The Holy Family left Bahnassa and traveled south until it reached the town of Samalut in Minya Governorate, and crossed the Nile to the east to the Conopolis area, which is located near the monastery of the Virgin Mary in Gabal Al-Tayr, approximately 3 km south of the Bani Khaled Ferry, where the family settled in a cave and spent three days there. From the Gabal al-Tayr area, the Holy Family boarded the boat and crossed the Nile River to the other bank to the Ashmunayn area.
The origin of this place, where the Holy Family stayed in for 3 days, was a cave on a mountain in the middle of the desert, with a long staircase leading to it. This place was an ancient Roman temple carved into the rocks, with a height of one floor, and before that, it was a pharaonic place, because pharaonic and Greek inscriptions were found on the columns. After the presence of the Holy Family in it, it stayed intact for 300 years, until the Church of Mother Mary was established there and a monastery was established around it.
There are several names to this place, among them: Gabal al-Tayr, Deir al-Kaf, or Deir al-Bakrah
In the tenth century AD, Al-Shobashti wrote a description of the monastery and of the Buzzer bird, which migrated to this area, giving the monastery its name “Monastery of Jabal al-Tayr” in reference to the migratory birds to the area.
Al-Maqrizi also mentions in his book “The Maqrizi Plans” (Part IV), justifying the reason for calling this mountain “Gabal al-Tayr.” He said: It was called Jabal al-Tayr because thousands of “Booqiris” buzzer birds used to gather in this place during their migration from one place to another and from one continent to another regularly every year, a white-feathered bird with a long cream colored beak with fringes around its neck, and it resembled Abu Qerdan bird, (the farmers friend).
In the twelfth century AD, Abu al-Makarim pointed out that the monastery was erected in the place where the blessed rock was found. This rock had the hand of Jesus imprinted on it.
Pope Timothy (the 26th Patriarch), recorded, in the fourth century AD, the Holy Family’s visit to this mountain and what happened to it, noting that when the boat carrying the Holy Family along the river Nile was crossing down this mountain, a big rock was falling on the boat, but Jesus supported it with his hand, so his palm was imprinted on the rock and the mountain took it second name after this incident, called “Monastery of Gabal al-Kaf”.
It is mentioned that Amalrick I, King of Jerusalem, came to this place in 1168 AD and cut a part of the rock on which the palm of Christ was imprinted and transported it to Syria.
As for Pope Theophilus XXIII, he mentioned that this rock remained in the place, until travelers took it during the British invasion of Egypt, and it is now located in the British Museum in the Department of Egyptian Antiquities or the Department of Stones and its dimensions are 70 cm by 50 cm.
As for the third name, “Deir Al-Bakrah” came from the presence of a wooden box that was lifted by ropes on a pulley to the top of the mountain, to transport people to the monastery, and that is why it was called “Deir Al-Bakrah”. In the early thirteenth century AD, 166 stone steps were made to reach the monastery.
This monastery was full of monks until the middle of the nineteenth century AD, and some travelers visited and wrote about it, among them: Vanslip 1672 AD, FL Norden 1740 AD, Richardson 1816 AD, Lord Curzon 1838 AD, and Father Henry the Jesuit wrote about it too in year 1957 AD.