DAYR AL-MAYMAH (Gharbiyyah)
This monastery is part of a group of four that, according to the indications of al-MAQRIZI, may be situated “in the region of the salt-marshes near Lake al-Burullus” (1845, pp. 45 [text], 109 [trans.]; 1853, Vol. 2, p. 508, correcting al- Maymanah to al-Maymah) in the neighborhood of Bilqas, in northeast Gharbiyyah. Al-Maqrizi (d. 1441) indicated that the Dayr al-Maymah was near the DAYR AL-‘ASKAR, and he added that formerly there was not in the delta a monastery inhabited by a greater number of monks. He also said that its prosperity had vanished, the monastery had been destroyed, the army (reading al- jaysh, not al-habash or Ethiopian) camped there, and the area had been built up.
It is noteworthy that ABU AL-MAKARIM, who was writing at the beginning of the thirteenth century, did not speak of Dayr al- Maymah, no doubt because the ruin of which al-Maqrizi spoke was already in that state. Al-Maqrizi was doubtless quoting an older author, as was his custom.
M. Ramzi (1953-1968, Vol. 2, p. 2, p. 27) showed that in several medieval documents the areas called al-Maymah and al-‘Askar were situated near one another and then were gradually joined to form the town of Bilqas, in the present markaz (district) of Bilqas. Until A.H. 1244/A.D. 1809, al-Maymah was associated with al-‘Askar in the area of Danjaway, which confirms the information of al-Maqrizi, who placed the two similarly named monasteries near one another. It is very probable that both these monasteries had received the names of the neighboring villages.
In the life of Sitt Dimyanah (or Jimyanah, according to the writing in all the manuscripts; Sidawi, 1917, p. 83), JOHN, bishop of Parallos (al-Burullus), told of having heard the tradition concerning this saint from a monk of Dayr al-Maymah (which, according to al-Maqrizi, had the largest community). According to this special tradition, the saint, when only one year old, had been offered by her father to the church of Dayr al-Maymah (see DAYR SITT DIMYANAH). Unfortunately, there is no information to fix the period when John lived. Some manuscripts give him the surname Ni‘matallah (Graf, 1944-1953, Vol. 1, pp. 468, 532).
- Ramzi, M. Al-Qamus al-Jughrafi lil-Bilad al Misriyyah, 3 vols. Cairo, 1953-1968.
- Sidawi, E. “Sitt Dimiana, sa légende, son mouled.” Bulletin de la Société sultanieh de géographie n.s. 8 (1917):79-99.