Azari

AZARI

A medieval town in the province of Gharbiyyah. Administrative documents of the time situate it in an area called at that time Jazirat Bani Nasr, stretching eastward from the Rosetta branch of the Nile, slightly southwest of Minuf, and from Niqiyus in the south as far as Qulayb Ibyar in the north. It was called “the island of the Bani Nasr” because of a canal, al-Bajuriyyah, which bounded its territory to the east and made it, as it were, an island (Guest, 1912, p. 959 and map). M. Ramzi (1953-1963, Vol. 1, p. 19) thinks that this small town has disappeared but that its site is today occupied by the village called Kafr al-Bajah in the markaz (district) of Kafr al-Zayyat. Azari was not, therefore, very far from Ibyar.

The life of the patriarch CHRISTODOULOS states that toward the end of his life he wrote to the new patriarch of Antioch, John XI (1075-c. 1095). John replied through the intermediary of a native of Jerusalem, a Syrian called Samuel, who became a recluse in a hermitage at Azari, although some manuscripts have Arari (Sawirus ibn al-Muqaffa‘, Vol. 2, pt. 3, pp. 206 [text], 319 [trans.]). Later, some bishops proposed this same recluse Samuel, who was living in the hermitage of Azari, as successor to CYRIL II in 1093, but he was set aside because of his unorthodox opinions (ibid., pp. 234 [text], 372 [trans.]).

It does seem that this Samuel may be the Samuel bar who was copyist of five Syriac manuscripts, written between 1081 and 1102, that came from the DAYR AL-SURYAN and are today preserved in the Museum in London (Wright, 1870-1872, Vol. 1, pp. 52, 160-61, 181; Vol. 2, pp. 606, 913-14, 1021). In the colophons he presents himself as a native of the eastern town of Ma‘dan and describes himself sometimes as a and Stylite and sometimes as a priest and recluse “in the island which is in the region of and Misr” and once “in the island of Niqiyus.” Evelyn-White had understood begazarta to be a place near Alexandria, but it is much more likely that it must be understood as bi-jazirat (the island—i.e., of Bani Nasr), where indeed Niqiyus was situated.

Slightly later, the patriarch II resided in this place “Azari, in the Jazirat Ban Nasr” (Sawirus ibn al-Muqaffa‘, Vol. 3, pt. 1, pp. 7 [text], 12 [trans.]). With the evidence of this last witness, it is certainly necessary to correct the strange opinion of Evelyn- White: “The Cell at Adari’ [Azari] . . . is the Syrian Monastery itself” (1932, p. 363).

After the just-cited mention of Azari in the History of the Patriarchs, no other is to be read, and it is noticeable that the twelfth-century chronicler makes no allusion to it.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Evelyn-White, H. G. The History of the Monasteries of Nitria and Scetis. New York, 1932.
  • Guest, R. “The Delta in the Middle Ages.” of the Royal and Asiatic Society, n.s. 42 (1912):941-80.
  • Meinardus, O. F. A. Christian Egypt, Ancient and Modern, 2nd ed., pp. 235-37. Cairo, 1977. (Several details are incorrect.)
  • Ramz, M. Al-Qamus al-Jughrafi lil-Bilad al-Misriyyah, 2 vols. in 5 pts. Cairo, 1953-1963.
  • Wright, W. of the Syriac Manuscripts in the Museum. London, 1870-1872.

RENÉ-GEORGES COQUIN

MAURICE MARTIN, S.J.