Severus of Al'Ashmunein (Hermopolis), History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic church of Alexandria (1910) Part 3: Agathon - Michael I (766 AD). Patrologia Orientalis 5 pp. 3-215 (pp.257-469 of text).
ARABIC TEXT EDITED, TRANSLATED, AND ANNOTATED
AGATHON, THE THIRTY-NINTH PATRIARCH. A. D. 661-677.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, the one God.
The second division of the histories of the holy Church, consisting of six chapters and the lives of fourteen patriarchs.
Agathon was the son of the patriarch Benjamin in the spirit, not in the flesh; and he is the thirty-ninth in the series of the patriarchs.
When the great champion and maintainer of the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and teacher of the orthodox creed, Abba Benjamin, returned from banishment, and resumed his seat upon the evangelical throne in the Church of God, he restored that which had been overthrown by Heraclius, and by the impure Chalcedonian Council, in the person of Proterius. For this Father Abba Benjamin reconstructed all things, and set them in order with the help of the Lord Christ, the Good Shepherd, who gave his life for his |4 sheep, according to his words in his pure Gospel 1 : «The Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep». So Benjamin walked in the footsteps of his Lord, and carried his cross and followed him, and endured trials and woes and great temptations till death for the right faith, but neither retreated nor turned backwards in his conflict, until he had finished it; so that he received his reward with the saints, his fathers, who preceded him. As David says 2 in the Psalms : «Precious before the Lord is the death of his pure ones».
So the Father Benjamin died. And the faitful God-fearing people, by the command of the Lord, took that God-fearing priest Agathon, and enthroned him as patriarch, according to the agreement of his name with his actions; for he was good and his conduct was good, adorned with every noble deed, full of the grace of the Holy Ghost and of the orthodox faith.
Now the Muslims were fighting against the Romans furiously. And the Romans had a prince whose name was Tiberius, whom they had made their ruler, and who possessed many islands. So the Muslims took the Romans captive, and carried them away from their own country to a strange land. Thus with regard to Sicily and all its provinces, they took possession of that island, and ravaged it, and brought the people captives to Egypt. And this holy patriarch Agathon was sad at heart when he saw his fellow-Christians in the hands of the Gentiles; and as the conquerors had offered many souls of them for sale, he bought them and set them free. But they |5 were followers of the impure and heretical sects, known as the Gaianites, who do not communicate with the orthodox, and as the Barsanuphians.
And Abba Agathon did not neglect to ordain bishops in every place, that they might bring back the sheep which Satan had led astray to the Church of the Lord Christ. Therefore Satan brought down upon him great trouble on account of his purity of heart and excellence of character.
In those days Alexandria was governed by a man whose name was Theodore 3, who was a chief among a congregation of the Chalcedonians, and was an opponent of the orthodox Theodosians. This man went to Damascus to the leader of the Muslims, whose name was Yazîd, son of Mu'âwiyah, and received from him a diploma giving him authority over the people of Alexandria and Maryût and all the neighbouring districts, and declaring that the governor of Egypt had no jurisdiction over him; for he had given Yazîd much money. Then Theodore returned and tyrannised over the father, Abba Agathon, and troubled him; not only demanding of him the money which he was bound to pay, and taking from him thirty-six denarii as poll-tax every year, on account of his disciples, but that which he spent upon the sailors in the fleet he also exacted from him. And whenever he wanted funds he required the patriarch to supply them. But the community of the Chalcedonians would not associate with this man. The |6 patriarch needed seven thousand denarii to satisfy the demands of Theodore the Chalcedonian, besides the taxes upon his property, and was prevented from leaving his cell by the governor's cruel hostility on account of his orthodox faith, for he even issued a command, saying : «Whoever shall see the pope of the Theodosians going out by night or by day, may stone him to death, and I will be responsible for him». So the Father Agathon lay hid during the days of that impious official, praying for him according to the injunction of the Gospel 4 : «Love your enemies, bless those that curse you». In the days of Abba Agathon was built the church which was dedicated in the name of the Father Macarius. And the brethren multiplied so that they built the cells near the Marsh; and they increased by the grace of the Lord Christ, and the believing brethren assisted them. In those days there appeared at the monastery a man, pure in body and clean of heart, learned in the two kinds of wisdom, the ecclesiastical and the secular, whose name was John, a native of Samannûd. While he was making a pilgrimage to the desert he was attacked by a sore sickness, and none of the seniors believed that he would be healed. Then one night he saw a dream as if one in human form giving forth light and in great glory, sitting on the throne of the Seraphim and surrounded by a multitude, |7 alighted near the door of his cell. And he beheld a band of seniors, the holy fathers who live in the desert, going forward to receive the blessing: of him that sat on the throne. And he said in his own mind : «If I had some one who would take me, I also would go forward to this great heavenly king, and receive his blessing, and then perchance I should recover from this sickness and pain». At that moment there approached him one of those who had been standing around the throne and him that sat upon it, a man clothed in the raiment of the patriarchs and apostles, and holding upon his breast a book like the gospel; and he said : «Wilt thou that I bring thee to our Lord that he may grant thee the grace of healing?» Then John prostrated himself before that man with tears and prayed him saying : «Have pity on me, O my Lord, and take me to him, for I am in great trouble». So that holy one answered and said to him, for he was a priest : «O John, tell me that, if thou shalt be healed by the Lord, thou wilt be a son to me, and I will take thee to him». And he promised him in the vision that he would be a son to him until the day of his death; and that man took his hand and brought him to the Saviour of the world. Thereupon John fell prostrate at his feet, and the Saviour said to him : «O John, why love ye vanity, ye sons of men, and neglect the truth, and seek lies 5? Behold, didst thou intend in coming hither to build for thyself a cell of clay which will quickly disappear, or to lay up for thyself treasures in heaven, |8 and erect for thyself in the heavenly Jerusalem, the new city, a mansion which will not perish?» So he fell at his feet and prayed to be forgiven. And the Lord raised him up and said to him : «Now I grant thee the healing of thy sickness for the sake of Mark the Evangelist; therefore depart, and do all that he bids thee». Then the Lord ascended to heaven with glory and majesty.
