Dayr Abu Bifam (Samalut)

DAYR ABU BIFAM (Samalut)

ABU SALIH THE ARMENIAN (fol. 88a; 1895, pp. 111-12 [text], 247-48 [trans.]) mentions “a monastery of SAMALUT in [the district of] al- and a in the name of the martyr Abu Bifam.” (It is necessary to correct the reading of B. T. A. Evetts, who writes the name consistently as Abu Bagham; Bifam is a variant of PHOIBAMMON.)

The author describes this monastery as being surrounded by a wall and possessing a mill, an oven, an oil press, a large and lofty keep, and a garden with date and other trees. The caliphs had endowed it with twenty feddans (acres) of black earth. One of the or Kurds took possession of it in A.H. 569/A.D. 1173-1174, turned the into a mosque, took over the garden and the feddans, and lived in the keep, but he died within the year, which prevented him from realizing the whole of his design.

Abu Salih is the only one known to have mentioned a Dayr Abu Bifam at Samalut. AL-MAQRIZI (1853) mentions two monasteries dedicated to Abu Bifam (Phoibammon), one near ASYUT, in the region of DURUNKAH (or Udrunkah), on the west bank, and the other more to the south, before Tima, or about 12 miles (40 km) from the first. The recognizes two martyrs by the name of Phoibammon: the one celebrated on 27 Tubah was martyred at Tima, and the one celebrated on 1 ’unah died and was buried near Asyut.

No monastery of this name is now known in the region of Samalut.

RENÉ-GEORGES COQUIN