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The Wadi al-Natrun, a geological depression west of the Nile delta, is one of the cradles of Coptic monasticism. In the 4th century hermits were retreating here is search of asceticism and solitude, but soon the monasteries that developed out of these anchoretic communities, became centres of ecclesiastical culture. One of them, Deir al-Surian (the Syrian monastery) holds a special place among them.
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