Synaxarium Arabo-Jacobiticum

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[pp. 438-443]

SYNAXARIUM ARABO-JACOBITICUM

(13th-14th century)

An Arabic translation of an earlier Coptic redaction. Latest date mentioned: 1242 A.D.

Ed. and French transl.: R. Basset - S. Grébaut, PO 1,3 (1904); 3,3 (1907); 11,5 (1916); 16,2 (1922); 17, 3 (1924); 20,5 (1929).

Exc.: MC 973-977 T.: PO A:1


[Barnabas Bishop of 'Aydhāb]

The 22nd day of Kihak [=27 December]. On this day our father Nābis [= Barnabas] bishop of 'Aydhāb died... He was born in a small village to the east of Qift ... He was found worthy of the episcopal dignity over the churches (kanā’is) of 'Aydhāb. This town is situated on the coast of the Sea of Qulzum, in the territory of the Barbarians (al-barbar) known under the name of Beja (bujāh). Our fathers held this seat (kursī) from the beginning (al-badā) because of the merchants and sailors who voyaged over the Red Sea (Qulzum), so that they could receive Communion (yataquarrabū) there. His residence was at Qift, in a small church (bay’ah), where he prayed and offered the Mass (yataqarrab) together with the few priests [p. 439] who were living with him. He used to send, in turn, one priest and one deacon to 'Aydhāb, because this town is far away from Qift; more than thirteen days in the desert inhabited by the Barbarians (al-barbar)... When he was forced by necessity to go himself, these Beja carried him on their camels, with the church ornaments, and they received the price of the hire of their camels. (PO 3, pp. 499 - 501).

[Qafra the Nubian]

The 23rd day of Kihak [= 19 December]: David, the Prophet. Be it known to you, my brethren, that in this day Anastasius told this story:

When Qafrā the nephew of the King of Nubia (an-Nūba) came to us to embrace the monastic life in this monastery, after three years had elapsed, he came to pay me a visit and said to me: - "My Father, I wish [that you allow me] a small thing". - "What is it my son?" - "I should like to go to the monastery of the holy Abu Shenute, because a monk lives there who used to beg his father for permission to come to see me and he received it; none of the brethren was aware of this. I also wish to have your permission to go to pay him a visit". - I was astonished by this speech and an evil suspicion came into my mind. Can this be true? I asked within myself, yet I granted him the permission. He set out of the monastery while I kept wondering at his desire and the words he had said to me, for I could not believe them.

Diūd, the abbot of the monastery of Abu Shenute, came to see me and told me: - "My son comes every night to your monastery because of a brother who lives there. But today it is seven days since I had no news of him". On the tenth day, my son Qafra arrived full of joy and happiness. He informed me of his arrival. No sooner was I informed than I went to his room and said to him: - "My son: Diūd, [p.440] the abbot of the monastery of Abu Shenute, has come to inform me that for seven days he has not seen his son. I told him about you this very day". - "I prostrate myself before you and bow down my head to the ground", - he said to me. Then I continued: - "By all means you must tell me all about your affair and this brother: do not tell me lies". - "My father, he said, when I left I was going to see this brother. He took me by the hand and led me as one who knows the way. A man passed by us and took the lead. Only one night passed. When the sun rose, we found ourselves in a place full of light, sparkling with splendour, with hanging lamps. I looked around: it was a high building, completely flooded with light. As I turned, I saw an altar covered and concealed with red leather, over which some guardians were watching; nobody could approach. While I was thinking about it as neither I nor my brother, the monk, had previously seen this place, we again found the man who had walked with us on the way during that night, when he made the journey with us and we went from the monastery of Abu Shenute to Jerusalem (bayt al-maqdis). He said to us: - "Look at the veil, then rejoice and be happy and satisfied, make vows and fulfil them [?] and tell [that] this is the city of God, the inheritance; this is the holy tomb of David, the dwelling built by Solomon, son of David". We were so happy at what we were contemplating that our souls were about to leave our bodies, when the servant of the church of the Resurrection (al-qiyāmah) came and found us there. He said to us: - "Where are you from?", and shouted at us. We were frightened and said: - "We have come here to pray". Then he left us. While we were there, the man who had been our guide arrived and said to the guardian: - "God was pleased that these people be found in his dwelling". Then he apologized and showed us around the places and [p. 441] the memorials of our Lord Jesus the Messiah. We stayed there three days. When we decided to come back to our country, this man walked before us; we followed him and soon we found ourselves here in our places.

