LITHAZOMENON AND SAINT PETER’S BRIDGE
Two monasteries west of Alexandria, no doubt fairly near the city. The name Lithazomenon indicates a stony terrain. The first attestation is toward the middle of the fifth century (Orlandi, 1975, pp. 82-83), but it is not stated whether there was already a monastery there. At the end of the sixth century or beginning of the seventh, John Moschus, in company with Sophronius, visited the Thessalonian monk Abba Palladius. Moschus adds further on that he knew at Alexandria the pious Syrian reader Zoilus, a scribe by profession, who later on was buried at the Lithazomenon, in the monastery of the same Abba Palladius.
The monastery of Saint Peter’s Bridge was home to John the Soldier (Orlandi, 1975, p. 2925). The life of this holy man was curiously divided between asceticism and the inevitable basket- making, on the one hand, and the barracks, on the other.
Drescher (1949) was unable to determine which was the water- course crossed by the bridge nearby. As for the name, it seems that it relates to the patriarch PETER I (300-311), the “hieromartyr” executed under DIOCLETIAN. Several sources, in fact, testify that his martyrium was set up outside the walls, west of the city. This reliquary church, which survived until after the ARAB CONQUEST OF EGYPT, characteristically bore the name Western (al- Gharbiyyah; Basset, 1907, Vol. 11, pp. 758-59). There is little doubt, in our eyes, that Saint Peter’s Bridge drew its name from that of the nearby martyrium. That a monastery should have been established in the locality is only natural.
One of the manuscripts of the Life of THEODORA OF ALEXANDRIA (National Library, Paris, Arabe 1454; Wessely, 1889, p. 30) gives the Apostle Peter and not the archbishop of the same name as the person to whom the martyrium was dedicated. This is certainly an error, and besides, other manuscripts (Paris, Arabe 1468 and 1506) are content with “Saint Peter” (Wessely, pp. 29, 30).
- Calderim, A. Dizionario dei nomi geografici e topografici dell’Egitto greco-romano, 3 vols. in 8. Milan, 1966-1980.
- Drescher, J. Bulletin de la société archéologique d’Alexandrie 38 (1949):13-15.
- Orlandi, T., ed. Vite dei monaci Phif e Longino. Milan, 1975. Wessely, K. Die Vita s. Theodorae. Fünfzehnter Jahresbericht des k. und k. Staatsgymnasiums in Hernals. Vienna, 1889.