BENJAMIN I

Scetis

SCETIS A name that historically designated the area of monastic settlement extending about 19 miles (30 km) through the shallow valley known in the medieval period as Wad Habb, now called Wad al-Natrun, which runs southeast to northwest through the Western or Libyan Desert, about 40 miles (65 km) southwest of the Nile Delta. In …

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Covenant Of ‘Umar

COVENANT OF ‘UMAR Ascribed to the second Orthodox caliph, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (634-644), and regarded as a document of primary importance in regulating the relations between the Muslim conquerors of the Middle East and their Dhimmi subjects, that is, the Jews and the Christians, including the Coptic nation in Egypt. The situation of the Copts …

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Dayr Anba Maqar

DAYR ANBA MAQAR Rising on the desert horizon like a great fortress, the Monastery of Saint MACARIUS was originally the most remote and least accessible of the monasteries of Wadi al- Natrun. It came into being around 360 when Saint Macarius the Egyptian moved southward from the valley to escape the overcrowding of hermits. Here, …

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Monastery Of St. Macarius

MONASTERY OF ST. MACARIUS It is the southernmost monastery in Wadi al-Natrun. The monastery bears the name of its patron St. Macarius, who died in about 390. This monastery became an official occasional residence for the Coptic patriarchs toward the middle of the sixth century when the Byzantine authorities did not allow them to reside …

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Arab Conquest Of Egypt

ARAB CONQUEST OF EGYPT The conquest, under ‘Amr ibn al-‘As, was the last of the rapid series of victories in the years A.H. 13-19/A.D. 635-640 that had led the Arabs to overthrow the weakened Byzantine provinces of the Near East. The conquest of Egypt marked the virtual end of a rapid period of expansion, since …

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Kellia

KELLIA History of the Site The Kellia is one of the most important and most celebrated monastic groupings in Lower Egypt. Its location long remained uncertain. In 1935 Omar Toussoun wrongly believed he had discovered its ruins near the northwest extremity of the Wadi al- Natrun. It was the exact location of the ancient Nitria …

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Coptic Literature

COPTIC LITERATURE National literatures are defined not only by the language in which they are written but also by ethnic and cultural affinities that bind their authors. That is why we may distinguish an American literature in English from British literature or a Latin-American literature in Spanish from Spanish literature. The literature in the Coptic …

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Basil The Great

BASIL THE GREAT The archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia (330-379). Basil supported the tradition of ATHANASIUS in continuing the defense of orthodoxy against ARIANISM, particularly in Asia Minor. He was an active theologian, but was able to connect theological work with ascetic practice. Basil’s background and education were Hellenistic. The descendant of a rich and …

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