven days, the Lord glorified Himself and answered the prayer. Adham returned home in good health; he remains a witness to our living God who can do everything and there is nothing too difficult for Him.

12) His Holiness the Pope visits the church.

June 18, 1977. Was an unforgettable day in the history of the church, for on that day H. H. Pope Shenouda III visited the church.  His visits to the church were repeated every year on the feast of Saint Samaan the Tanner from 1978 till 1980.

The church of Saint Samaan the Tanner receives a special attention from His Holiness.

My Great God, I thank You because you are the same yesterday, today and for ever. You are with us always and unto the end of the age. You build Your church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. You lift it up for ever, meeting all its needs according to Your riches in glory. I pray for this vineyard, which Your right hand has planted: Make it good and establish it, so that it might be fruitful and that its fruit might continue in it. Through the prayers of our father Saints, and our father, the man of faith, Samaan the Tanner, do we pray. Amen.
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