Dayr Al-Salib



This small monastery is situated on the edge of the desert in the village called Hajar Danfiq on the left bank of the Nile. The site is ancient, for it is named in the Arabic Life of Pisentius (O’Leary, PO22) and in that of Saint Andrew, superior of Dayr al-Salib (Winlock and Crum, 1926, Vol 1, pp. 114-15).

It was not until 1668 that it was cited by European travelers, the Capuchin fathers Protais and Francois (Sauneron, 1974, p.93). They were to be by J. VANSLEB (1677, P. 411; 1678, P. 246). At the beginning of the eighteen century C. SICARD (1982, Vol. 2, p. 227) knew this monastery. S. CLARKE (1912, pp. 126-30) described its church and drew up a plan of it. U. Monneret de Villard (1926, Vol. 2, p. 62, fig. 97) corrected this plan.

Unfortunately this ancient building fell into ruin and was demolished in 1917 (Clarke, 1919, p. 527). It was to be replaced by a modern structure. The present state of the site was described by O. Meinardus (1965, pp. 311-12; 1977, p. 425).

This monastery is also sometimes called that of Shenute (‘Abd al- Salib, 1924, p. 176). It is perhaps the one noticed by ABU SALIH THE ARMENIAN (1895, p. 280) at the beginning of the thirteenth century. It rather seems that it took the name of a neighboring monastery, since fallen to ruin (Winlock and Crum, 1926, Vol. 1, p. 112, n. 12).


  • ‘Abd al- Salib al-Masu‘di al-Baramusi. Kitab Tuhfat al Sa’ilin fi Dhikr Adyirat Ruhban al-Misriyyin. Cairo, 1924.
  • Clarke, S. Christian in the . Oxford, 1912.
  • Comité de conservation de l’art arabe. Proces-Verbaux des séances 32. Cairo, 1919.
  • Meinardus, O. Christian Egypt, Ancient and Modern. Cairo, 1965; 2nd ed., 1977.
  • Monneret de Villard, U. près de Sohag, Vol. 2. Milan, 1926.
  • O’Leary, De L., ed. The Arabic Life of St. . PO 22, pt. 3. Paris, 1930.
  • Sauneron, S. Villes et légendes d’Egypte. Cairo, 1974.
  • Sicard, C. Oeuvres, Vol. 2, ed. M. Martin. Bibliothèque d’étude 84. Cairo, 1982.
  • Vansleb, J. M. 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.
  • Winlock, H. E., and W. E. Crum. The Monastery of Epiphanius at , Vol. 1. New York, 1926.




Dayr al-Salib (Monastery of the Holy Cross) is an unimportant and today uninhabited monastery. Down to the second decade of the twentieth century it contained an old church arranged as a three-aisle basilica (Clarke, 1912, pp. 126ff.). Still standing were the sanctuary, the remains of the khurus (room between naos and sanctuary), several pillars (taken from pharaonic buildings), and the outer walls on the long sides. In the twelfth or thirteenth century—probably after the loss of the original wooden roof—it was converted to a vaulted structure. Further, in the course of several building operations the separation between the khurus and the naos became more and more strongly marked. The church is an example of the way in which, with the increased frequency of masses in the Mamluk period, the original side rooms of the apse were converted into additional altar areas by pulling down the former entrance walls. The remaining churches of the monastery are modern, as is the not very high surrounding wall.


  • Clarke, S. Christian in the , pp. 126-30. Oxford, 1912.
  • Grossmann, P. Mittelalterliche Langhauskuppelkirchen und verwandte Typen in Oberägypten, pp. 42-45. Glückstadt, 1982.
  • Monneret de Villard, U. près de Sohâg, Vol. 1, p. 62. Milan, 1925.
  •  . Deyr el-Muharaqah, p. 13. Milan, 1928.