In one of the small streets of Old Cairo, stands the convent of St. Mercurius or St Abu Seifein (The Saint with the two Swords). Many simple nuns, who have left their homes and their families for the sole purpose of praying and praising God, live there. They all wear veils as a sign of their abandonment of life and all its worries. They are dressed in black garments, not as a sign of mourning or distress but as a sign that they left everything and are no longer preoccupied with anything but what is essential for living. In this simple nunnery, the nuns devote all their lives for prayers and praises. They do some manual work and some simple crafts in order to cover the expenses of the nunnery.
Several years ago in the midst of these holy nuns, lived an Abbess called Tamav (Mother) Kereia Wassef. Mother Kereia was consecrated Mother Superior in 1929 and passed away at 9 pm on 15 Tout 1670 AM, 24 September 1962. All her life was in service and nurturing her children, the nuns. She would stay awake to guide and strengthen them spiritually and physically. Mother Kereia was known for her great love in reading the Bible and in singing praises. It was said that she memorized the Old and the New Testaments by heart, chapter by chapter. Whenever she talked, it would be about the teachings of the Bible or about the lives of the Saints. Bishops would often come and listen to her talking about God and they used to nickname her “St Paul”.
In this spiritual atmosphere, one of the rich people of Upper Egypt from Abu Korkas used to go to the nunnery carrying gifts. In the morning, he would stay in Cairo for his personal business and in the evening, he would go to the convent to enjoy Mother Kereia’s stories about the saints and listen to her talking about God’s great love and care. While staying at the convent, he used to feel as if he is abandoning his worldly life and laying it at Mother Kereia’s feet. He felt that he had laid his life in the hands of God to obtain renewed strength so that he would return to Upper Egypt with a peaceful mind and a soothed soul. Mother Kereia used to tell the man how God sends St. Abu Seifein to help and guard the convent. When Mother Erene Yassa became her successor as abbess of the convent, Mother Kereia used to appear to her at the beginning of her tenure in order to help her and guide her.
Edited and conflated from the following references:
> Short stories for the youth 215 – 233 (Fr Tadros Yacoub Malaty), story no. 233
> Tamav Erene: The Jewel of heaven and the beacon of monasticism (Book 1), p. 58