Military Costume

MILITARY COSTUME Since the Copts lived under foreign occupation or domination, which reduced them to a tolerated community, one might think that military service would not be accessible to the Copts. Nevertheless, it is known that Saint PACHOMIUS served in the army for a time in the reign of Constantine, although he was soon discharged. […]

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Spoken Coptic Language

SPOKEN COPTIC LANGUAGE Coptic was the spoken language of ancient Egypt until the ARAB CONQUEST OF EGYPT in the seventh century. It was recorded first in the hieroglyphic (sacred) script, the earliest form of Egyptian pictorial writing, and succeeded by the hieratic (priestly), which was the simplified running script, and the demotic (from “demos,” meaning […]

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Cell

CELL The word cell is very common in monastic texts, but it does not always have the sense given it in Western languages. Because monks inhabited various places, such as tombs, caves, or constructed hermitages, it is necessary to distinguish between them. We find in Greek the words kella (derived from Latin) and its common […]

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Dayr Al-Baramus

DAYR AL-BARAMUS History This monastery is farthest to the northwest in the monastic colony of Wadi al-Natrun (ancient Scetis). The topographic allusions in ancient literature lend some credence to the statement by the author of the Coptic Life of Saint Macarius (probably of the eighth century; cf. Guillaumont, 1968-1969, pp. 182-83) that Dayr al-Baramus evolved […]

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Dayr Al-Fakhuri

DAYR AL-FAKHURI History The “Monastery of the Potter” (it is not known whence this appellation comes) is situated on the edge of the desert, about 6 miles (9 km) north of Isna, near the ancient Asphynis (present-day Asfun al-Mata‘nah). The monastery also bears the name of “Matthew the Poor.” This personage, whose Life survives (or […]

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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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Dayr Anba Shinudah Or Al-Dayr Al-Abyad (White Monastery) (Suhaj)

DAYR ANBA SHINUDAH or al-Dayr al-Abyad (White Monastery) (Suhaj) History The church of this famous monastery still exists at the edge of the Libyan desert, on the left bank of the Nile, about 6 miles (10 km) from the town of Suhaj, often mentioned for its medieval paintings. The name of the site is known […]

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Saint Victor Of Tabennese

SAINT VICTOR OF TABENNESE (feast day: 18 Babah). Saint Victor is known as abbot general of the Tabennesiotes (see MONASTICISM, PACHOMIAN) and local abbot of PBOW. According to the Coptic sources, he was present at the Council of Ephesus (431) with Saint CYRIL and Saint SHENUTE. According to the same sources, he was the natural […]

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Women’s Religious Communities

WOMEN’S RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES From the earliest years in the history of Christianity, there have existed communities of virgins, who dedicated their lives to the service of the Lord, free from all family ties. However, in Egypt, some young women preferred to remain with their families while performing such sacred duties toward others. One of the […]

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Saint Shenute

SAINT SHENUTE A fourth-fifth-century reforming abbot of DAYR ANBA SHINUDAH (the White Monastery), situated near the ancient village of Atrib, near Suhaj, in the region of Akhmim (feast day: 7 Abib). The source material that makes it possible to reconstruct his life and work consists mainly of the literary remains of his own writings and […]

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