Dayr Al-Shahid Philuthawaus (Jirja)


On the map of the Survey of Egypt (1928), section, one notes a Naj‘ al-Dayr (Village of the Monastery) on the right bank of the Nile. In the village is a small monastery dedicated to the martyr Saint PHILOTHEUS. It is not known to which Saint Philotheus this monastery is consecrated, the martyr of Antioch or the more recent martyr of A.M. 1097/A.D. 1380, a native of Durunkah. Since this town is near ASYUT and hence somewhat from the present monastery, the martyr of Antioch seems the more likely dedicatee.

The first mention of the monastery appears to be that of S. Clarke (1912), in his appendix, which gives a list of churches and monasteries that is the official one of the Coptic patriarchate. He placed it to the east of al-Khiyam in the mudiriyyah (province) of Jirja, which corresponds to its actual situation, between al-Khiyam and al-Naghamish (p. 214, no. 41). ‘ABD AL-MASIH al-Masu‘di assigned it the same geographical position and indicated that Saint Philotheus is commemorated on 16 Tubah; it would then be the Philotheus of Antioch who is the titular saint (1924, p. 176).

This would be the only church dedicated to this martyr still in use in Egypt, although ABU SALIH THE ARMENIAN (1895, pp. 134-35) said that the church of the DAYR AL-NASTUR was dedicated to Saint Philotheus when the monastery became the property of the Copts. The veneration of this martyr was important in Egypt, as is shown by the number of the manuscripts of his Passion and his miracles (cf. Orlandi, 1978, pp. 117-20).

Unfortunately there has been no study of this dayr to determine exactly the date of the present buildings.

  • ‘Abd al-Masih Salib al-Masu‘di al-Baramusi. Kitab Tuhfat al-Sa’ilin fi Dhikr Adyirat Ruhban al-Misriyyin. Cairo, 1924.
  • Clarke, S. Antiquities in the Nile Valley. Oxford, 1912. Orlandi, T. “Il “dossier copto’ di san Filoteo d’Antiochia.” Analecta Bollandiana 96 (1978):117-20.
  • . Cairo, 1928.