THIS is believed by the Coptic and Greek Christians to be the very tree beneath which the holy family rested when they fled from Bethlehem into Egypt to avoid the persecution of Herod. The extreme age of this sycamore is so obvious, and the tradition is from so remote a period, that, however improbable the tradition, the feeling is scarcely to be envied which would destroy so harmless and so sacred a superstition. This tree is situated in the village of Metereah, close to Heliopolis, the On of Scripture: and its foot is a fountain of water, said to have been originally salt, but converted to a pure and sweet spring by the sanctity of those who were sheltered here.

Devotees, however, have not been deterred by its holiness from cutting their names and initials on every available spot on its withered trunk;  yet neither such folly, nor time, which has left its ruins only a cluster of vast fragments, has been able to check the luxuriant foliage of some still vigorous and spreading branches which mark its truly perennial character.