Khedive Ismail inaugurated the Suez Canal in a legendary opening ceremony on November 16, 1869 AD. Kings and Emperors of the world were invited to this ceremony, including Empress Eugenie, wife of Emperor Napoleon III of France – who is of Spanish origin – and she attended alone without the emperor because of his preoccupation, and arrived shortly before the ceremony. She expressed her desire to visit “Luxor” and the tree of Mary in Matareya – which was standing in the middle of a field of balsam.
The Egyptian government organized this trip for her, and she visited the tree on October 18, 1869, and then went to the ancient Church of the Virgin Mary in Mostorod, where there is the well from which the Holy Family also drank.
Hussein Pasha Ismail supervised the organization of this visit, and she was received in Matareya by the priest of the Church of the Virgin in Mostorod and the teacher “Saad Ibrahim Al-Sarraf.” Despite his old age, history remembers that they received her while riding on decorated horses. They welcomed the Empress, who was blessed from the tree and drank from the water of the well. Back then they say that she visited the copts houses in matareya area and attended one wedding.