ISIDHURUS (1867-1942)

Bishop and abbot who wrote a history of the Coptic church. Isidhurus was born at Homs, Syria, into a pious Christian family named Na‘um. In 1880 he emigrated to Alexandria at the age of thirteen in the company of a relative, Hegumenos Isaiah, who was the resident priest in charge of the Coptic community at Alexandria.

After completing his education in the newly established Coptic School in Cairo, Isidhurus was selected to teach Arabic, Coptic, and the rudiments of French in Cairo. At the same time, he continued the study of advanced French with a monk from the Collège des Frères. In 1885 he took monastic from Pope CYRIL V, who sent him to his own former monastery, DAYR AL-BARAMUS, in Wadi al- Natrun. There he became the pupil of the eminent literary monk ‘ABD AL-MASIH SALIB AL-MASU‘DI.

Returning to Cairo in 1887, Isidhurus was made deacon at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in al-Azbakiyyah, then a priest at Mar Mina’s church at Fumm al-Khalij. Meanwhile, he became a close disciple to both Pope Cyril V and Anba Macarius, bishop of Asyut. He was put in charge of the religious properties of DAYR and DAYR AL-MUHARRAQ, but decided to leave these worldly obligations to devote himself to spiritual research and writing. Then he was nominated for a bishopric but escaped consecration.

In the end, he was made abbot of DAYR AL-SURYAN with the rank of bishop while heading the monastic school at Darb al-Ibrahimi. As abbot, he decided to elevate a number of monks to the rank of archpriest without first consulting Cyril V. This placed him in an awkward position with the patriarch, who removed him from office. When the Roman Catholic church offered to adopt him, he refused. Ultimately Wadi‘ Sa‘id (later Dawud al-Maqari) mediated for him with Pope JOHN XIX, who granted him pardon on 4 October 1941. He died on 19 January 1942.

Isidhurus used all his time to write. He left behind him a massive consisting of two periodicals, which he for more than forty years, three historical tales, a number of exegetic works, and a few moralistic tracts. His major work remains a detailed history of the in two volumes entitled Al-Kharridah al- fi Tarikh al-Kanisah (Precious Gems in the History of the Church).