DAYR ABU ISHAQ
A monastery, the church of which has been rebuilt, situated at the edge of the desert on the right bank between two villages called ‘Arab Mitir and ‘Arab al-‘Awamir in the district of Abnub. It is surrounded by a Christian cemetery.
One cannot with complete certainty identify it with the monastery of Isaac of which a Coptic manuscript speaks (Kuhn, 1978, p. 1). A certain number of parchment leaves that come from there prove that the monastery was in use down to the eighteenth century (Burmester, 1975, Vol. 1, pp. 290, 294, 296-301).
The Christian cemetery proves that this place played an important role in the Byzantine period (Kamal, 1903, p. 83). This is explained by its proximity to al-Khusus, which was an important center of the Coptic community in the Middle Ages. S. Clarke names the church in his list of churches and attaches it to al- Hamman (1912, p. 210, no. 20). O. Meinardus (1965, pp. 280-81; 1977, pp. 389-90) describes its present state. He also indicates that a mawlid (pilgrimage) takes place there in the month of May.
It is not known which Isaac is intended. Probably it was a local saint whose Life has not come down rather than Saint Isaac of Difre, the martyr commemorated on 6 Bashans.
- Burmester, O. Koptische Handschriften, Vol. 1, Die Handschriftenfragmente der Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg, Pt. 1. Wiesbaden, 1975.
- Clarke, S. Christian Antiquities in the Nile Valley. London, 1912. Kamal, A. “Rapport sur la nécropole d’Arab el-Borg.” Annales du Service des antiquités de l’Egypte 3 (1903):80-84.
- Kuhn, K. H. A Panegyric on Apollo, Archimandrite, of the Monastery of Isaac by Stephen, Bishop of Heracleopolis Magna. CSCO 394. Louvain, 1978.
- Meinardus, O. F. A. Christian Egypt, Ancient and Modern. Cairo, 1965; 2nd ed., 1977.
MAURICE MARTIN, S.J