An extensive life of this saint and an account of several of his miracles can be found in two manuscripts of Coptic origin.
The Life of Abu Fis (National Library, Paris, Arabe 4775, fols. 179v-96v, ninth century) was copied by the Muslim Muhammad ‘Izzat, as commissioned by E. Amélineau. Since this text is unique and still unknown, a translation of the incipit follows: “Listen and pay heed, o people who love Christ, so that I may recount to you the life of this man. This saint Aba Fis was, ever since his childhood, when he was in the house of his parents. . . .”
Another manuscript of the Life of Abu Fis is mentioned in passing by J. Muyser (Church of the Virgin of Harit Zuwaylah, Cairo, Liturgy 23, fols. 1ff.). In it, allusion is made to the visit paid by the young Fis to Abu Hor the Fuller (al-Qassar) of Abrahat, who was living in the Mountain of the Pillar (Jabal al-‘Amud) near Qaw (now ‘Izbat al-Aqbat) with the intention of taking the monastic habit. According to this description, he was living to the west of the Nile and to the south of Qaw, probably near today’s Tima.
As for miracles, these are, as usual, linked to the consecration of the church dedicated to the saint. This took place on 11 Ba’unah. Some of these are recounted in a mutilated manuscript dated 1360- 1363, copied by Jirjis Abu al-Barakat ibn Rizqallah, the great- grandson of the Coptic encyclopedist Abu al-Barakat ibn Kabar (d. 1324) (Coptic Museum, Cairo, History 469, fols. 276v-80v). Since this text is unique and unknown, the incipit (after the conventional preface) may be translated as: “O beloved brethren, we shall mention a few of the miracles of the great and pious saint, the venerated Father Abu Fis. . . .”
An isolated folio (perhaps fifteenth century) containing a fragment on Abu Fis kept in the University Library of Louvain (fonds Lefort arabe A 14) was burned in the fire that devastated the library during World War I.
- Graf, G. Catalogue de manuscripts arabes chrétiens conservés au Caire, pp. 264-67, no. 712. Vatican City, 1934.
- Muyser, J. “Ermite pérégrinant et pèlerin infatigable. Fragment arabe de la vie inédite d’Anba Harmin, racontée par son compagnon de voyage Apa Hor de Preht.” Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie copte 9 (1943):160-236.
- Troupeau, G. Catalogue des manuscrits arabes, Vol. 2, pp. 25-26 no. 4775. Paris, 1974.
KHALIL SAMIR, S. J