As for me, when I heard this story of my son Qafra, I believed his vision. I felt extremely astonished at what God had done for his saints, suppressing distances. I wept because of my sin and my fault. (PO 3, pp. 514 - 515).

[The 39 Virgins]

The 6th day of Barmahat [= 2 March].<ref>No indication is given to the assess of the date of this and the following stories of the text</ref> Know, my brethren, that on this day, the Ḥabash (al-Ḥabash) conquered the western part of Egypt (ad-diyār al-miṣriyya): they attacked the multitude of Christians in all those provinces. There was in the mountain [region] of Syut (Asiut) a convent where there were 39 virgins... The Ghozz<ref>"Ghozz" (ghuzz) was the name given in Egypt first to the Turks and later, in general, to [Muslim] marauders.</ref> came to know that and went to the convent. The religious virgins were frightened and asked God to spare them from trials and calamities. The Ghozz surrounded the convent, as they were determined to take them away to their own countries to marry them. The old abbess said to them: - "My daughters, try to save yourselves by any means from these evil tyrants". A young nun of the convent said to the abbess: - "Mother Superior, listen to me: place each one of us in a mat and set fire to it". When they heard these words, they said to the abbess: - "O blessed woman, hasten to do what this holy sister has proposed".... Then she set fire to the mats and whirlwinds of smoke and fire went up to the sky. The enemies entered the convent and found that the fire had [p. 442] burnt all the virgins. They were angry with the abbess and said: - "You are responsible for this action". She climbed to [the highest part of] the convent. They said: - "Come down and listen to us". She threw herself down from the tower and rendered her soul to her Creator." (PO 16, pp. 206-207).

The 1st day of Barmudah [= 27 March]. On this day, the Arabs (ʿurbān) of Upper Egypt, rose and occupied the church of Abu Maqār and ‘Allāqī. They pillaged all that they found in those two churches and in the other monasteries. The monks assembled for prayer and asked the intercession of the holy fathers [the hermits]. Then the Lord Christ drove them [the Arabs] back in the shortest time: they were broken and routed by the sole power of Christ without any other man intervening to drive them back. (PO 16, p. 277).

[Patriarch Maximos [265 - 282 A.D.]]

The 14th day of Bermudah [=9 April]. On this day, the spiritual father, Maximos, patriarch of the city of Alexandria, went to his rest... Our father Dionysios had ordained him a priest.... Our father Dionysios had died before the question of the Council of Antioch, [264 - 269 A.D.] which had been called against Paul of Samosate,<ref>He was accused and later condemned for professing only the human nature in Christ. [268 A.D.]</ref> could be settled. When this father [Maximos] sat on the seat of Mark, he received letters from the heads of the council to inform him of the resolutions and proceedings and concerning the excommunication of Paul and his followers. He read them to the clergy of Alexandria, then he wrote another letter and sent it to all the districts of Egypt, to Habasha and Nubia (an-Nūbah). This is gist: - "Pray God that he destroy and [p. 443] bring to nought in this world the heresy of Paul of Samosate". God listened to their prayer and it was not long before he caused Paul to die and destroyed his evil belief. (PO 16, pp. 306 - 307).

[Patriarch Peter of Alexandria [567 - 569 A.D.]]

The 25th day of Baunah [=19 June]. On this day went to his rest our holy father the zealous Anba Peter (Buṭros), Patriarch of the city of Alexandria. He is the thirty-fourth of the list.

At that time there were, outside Alexandria, six hundred monasteries and thirty two villages, all faithfully Orthodox, besides the Christians of the city of Alexandria and the districts of Egypt and the Ṣa'īd, the monks of the monasteries in the mountain of Shete (Shīhāt), al-Ḥabasha and an-Nūba: all were under the authority of our holy father Peter and behaved according to his orders. He never ceased writing letters, which he sent to all the faithful, strengthening them in the faith, he visited the monasteries of Alexandria, and their villages, teaching exhorting and fortifying them. (PO 17, pp. 595 - 597).

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