MONASTERIES OF THE EASTERN DESERT OF THE DELTA AND SINAI.
A number of places are mentioned in the ancient sources as the abodes of monks in this vast region.
Pelusium is today called Tall al-Farama, and is 2 miles (3 km) from the Mediterranean coast and 14 miles (23 km) east of the al-Tinah station on the railway line that links Port Said and al-Isma‘iliyyah. It is cited several times as the center of an area in which anchorites lived.
ABU SALIH THE ARMENIAN writes that in his time (thirteenth century) there were numerous churches and monasteries in ruins in this place. He attributes its destruction to the Persians (619-629) and the Arabs.
Kasios or Mount Casios, today Katib al-Qals, was about 50 miles (75 km) east of Port Said, on the north edge of Lake Bardawil. It was the site of a monastery of Saint Romanos, where JACOB BARADAEUS, the restorer of the Monophysite hierarchy, died on 30 July 578.
Ostracine was at the eastern extremity of Lake Bardawil. Some identify it with the village called KHIRBAT AL-FILUSIYYAH, others with the hamlet of Zananiq; J. Clédat excavated a fortress-monastery there. More recently another monastery has been discovered but not excavated (Figuéras, 1982).
Rhinokorua is generally identified with the present al-‘Arish: this was the first town in Egypt when one came from Syria.
The Greek historian Sozomen (Historia ecclesiastica 6.31) names three anchorites at this place. Two brothers, Melas and Solon became bishops of the town, one after the other; the first was exiled by the Arian emperor Valens (364-378) and died in 375. The third ascetic, Dionysius, built for himself a hermitage to the north of the town. Sozomen specifies that all three were autochthonous, which no doubt means that they originated from the bedouin tribes of the peninsula.
[See also: Clysma; Pharan; Raithou.]
- Amélineau, E. La Géographie de l’Egypte a l’époque copte. Paris, 1893.
- Ball, J. Egypt in the Classical Geographers. Cairo, 1942.
- Clédat, J. “Fouilles à Khirbet al-Flousiyeh.” Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Egypte 16 (1916):6-32.
- Figuéras, P. “Le Christianisme au Nord-Sinai.” Le Monde de la Bible 24 (May-July 1982).
- Kugener, M. A. “Récit de Mar Cyriaque.” Revue de l’Orient chrétien 7 (1902):197-217.
- Maspero, J., and G. Wiet. Matériaux pour servir à la géographie de l’Egypte. Mémoires de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale, Vol. 36. Cairo, 1919.
MAURICE MARTIN, S.J.