Three sand monuments sculpted by nature stand in the Australian desert

Dr Lisa Agaiby on Soul Search | Sacred landscapes – the desert

Earlier this month, Dr Lisa Agaiby (Academic Dean, Research Co-ordinator, and Senior Lecturer in Coptic Studies at St Athanasius College) was a guest on the ABC Radio National program, Soul Search. The episode is part of a series on Sacred Landscapes, which explores how the places we love shape our sense of the sacred.

The episode looks how deserts contribute to our spiritual life. For centuries people have found deserts spiritually transformative – not just for individuals but for whole communities.

Lisa talks about her experience visiting the desert monasteries in Egypt, how these monasteries originally took shape, and the biblical foundations of the desert landscape as a place for prayer.

Listen now



Celia Kemp is a writer and theologian living in Central Australia with a passion for Scripture, lay monasticism, and a theology arising from place. She previously worked as Deputy Coroner for the Northern Territory, and as the Anglican Board of Mission’s Reconciliation Coordinator.

Dr Lisa Agaiby is Senior Lecturer in Coptic Studies at St Anthanasius College, Melbourne.

Book: Lisa Agaiby and Tim Vivian (2021, Nov.) Door of the Wilderness: The Greek, Coptic, and Copto-Arabic Sayings of St. Antony of Egypt (Leiden: Brill)


  • Meredith Lake, Presenter
  • Nadyat El Gawley, Producer
  • Rohan Salmond, Producer
  • Russell Stapleton, Sound Engineer


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