St. Macarius, one of the founding fathers of monasticism, was born in the village of Shabsheer, Menuf, Egypt, around 300 A.D. (295 A.D. according to Coptic Orthodox Synaxarium) from good and righteous parents. His father's name was Abraham and his mother's name was Sarah and they had no son. In a vision at night, his father saw the angel of the Lord, who told him that God was about to give him a son, and his name will be known all over the earth, and he will have a multitude of spiritual sons. Shortly after this vision, they had a son and called him Macarius, which means "Blessed."

The history of the monastery of st. Macarius is accented by its responses to various attacks throughout history. The heyday of the monastery’s architecture begun after 438, when a tower of refuge (pammon) was built for the monks.

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