Al-Burullus had a bishop as early as the first third of the fourth century. Bishop Nonnas was in office in 339; he was succeeded by Bishop Nemesion (Munier, 1943, p. 9). Bishop Athanasius of al- Burullus attended the first Council of EPHESUS in 431 (Munier, 1943, p. 15). Among the most notable of the town’s bishops was John, who lived at the end of the sixth and beginning of the seventh century (see Saint JOHN, Bishop of Parallos).
As a young man John used his inheritance to build a shelter for wanderers and the sick. He later became a monk in Scetis and then bishop of al-Burullus. As bishop he had to deal constantly with sects and heretics, among whom were the followers of a monk who claimed to be inspired by the archangel Michael and to have been visited by the prophet Habakkuk. According to the SYNAXARION, John had their books burned.
Patriarch ISAAC (686-689) came from al-Burullus, which is an indication that the area came through the ARAB CONQUEST OF EGYPT in the first half of the seventh century in relatively good shape. In the next century, during the time of Patriarch JOHN IV (775-779), there lived in al-Burullus a hermit named George who possessed the gift of prophecy.
When John’s son, the deacon Mark, refused to become bishop of Misr (Cairo) and fled from the chains with which John had bound him, the patriarch wrote a letter to George complaining of his son’s behavior. George told John he should not be angry with his son and he promised John that Mark (see MARK II) would become the next patriarch.
Al-Burullus remained a Coptic bishopric until at least the eleventh century, as evidenced by the attendance of Bishop Michael of al-Burullus at a synod in Cairo in 1086 (Munier, 1943, p. 28). Not surprisingly the town is mentioned in the medieval Coptic-Arabic scales and in the lists of Egyptian bishoprics (Munier, 1943, pp. 46, 53, 65).
Coptic tradition holds that the family of Jesus passed through al- Burullus on its FLIGHT INTO EGYPT.
- Amélineau, E. La Géographie de l’Egypte à l’époque copte, pp. 104-105. Paris, 1873.
- Munier, H. Recueil des listes épiscopales de l’église copte. Cairo, 1943.
- Timm, S. Das christlich-koptische Ägypten in arabischer Zeit, pt. 1, pp. 450-55. Wiesbaden, 1984.