DAYR AL-‘AZAB (Fayyum)
The monastery of Dayr al-‘Azab does not seem to have been mentioned, at least under this name, by any author before the traveler J. M. Vansleb in 1672, who placed it halfway between Madinat al-Fayyum and the DAYR AL-NAQLUN (1677, p. 274; 1678, p. 166). In fact, it is about 4 miles (6 km) to the south of the capital of the Fayyum.
M. Ramzi (1953-1968, Vol. 1, p. 253; Vol. 2, pt. 3, p. 95) thought that this was the same monastery as the Dayr Dimushyah mentioned by al-Nabulsi (Salmon, 1901, p. 64) to the south of the small town called Dimushiyah. However, this town is situated about 3 miles to the west of that called al-‘Azab.
Descriptions were given by Johann Georg (1930, p. 19 and figs. 38-40, under the name al-Azrab) and O. Meinardus (1965, p. 332; 1977, p. 447). S. Clarke (1912, p. 205, no. 17) mentioned a church of the Virgin at al-‘Azab, in the district of Itsa. Al-Baramusi (1932, p. 157) indicated two churches in this monastery, one of the Virgin, the other of Saint Mercurius (ABU AL-SAYFAYN), and called the monastery Dayr al-‘Adhra’ (Monastery of the Virgin).
A new and very large church and other buildings have recently been constructed, because of pilgrimage to the tomb of the very popular Anba ABRAAM, monk of DAYR AL-MUHARRAQ and then bishop of the Fayyum, who died in 1914.
- ‘Abd al-Masih Salib al-Masu‘di al-Baramusi. Tuhfat al-Sa’ilin fi Dhikr Adyirat Ruhban al-Misriyyin. Cairo, 1932.
- Clarke, S. Christian Antiquities in the Nile Valley. Oxford, 1912. Johann Georg, Duke of Saxony. Neue Streifzüge durch die Kirchen und Klöster Ägyptens. Leipzig and Berlin, 1930.
- Meinardus, O. Christian Egypt, Ancient and Modern. Cairo, 1965; 2nd ed., 1977.
- Ramzi, M. Al-Qamus al-Jughrafi lil-Bilad al Misriyyah, 3 vols. Cairo, 1953-1968.
- Salmon, G. “Répertoire géographique de la province du Fayyoum d’après le Kitab Tarikh al-Fayyoum d’an-Naboulsi.” Bulletin de l’Institut français d’Archéologie orientale 1 (1901):29-77.
- Vansleb, J. M. Nouvelle Relation en forme de journal d’un voyage fait en Egypte en 1672 et 1673. Paris, 1677. Translated as The Present State of Egypt. London, 1678.
MAURICE MARTIN, S.J.
Dayr al-‘Azab lies in the Fayyum, close to the road from Madinat al-Fayyum to Bani Suef, and is still a very obscure complex to assign (Abbott, 1937, pp. 62f.) Today at that place there is an extensive modern cemetery with a large late-nineteenth-century church. The church to the northeast of this, hidden behind several neighboring buildings, seems still to include different components of an earlier basilican building.
The semicircular main haykal (sanctuary) with five very deep niches, and several wall sections of the two immediately adjoining secondary haykals, including the southern outer wall, might even go directly back to a previous three- nave building. The two secondary haykals would have to be considered as remodeled side rooms for the apse. Everything else was added in building activities of a much more recent date. The two cupolas over the central nave date from the Ottoman period. There is no khurus.
- Abbott, N. The Monasteries of the Fayyum. Chicago, 1937. Grossmann, P. Mittelalterliche Langhauskuppelkirchen und verwandte Typen in Oberägypten, pp. 36ff. Glückstadt, 1982.