ELIAS OF SAMHUD, SAINT
a sixth-century (?) monk whose birth was foretold by an angel (feastday: 13 Kiyahk). His Christian parents, who lived in the Fayyum, held a monthly agape (meal) for the poor as well as widows and orphans, and were reportedly visited by the Old Testament prophets Elijah (Elias) and Elisha. Despite their prayers, his parents remained a long time without children. At last, God sent the archangel MICHAEL to them, in the semblance of a monk, to announce to them the birth of a son, whom they were to call Elias and in whom the spirit of the prophet Elias would dwell. Shortly afterward his mother conceived, and after nine months gave birth to a boy. When he grew up, the child was the target of jealousy from his fellow pupils because of his success. Some of his fellows stole a gold necklet from one of the children and hid it under Elias’ bed. When accused, he protested his innocence in vain. After class, one of the pupils was bitten by a serpent and died, but Elias restored him to life, which caused his holiness to shine forth in the eyes of his teacher and the other pupils.
Later he desired to become a monk, and joined a hermit who enjoined him to go into the monastery of Saint PACHOMIUS. He went to Pbow, where he received the monastic habit. After dissensions arose there he left for Djeme (west bank at Luxor), where he stayed for two years, then lived at Banhadab (west bank opposite Qift) for some time. Finally, he went to Hiw (Diospolis Parva), where an angel commanded him to go to Farshut, north of Hiw.
The text of the Sahidic recension of the SYNAXARION, which is the sole source, has unfortunately lost its ending, and consequently the rest of his life remains unknown; but since the beginning of the notice indicates that he died “in the mountain of Samhud,” it is probable that he settled in that region. J. Doresse, like J. Muyser (1943, p. 226, n. 3), did not see that the continuation of the text after the lacuna is part of the life of the Syrian saints Banham and Sara, and that the “monastery of the vault” mentioned there is not in Egypt but in Iraq, in the neighborhood of Mosul (Coquin, 1978, p. 360).
- Coquin, R.-G. “Le synaxaire des Coptes.” Analecta Bollandiana 96 (1978):351-65.
- Doresse, J. “Elie de Samhud.” Dictionnaire d’histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, Vol. 15, cols. 196-97.
- Muyser, J. “Ermite Pérégrinant et Pèlerin infatigable.” Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie copte 9 (1943):159-236.