YUSAB AL-ABAHH, BISHOP OF JIRJA AND AKHMIM (1735-1826)
A Saint, bishop, theologian. Yusab was a monk of the Monastery of St. Antony who, in 1791, was consecrated Bishop of Jirja and Akhmim. As bishop he was an educator and reformer who strove to counter Catholic preaching in his double diocese. Today he is venerated as a saint of the Coptic Orthodox Church (feast day: 17 Tuba); his remains are kept in the Monastery of St. Antony. Yusab’s reputation as an author rests on the more than 30 treatises that he wrote and that are sometimes gathered together in the manuscript tradition under the title Silah al-mu’munin (The Believers’ Weapon).
These cover a wide range of topics, from the explanation of difficult verses of scripture (e.g., Matt. 18:9: “If your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out”) to abuses in the church of his day (e.g., chatting in church or giving lavish private parties to celebrate saints’ days), but they also reflect controversy with Catholics, Muslims, and others.