A village 10.5 miles (17 km) north of Mahallah al-Kubra in the Gharbiyyah province and 13 miles (21 km) west of Mansurah in the Province of Daqahliyyah that served as cell or residence of the Coptic patriarchs for almost 100 years, from 975 to about 1061. The name of this village is mentioned sixteen times in the HISTORY OF THE PATRIARCHS. In the days of al-‘Aziz (975-996), Macarius, the secretary of the synod, advised PHILOTHEUS, the sixty-third patriarch (979-1003), to move the patriarchal residence from Alexandria to Damru, where Menas, the bishop of Tanah and the brother of Macarius, lived. Bishop Menas had what was called a good dwelling-place at Damru, which made it attractive for the patriarch to accept the suggestion of the synod’s secretary. The patriarchal quarters were quite extensive, for the patriarch used to receive and entertain guests, whose usual custom it was to sit and drink with him.
ZACHARIAS, the sixty-fourth patriarch (1004-1032), also took up his residence at Damru, where he frequently entertained bishops, priests, monks, and laymen. He built the “Great Church,” that is, the patriarchal cathedral. Damru rose rapidly in importance and seems to have been inhabited entirely by Christians. SHENUTE II, the sixty-fifth patriarch (1032-1046), also resided at Damru and completed the construction of the “Great Church,” where he was buried. The fourth and last patriarch to reside at Damru was CHRISTODOULUS, the sixty-sixth patriarch (1047-1077). During his patriarchate, Damru increased even more in importance and size, so that it was known as the “Second Constantinople” with seventeen churches, most of which were restored.
In the latter part of the reign of Christodoulus, some 40,000 Berber horsemen and their attendants invaded the Nile Delta and went to Damru and took the patriarch from his residence and plundered all that was in it. The patriarch then took temporary refuge in Alexandria and subsequently transferred the patriarchal residence to Cairo. Most if not all of the churches and the patriarchal residence were destroyed. Those buildings that survived the devastations of the Berbers were probably destroyed by the Ghuzz, who, during the patriarchate of CYRIL II (1078-1092) took possession of the Province of Gharbiyyah.
The present Damru comprises the three villages of Kafr Damru, Shubra Nabat or Shubra Damru, and Damru Khammarah. These three villages, of which Kafr Damru is the southernmost, appear as a single unit without visible boundaries. Within these three villages, there are no archaeological or architectural traces of the former churches. Just north of the limit of Damru al-Khammarah there is the Muslim cemetery on a slight elevation. Many of the tombs are constructed with burned bricks, and the villagers maintain that the bricks belonged to the ancient baths that were the property of a king. This may have been the bathing place that is referred to in the History of the Patriarchs.
- Amélineau, E. La Géographie de l’Egypte à l’époque copte, p. 302. Paris, 1886.
- Meinardus, O. “Damrua (Gharbiyah): Past and Present.” Bulletin de la Société de géographie d’Egypte 38 (1965):195-99.
- Munier, H. Recueil des listes épiscopales de l’église copte, p. 26. Cairo, 1943.