The most famous sanctuary door in all the monasteries of Egypt is the door of the middle sanctuary, or the door of symbols. It is an iconostasis that expresses the relationship between the Church of Alexandria and the Church of Antioch. The inscription written in the Syrian language on the upper frame at the right side translates as “Honoring, glorifying, praising, and venerating the Holy Trinity Who is worshiped and is equal in essence.” Then a cross shows in the middle of the frame, and at the left side, there is another inscription which translates as “Concerned about building and erecting this altar Moses, the abbot of the monastery during the era of Pope Gabriel I, the 57th Patriarch in the year 914 AD, named after the Virgin Mary.
On the left frame, there are inscriptions which translate as, “God, who for the sake of His holy name, will reward them for their good deeds, and to every believer who participated in this altar and in this holy monastery, salvation and life, preservation for their children, mercy for their dead, and forgiveness for their sins.” The door consists of 6 shutters, divided into 7 sections, which are made of pine wood and engraved with exquisite drawings and inlaid with ivory.
In the first upper row, we find wooden icons for a group of saints, who are from right to left: Saint Severus – Saint Ignatius – Saint Mary the Theotokos – the icon of the Lord Christ – Saint Mark the Apostle – and finally, Saint Dioscorus. Here, we find that the Lord Jesus Christ is holding a book in his left hand and raising his right hand to grant the blessing. He was drawn in the form of a clean-shaven young man with a luminous halo around his head without a cross. We also find the Virgin Mary standing with her right foot forward and her right hand flat on her chest while holding with her left hand one of the folds of her dress. We also find that the icons of the first patriarch of each church and the patriarchs who faced persecution the most because of the heresy of Nestorius. Therefore, the second and fifth icons represent St. Mark the Apostle, the first Patriarchs of Alexandria and St. Ignatius the first Patriarchs of Antioch. We find that the left foot of St. Mark the Apostle is slightly advanced and it seems that his right hand is raised to his chest, but his left hand carries a book which he holds to his chest. As for the first and sixth icons, they represent Anba Sawirus, Patriarch of Antioch from 512AD to 518AD, and Pope Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria from 444AD to 454AD.
Then, in the following rows, we find decorative shapes with pictures of different crosses. Some believed that these decorative shapes could express the different stages that the church went through until now. It is said that the first row symbolizes the era of the spread of Christianity during the era of the Roman state and the era of martyrdom, and the second row symbolizes the era of the Apostolic Sees, which are: Alexandria – Jerusalem – Rome – Antioch – Constantinople – Carthage. As for the third row, a cross appears with a crescent around it, symbolizing the emergence of Islam and the entry of the Arabs into Egypt. And the fourth row shows a curved cross, symbolizing the era of the spread of heresies. As for the fifth row, it symbolizes spiritual apathy and the large number of sects. In the last row, the cross appears in the middle, as a sign of the unity of the Church, the union of churches, and the second coming of Christ (the expected and awaited).