Although Abusir Bana had a reputation as late as the Byzantine period for its devotion to Isis, Christianity also has a long tradition in the town. One of the bishops Melitius was able to win over to his side in 325 (see MELITIAN SCHISM) was Hermaion, bishop of Kynopolis and Abusir Bana (Munier, 1943, p. 3). By the middle of the fifth century at the latest, there was an orthodox bishop in Abusir Bana as evidenced by the attendance of Bishop Athanasius at the Council of EPHESUS in 449 and the Council of CHALCEDON in 451 (Munier, 1943, pp. 19-20).
JOHN OF NIKIOU reports that at the time of the ARAB CONQUEST OF EGYPT Abusir Bana was an important administrative center. The Byzantine regime maintained troops in the town under the leadership of a man named Zacharias. Nonetheless, the Arabs were able to capture the city with little difficulty (1883, p. 411).
The Coptic community in Abusir Bana seems to have withstood the Arabic Conquest and to have remained intact. The HISTORY OF THE PATRIARCHS reports that in the time of Patriarch ALEXANDER II (705-730) Bishop John of Sa reunited the heretical Coptic congregation in Abusir Bana with the orthodox church. By 744 a bishop was again situated in Abusir Bana. We know that Bishop Jacob from the town was present at the synod that selected KHA’IL I (744-767) as the forty-sixth patriarch. Bishop Peter was in office in Abusir Bana sometime shortly before 750. A student of Bishop Zacharias of ATRIB, Peter was one of several church leaders who were imprisoned with Patriarch Kha’il. Sometime during the patriarchate of PHILOTHEUS (979-1003), Bishop Severus from Abusir Bana visited the patriarch in Alexandria. At the end of the eleventh century, a man named Mark was a bishop in Abusir Bana. In 1078 Mark was present at DAYR ANBA MAQAR in Wadi al-Natrun for the selection of CYRIL II (1078-1092) as patriarch.
- Amelineau, E. La Géographie de l’Egypte á l’époque copte, pp. 9-10. Paris, 1893.
- John of Nikiou. Chronique de Jean, évêque de Nikiou, ed. and trans. 1883. Zotenberg. Paris, 1883.
- Munier, H. Recueil des listes épiscopales de l’église copte. Cairo, 1943.
- Timm, S. Das christlich-koptische Ägypten in arabischer Zeit, pt. 1, pp. 459-63. Wiesbaden, 1984.