DAYR YUHANNIS AL-QASIR
A monastery in Wadi al-Natrun founded in the fourth century (c. A.D. 380) by Abba Yuhannis according to the instructions of his father, Amoi. Tradition relates that the latter planted his staff in the sand and asked his son to water it regularly, although the closest well was 12 miles (19 km) away. It is said that the staff, known in the tenth century as the “tree of obedience,” bloomed for more than six centuries.
This monastery is situated southeast of DAYR AL-SURYAN and DAYR ANBA BISHOI and had dependent cells that formed units surrounded by a high wall. These swelling houses, as they were called, were in no way fortified at the beginning of their construction. Fortifications that included the nucleus or the central court and the surrounding buildings were introduced in the later decades of the ninth century.
In spite of these interior and exterior fortifications, this monastery, like many others in the Nitrian Valley, was sacked and rebuilt many times. It was crippled financially and was totally abandoned after the crushing blow of the Berber incursion in the middle of the fourteenth century. At present only small parts of the southern and western sides are somewhat better preserved than the enclosure walls, which had fallen into ruin. The materials of the collapsed walls and ruined enclosures seem to have been used by the monks of the adjacent Dayr al-Suryan and Dayr Anba Bishoi for their cells and other monastic buildings.
- Kersting, A. E. “The Coptic Monasteries of Wadi Natrun.” The Bulletin (July 1949):9-15.
- Walters, C. C. Monastic Archaeology in Egypt. Warminster, England, 1974.
FAYEK MAHER ISHAQ