The Cliff Churches of Dayr Rifa (ASYUT)

The history of the and CHURCHES IN (ca. ) and the historian (d. 1442) both mention in the region of Dayr Rifa. However, none of these can be identified with certainty as the monastic settlement in the northern part of the Middle and New Kingdom tomb complex in the hills. In the seventeenth century the monk mentioned a Monastery of the in the mountain behind the village of Rifa. In 1901, the Jullien and the architect Somers Clarke both visited the site. They found a village community occupying the monastery and described both churches. A plan of the of supplements Somers Clarke’s description.

The western end of the occupies a tomb chamber, while the eastern end (the room and side chambers) was built outside. The Church of St. (al-Amir Tadros) is established in the largest tomb. The small -brick structure occupies the northern half of the first hall. Neither church has been studied so far.

When the villagers left the monastery to settle in the village of Rifa at the foot of the mountains is not known. Dayr Rifa is now designated a area and is difficult to visit. Twenty years ago the churches were dilapidated and empty. At present, they have been carefully renovated and are in use again.

Somers Clarke already noted the love and pride shown by the villagers for the Church of the Virgin. Georg, Duke of , who visited Dayr Rifa in 1930, confirms this affection. He recounts that at that time the authorities wanted to place the sculptured lintel from the entrance to the church in . The villagers declared that, if necessary, they were willing to defend their church by force of arms. Fortunately, it was unnecessary and the lintel is still in place. This example of protection of monuments deserves to be mentioned, wrote Johann Georg.92

92 Johann Georg, Duke of Saxony, 1931,11.

The tombs of Rifa. The Church of St. Theodore is built in the large tomb zoith two columns. The Church of the Virgin Mary is installed in a tomb to the left.
The tombs of Rifa. The Church of St. Theodore is built in the large tomb zoith two columns. The Church of the Virgin Mary is installed in a tomb to the left.
Western part of the Church of the Virgin Mary.
Western part of the Church of the Virgin Mary.
The Church of the Virgin Mary. The screen with inlay veils the haykal. The lattice screens divide the space into a khurus, a men's section, and a women's section.
The Church of the Virgin Mary. The screen with inlay the . The lattice screens divide the space into a , a men’s section, and a women’s section.
The baptismal font.
The font.
The Church of the Virgin Mary. Engraving of the Virgin in a mother-of-pearl inlay in the altar screen.
The Church of the Virgin Mary. Engraving of the Virgin in a -of-pearl inlay in the altar screen.
The baptismal font.
The baptismal font.
The Church of St. Theodore.
The Church of St. Theodore.
The Church of St. Theodore.
The Church of St. Theodore.

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