The Coptic Orthodox Nun Who Visited Mount Athos

by Orthodoxy Cognate PAGE on December 18, 2016

in Featured News, News

From (L) Saintly Mother Tamav Irene of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, St. Pope Kyrillos VI of Alexandria & Saintly Bishop Irenaeus (Vassiliou) of Patara of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

From (L) Saintly Mother Tamav Irene of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, St. Pope Kyrillos VI of Alexandria & Saintly Bishop Irenaeus (Vassiliou) of Patara of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Special Courtesy – Fr Kyrillos Ibrahim – OCP News Service – 18/12/16

Visit –

Adapted from the book ‘Tamav Erene: A Torch of Love in the Coptic Monastic Life’.

Saintly Tamav Erene (Mother Irini) was the Abbess (Mother Superior) of the St. Philopateer Mercurius (Abu Sefein) Coptic Orthodox Convent in Old Cairo, Egypt.

Saintly Mother Tamav Erene at the Orthodox Monastic Republic of Mount Athos (Vatopedi Monastery)

One night after Tamav had finished praying, she started thinking about the resting place of the head of our blessed martyr, Abi Seifein (St. Mercurios). After a few minutes, the Martyr appeared in front of her. He took her on his horse to Mt. Athos in Greece and they entered the church of the Vatopedi Monastery. He pointed to a long reliquary and told her: “My head is here.” Tamav felt very happy, knelt before the holy relic and kissed it with great respect. Then, she smiled and said to the Martyr, “I wish it were in our convent.” He told her, “Let us pray about that.”

At that time, the Monastery and the whole island were holding a big celebration to honor the Martyr. A few minutes later, the monks carried the reliquary and went all around the monastery as a procession. This was accompanied by gunshots, a sign of respect for his military position. He used to be a supreme commander of the Roman armies. Some of the monks at the monastery saw Tamav, but did not see the Martyr. They were surprised and asked her, “Who are you? How did you come here?” (Woman are not allowed in the Orthodox Monastic Republic of Mount Athos). She understood them with the help of the Martyr who translated their words to her. She replied in English, that she was a Coptic Orthodox nun from Egypt. Tamav was very happy for her visit to the holy mountains. Later, the Martyr brought her back to her cell in Egypt.

Saintly Mother Tamav Irene, St. Pope Kyrillos VI of Alexandria & Saintly Bishop Irenaeus (Vassiliou) of Patara Incident

There are few other stories told by Tamav Irene. One of them is about the late lamented Greek Orthodox Bishop Irenaeus of Patara (Vassiliou) of Birmingham, England, who had a special relationship with the Coptic Orthodox Church in England. The Bishop was enthusiastic about unity between Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches. (Bishop Irenaeos of Patara, studied theology at Halki Theological School in Constantinople and was the Patriarchal deacon. He was a hegumen at Macheiras Monastery in Cyprus. Bishop Irenaeus served as a hierarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for over 25 years).

Once, Bishop Irenaeus had a vision of St. Pope Kyrillos VI (Pope St. Cyril VI of Alexandria – Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox CHurch), who gave him holy oil and asked him to visit Tamav Irene (she was a spiritual daughter of St. Pope Kyrillos) at the monastery of Martyr Abu Sufein, as well as to visit his shrine at the St. Mina Monastery. Bishop Irenaeus visited Tamav Irene in 1991. He told her about the vision he had (of St. Pope Kyrillos) in the presence of Bishop Misael and Dr. Ahmos Pahor. Bishop Irenaeus gave her the holy oil from St. Pope Kyrillos. This oil was mixed with another holy oil which was already in the custody of Tamav Irene. This oil is served for the sick and people suffering from various health problems.


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