Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Last Anchorite | Egypt

An anchorite is someone who, for religious reasons, withdraws from secular society so as to be able to lead an intensely ascetic and prayer-oriented life. In other words, a religious hermit with a "fixed address'.

This 19 minutes-long documentary features the story of Father Anthony El Lazarus, a Coptic monk who lives in seclusion in the Red Sea mountains, in a 4th-century monastery about 200 miles southeast of Cairo, Egypt. He's former university lecturer in literature and philosophy, and spent 40 years as an atheist.

This is an ancient tradition since early Christians flocked to the Egyptian deserts where Copts had already embraced the idea of a solitary, devout Christian life. It's accepted that he early Christians were inspired by the eremitic (reclusive) traditions of the Hebrews.

The Coptic Church is based on the teachings of Saint Mark who brought Christianity to Egypt during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero in the first century. He was one of the four evangelists and wrote the oldest canonical gospel. Christianity was the religion of the vast majority of Egyptians from 400–800 A.D. and of the majority after the Muslim conquest until the mid-10th century and remains the faith of a significant minority population. 

With wonderful cinematic skills, filmmaker Remigiusz Sowa captures the essence of the reclusive monastic life led by Father Anthony and those like him in the isolated monastery in the Red Sea Mountains.