Panine And Paneu


A legendary saints and objects of a ninth-century cult. The surviving portions of this attractive legend were edited from the remains of two codices of the White Monastery (DAYR ANBA SHINUDAH) by G. Zoega (1810), C. Wessely (1917), W. Till (1935), and T. Orlandi (1978). To his edition, Till added a German translation, in which he also translates the edited by Wessely. Orlandi provides a complete edition of the items already published and those initially edited by him with an Italian translation. To an extent, the lacunae can be filled in from the Arabic Synaxarium Alexandrinum (Forget, 1953, pp. 183-86; 1954, pp. 316-19).

According to Orlandi, we can divide the legend into three parts.

The first deals with the school days of the two saints and contains an episode that may well have been developed from the name Panine (W. E. Crum, 1939, p. 81). Alexander, the elder of Symphronius at school and a relation of the HEGUMENOS Arianus, smashes the young Symphronius thumbs in annoyance at the latter’s progress in writing. After they are miraculously healed, the teacher asks, “Are you not the boy with the broken thumbs?” Thereafter Symphronius is called Panine (the person with the “broken” thumbs). The second part deals with the monastic life of the two friends in the valley of al-Qalamun (southeast of the Fayyum) and then on Mount Ebot near Psoi (AL-MINSHAH).

This brings them into contact with the famous martyr bishop, OF PSOI, who consecrates a newly constructed church. From the we learn that at the same time he ordains Panine as a priest and Paneu as a deacon. The bishop predicts martyrdom for both the saints. From this section, it is clear that the legend of the martyrdom of Arianus was already known to the author (see the articles APOLLONIUS AND PHILEMON and ARIANUS). The third part contains the martyrdom described in simple terms in which we do not find the scenes of restoration that are so popular elsewhere.

The founding of the cult is, however, important for this legend. According to the an angel appears to both the saints before their death and promises a blessing to those who venerate them. They are beheaded at a lake near Idfu. After the soldiers wash their swords in the lake, its water gains salutary powers. When the persecution has ended, a church is built in the neighborhood of the lake above their graves, where according to the Synaxarion, miracles and healings continue to occur. The many placenames suggest that the legend was written by someone with a good knowledge of the geography of Upper Egypt.

The writer is familiar with ANTINOOPOLIS and its traditions (the school days of both martyrs are there; there are also connections to Alexander, a relative of Arianus, and to the martyrdom of Arianus). As the story of the martyrdom of Arianus is presupposed, the legend of Panine and Paneu might well belong to the final layer of Coptic literature on martyrs. The terminus ante quem is the ninth century, from which both manuscripts probably come. The association of monasticism, ecclesiastical office, and martyrdom is intended to emphasize the importance of the saints as the object of a cult (on the monastic martyrs, cf. T. Baumeister, 1979, pp. 218-20).


  • Baumeister, T. Martyr invictus, pp. 67, 92, 143. Münster, 1972.
  • ____. “Heinrich Bröcker.” Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum (1979):218-20.
  • Crum, W. E. A Coptic Dictionary. Oxford, 1939.
  • Delehaye, H. “Les martyrs d’Egypte.” Analecta Bollandiana 40 (1922):5-154; 299-364.
  • Orlandi, T. “Il dossier copto del martire Psote.” Testi e documenti per lo studio dell’antichita 61 (1978):93-115.
  • Sauget, J. M. “Panine e Panew.” Bibliotheca Sanctorum 10 (1968):101-104.
  • Till, W. “Koptische Heiligen- und Märtyrerlegenden I.” Orientalia Christiana Analecta 102 (1935):35-71.
  • Wessely, C. “ und koptische Texte theologischen Inhalts V.” Studien zur Palaeographie und Papyruskunde 28 (1917):34-39, no. 271.
  • Zoega, G. Catalogus codicum Copticorum manu scriptorum qui in Museo Borgiano Velitris adservantur, pp. 548-51, nos. CCXXIV-CCXXV. Rome, 1810. Reprinted, Leipzig 1903.