On 7 November 2009, Alex Med organized a conference on “Sacred Places and Popular Practices in the Mediterranean” at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s Auditorium. The conference was held by three speakers.
The first speaker delivered a lecture about Orthodox Christian holidays in places of ancient shrines. Major sanctuaries of antiquity, especially in southern Greece (Delphi, Olympia, Athens, Delos) where Panhellenic games were taking place mainly, gathered every four years, both for participation and assistance to the games, and for worship Gods.
With the end of the ancient world, the shrines have stopped working and Christianity gradually spread in the same places, and shrines. Places of worship of the Olympian pantheon gave them up to new martyrs and saints, Christian churches were built almost in the same places. The sites have continued to shelter places of pilgrimage and worship. The presentation is limited to the major shrines of the ancient world through which we see the celebrations and rituals. (Eleusis, Patras, Athens, Chios, Delos, Delphi).
The second speaker gave a lecture on Sacred Places and Popular Practices in Greco-Roman Alexandria. She also talked about the relationship between the geographic location, the social context and the worship. She also discussed how and why a place becomes sacred, and why it stopped being sacred?
In the presentation, three main worships were analyzed: the dynastic cult including the worship of Alexander the Great and the Ptolemies from the early Hellenistic period, the cult of Isis Pharia the protector of sailors from the 1st century BC. - 5th century AD. and the cult of Saint Menas in early Christian times.
The third speaker gave a lecture entitled Sufi Moulids and Islamic Ritual practices in Alexandria. Moulids are a celebration held in honour of a saint or a pious character in Egypt and other Arabic countries.
The origin of this practice goes back to the period of the Fatimy dynasty in Egypt. The development and institutionalization of Egyptian Sufism especially during the Medieval period led to an implementation of the phenomenon that arrived until nowadays.
In Alexandria, moulids are especially held during the summer, the most important ones are : Abu El Abbas El Mursy, Sidi Bishr, Sidi Kamal, Sidi Mohamed El- Rahal and Sidi Gaber.
Most of these characters were influential personalities of the Sufi order of the Shadhlyya, founded in Alexandria by Ali Abu Hasan al-Shadhily during the 13th century AC. For its thousand year tradition, the Shadhlyya is one of the main Sufi order in Alexandria.