DAYR AL-BISRAH (Busrah) (Asyut)

History

Dayr al-Bisrah is a small Coptic village on the right bank of the Nile, south of the extremity of the basin of Abnub, at the place where the mountains are very close to the Nile, opposite Shut b, the homeland of the father of Saint THEODORUS “the General” (stratelates) according to the Coptic texts.

The oldest documents mentioning this site are Coptic texts relating to Saint Theodorus. Whether they are in Sahidic or Bohairic, they mention “the port of     Paphor of Shot.” E. QUATREMÈRE wished to identify the latter with   Dayr Bisrah (1812, p. 33). ABU SALIH THE ARMENIAN (1895, p. 247), at the beginning of the thirteenth century, knew two places dedicated to Saint Theodorus.

One stood on the left bank at Shut b and contained the relics of the saint— Dayr Abu al-Sari. He seems here to have the HISTORY OF THE PATRIARCHS OF THE EGYPTIAN CHURCH (Vol. 2, pt. 3, pp. 227 [text], 360 [trans.]), which contains a list of the relics of saints in and mentions those of Theodorus “in the Monastery of Abu al-Sari at Shutb.” The second monastery noted by Abu Salih was Abu al-Sadir (or Theodorus), which he placed on the right bank.

Al- Maqrizi, before 1441, did indeed know the Monastery of Abu al-Sari and placed it on the right bank, a little to the north of al- Ma‘sarah, but he said that it was dedicated to Saint GEORGE. He placed the second monastery on the left bank below that of Saint SEVERUS (1853, Vol. 2, pp. 503, 506).

J. mentioned on the east bank “the church of Saint Theodore, martyr, son of John at Bossra” (1677, p. 361 ; 1678, p. 217). Quatremère knew only Vansleb’s Bosra and suggested identifying it with the Paphor of the Coptic texts (1812, p. 33). S. Clarke, in his list of the churches, cited at Bosra that of Theodore the General (1912, p. 210, no. 14).

An ancient has been published that derives from the cemetery adjacent to this church (Lefebvre, 1915, Vol. 15, pp. 125-26). Beaugé described the village and the church (1923, pp. 196-201), not without some fantasies, for there is no painting.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Beaugé, C. A travers la Haute-Egypte. Alençon, 1923.
  • Clarke, S. Antiquities in the Nile Valley. Oxford, 1912.
  • Lefebvre, G. “ Série d’inscriptions coptes et grecques.” Annales du Service des antiquités de l’Egypte 15 (1915):112-39.
  • Quatremère, E. Observations sur quelques points de la géographie de l’Egypte pour servir de supplement aux Mémoires historiques et géographiques sur l’Egypte et sur quelques contrées voisines. Paris, 1812.
  • Vansleb, J. M. Relation en forme de journal d’un fait en Egypte. Paris, 1677. Translated as The Present State of . London, 1678.

RENÉ-GEORGES COQUIN

MARTIN, S.J.

Architecture

The church at Dayr al-Bisrah is dedicated to Theodorus the General, who, according to local tradition, here suffered martyrdom and was buried. From the architectural point of view, it is a modern four-columned building with the usual three sanctuaries. However, it presumably stands on the site of an older church (Vansleb, 1677, p. 361). Early spolia have been built into many houses in Dayr al- Bisrah, and these may derive from this older building. The church itself contains some old icons. Also, a few inscriptions from this place are known (Lefebvre, 1915, pp. 125-26).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Lefebvre, G. “ Série d’inscriptions coptes et grecques.” Annales du Service des antiquités de l’Egypte 15 (1915):112-39.
  • Timm, S. Das christlich-koptische Ägypten in arabischer Zeit, Vol. 2, pp. 696-98. Wiesbaden, 1984.
  • Vansleb, J. M. Relation en forme de journal d’un fait en Egypte. Paris, 1677. Translated as The Present State of . London, 1678.

PETER GROSSMANN