SAINT JIRJIS AL-MUZAHIM, or Geroge
A”new martyr” of the eighth century (feast day: 19 Ba’unah). He was the son of a Muslim by the name of Jum‘ah al-‘Atwi, who had married a Christian from Damirah, a village in the Qalyuliyyah province. Muzahim used to go to church with his mother and very much wanted to partake of the Holy Eucharist. But his mother told him that this was not permitted except for those who were baptized. She gave him a morsel of the bread, and he felt it like honey in his mouth. Henceforth, he became confirmed in his desire to become a Christian. As he grew older, he married a Christian, to whom he revealed his intention to be baptized.
But the local priests were apprehensive about baptizing him for fear of mob retaliation. So he went to Damietta, where he had his wish fulfilled, and he changed his name to Jirjis. On hearing this, the Muslims seized him and beat him, but he managed to escape and fled to Saft Abu Turab, where he stayed for three years. Then he moved to Qutur, where he served in the church of Saint George. Afterward, he decided to return to his native village of Damirah, where the Muslim population still remembered him, seized him, and delivered him to the governor to chastize him as an apostate from Islam.
But the governor did not take immediate action against him, owing to the intercession of his wife, who was a Christian. He placed Jirjis in prison, but the infuriated mob broke into the prison and lynched Jirjis. On the following morning, Christians came to bury him, but found him still alive. On discovering this, the Muslims came back and took their prey to court with menaces for further violence, but their victim remained firm in his conviction. They dragged him, and after torturing him by tying him to a mast, returned him to prison, where the vision of an angel strengthened him and informed him that the end of his suffering was approaching.
The Muslims went to the governor and demanded his execution in conformity with Islamic jurisprudence. Instead, the governor chose to hand him over to the crowd, who took him and beheaded him before the church of Saint Michael in Damirah. The date of his execution was 19 Ba’unah in the year A.M. 675/A.D. 959.
Afterward, the mob wanted to burn his body, which remained unscathed. So they bundled him in a sack and threw him in the river. The body was finally cast on the shore of an island and recovered by the martyr’s mother. The Christians interred him with all religious honors and built a church over his tomb at the village of Tanabura, a few miles west of Damirah.
- Nau, F. N. Les Ménologies des évangéliaires coptes-arabes. PO 10, 2, pp. 204, 205, 215, 234, 273, 281. Paris, 1915.
- O’Leary, DeL. The Saints of Egypt in the Coptic Calendar. London, 1937.
EMILE MAHER ISHAQ