ELIAS OF BISHWAW, SAINT

A monk who lived with exceptional austerity (feast day: 17 Kiyahk). He is known through the notice in the recension of the SYNAXARION from Upper Egypt. Two Arabic manuscripts also preserve the Life of this saint (Coptic Museum, Hist. 475, fols. 156-57 [Graf, Catalogue no. 718], and National Library, Paris, Arab. 153, fols. 112-14).

Elias was born at Iskhim in the district of Qus on the east bank of the Nile. While still young, he crossed the river and went to the mountain of Bishwaw. This site is located by the rolls of Timotheus, for the monastery of Saint VICTOR was afterward built on this spot (cf. Coquin, 1977, p. 145). He learned by heart thirty books of scripture.

His habit, in conformity with the custom of the monks, was to read every morning, but he did not stop before he had finished the books. Then he devoted himself to manual labor. Often he recited the one hundred and fifty psalms, with his hands raised to heaven. He lived in a tomb in the midst of bones, emitting such a foul odor that his disciple became sick and could not dwell with him.

  • Coquin, R. G. “A propos des rouleaux coptes-arabes de l’évêque
  • Timothée.” Bibliotheca Orientalis 34 (1977):142-47.
  • Crum, W. E. The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, Vol. 2. New York, 1926.
  • Graf, G. Catalogue de manuscrits arabes chrétiens conservés au Caire. Studi e Testi 63. Vatican City, 1934.
  • Troupeau, G. Catalogue des manuscrits arabes, Vol. 1. Paris, 1972.