The fifty-sixth patriarch of the See of Saint Mark (880-907). Kha’il succeeded SHENUTE I shortly after his death. Little is known about his life before or after he took the monastic vow except that he was a man of virtue and that he was penalized by one of his bishops, the occupant of the diocese of Sakha. He was a contemporary of Ahmad ibn Tulun (870-881) at the outset of his patriarchate.

Kha’il happened to be at the village of Danushar within the of Sakha, near the modern city of Disuq in the Gharbiyyah province (Amélineau, 1893, p. 143), for the consecration of a new church in the name of Ptolemeus the Martyr. Apparently the bishop was absent from the liturgy of consecration, and the patriarch proceeded with the performance of that function.

Then the bishop arrived and protested against action in his absence, and he took the sacramental utensils and threw them away, which was regarded as a mortal sin, for which the patriarch deposed him. Viciously, the bishop went to Ahmad to complain about Kha’il and to declare that the patriarch had immense wealth. Ibn Tulun, being in dire need of funds for his impending military expedition to Palestine, summoned Kha’il and demanded from him, which he did not have.

Consequently, the patriarch was arrested and incarcerated. On hearing this, two Coptic of Ibn Tulun’s administration, Bisus and Abraam, went to the vizier, Ahmad ibn al-Maridani, and pleaded with him to intercede with the sultan on behalf of patriarchal freedom. freed the patriarch on the stipulation that he would pay 10,000 dinars in a month and another 10,000 within four months. The first amount was levied from ten bishops, but the second sum was not paid because Ibn Tulun died in the field during the interval and was succeeded by his son Khumarawayh (881-896), who was more lenient toward his subjects and chose to forget about the second installment.

Little beyond this minor episode is mentioned in the HISTORY OF THE PATRIARCHS, save some miraculous and legendary tales. According to the same source, however, simony (CHEIROTONIA) had to be revived to help in payment of state financial imposts. The patriarch died on 21 Amshir in the reign of al-Muktafi (904-908).


  • Amélineau, E. Géographie de l’Egypte a l’époque copte. Paris, 1893. Lane-Poole, S. History of Egypt in the Middle Ages. London, 1901.
  •  . . Paris, 1925.