After that John awoke from his dream, healed of his sickness. And he meditated, saying : «What is this that has now been done?» Then consolation descended upon him from that day. And he went to a monastery in the province of the Faiyûm, accompanied by his two disciples; and he concealed himself there.
Subsequently there appeared to Abba Agathon one who said to him : «Send to John the priest, who is of Samannûd, that he may help thee and assist thee; for it is he that shall sit after thee upon the throne». Accordingly the patriarch despatched some of the clergy to the bishop of the Faiyûm, Abba Mennas, and wrote bidding him send to him the priest John. Now that bishop loved John, and profited by his discourse, but he could not contradict the Father Patriarch. So he sent the messengers to John, and they brought him in a boat, and the bishop despatched him to Alexandria.
When the patriarch saw John he rejoiced over him. because he was very wise; and therefore he delivered to him his church, and gave him |9 authority over it and over the city. And some of the people prayed him to ordain John bishop over Upper Egypt, and others suggested some other see. But God was reserving him for his gentleness like David, that he might accomplish for him what had been promised in the vision in Wadî Habîb.
And that true father, Agathon, was occupied all his days in providing for the ordination of priests who were worthy of the laying on of hands and were fall of the fear of God; while men thanked God for his deeds. In his time lived the blessed bishop Gregory, bishop of Al-Kais, and a Syrian, whose name was Joseph. In his days also appeared the foul heresy of the Monk.
There was a commander among the Muslims, whose name was Maslamah, and he called together seven bishops, and sent them to Sakha on business connected with some people there, who were alleged to have burnt with fire some of the clerks employed there. The bishops were directed to try the accused; and, when they arrived at Sakha, they acted in concert with a man who was a magistrate there, named Isaac, and they corrected the state of affairs; and those men were healed from the burning. And the said Isaac came to an agreement with the governor of Sakha, and together they prevailed over Theodore the Chalcedonian who was at Alexandria. For this Isaac had received authority over the whole province on his account, because of the harm that he had done to the patriarch. |10
Then the patriarch Agathon finished his days in a good old age, and at the end he fell sick after remaining seventeen years upon his throne, and went to his rest on the 16th of Babah. And his body was placed, as it is written in the history of Saint Macarius, with the Father Benjamin. He died keeping the orthodox faith, and is now wearing the crown of righteousness with all the saints in the land of the living for ever and ever. Amen.
JOHN III, OF SAMANNUD, THE FORTIETH PATRIARCH. A. D. 677-686.
When the holy father, Abba Agathon, went to his rest, Theodore the Chalcedonian laid his hand on everything, so that they did not find even bread to eat on the day of the patriarch's death; for he set his seal on all that belonged to Agathon, and on all that they had. But at last the Lord took vengeance on Theodore by a sore plague in his vitals, namely the disease of the dropsy; and he began to eat every day twelve pounds of bread and twenty-four pounds of meat and two baskets of figs, and to drink daily one skin of wine of Maryût; and yet neither his hunger nor his thirst was satisfied, nor was his belly filled. Thus he died an evil death.
And his son was appointed governor instead of him, and became like a son to our father Abba John, for he had confidence in him and love for him. Thus the Father Patriarch led him like a son. At the beginning of his |11 occupation of the see took place the slaying of Tiberius who was prince of Byzantium; and his son took the empire, and his name was Augustus. And when this man began to reign, he made war upon the coasts which the Muslims had taken, and recovered them. And he took many islands of which the Muslims had gained possession, and so likewise he restored Sicily.
At that time there arose one who was no true monk in the city of Constantinople, whose name was Maximus; and he stirred up disturbance and trouble in his country. For he said : «If you truly believe in the faith of Chalcedon, then confess the doctrine of two Natures and two Persons and two Hypostases and two Wills and two Velleities, which the council taught.» So many people followed him; and there arose a great dispute between the two parties. And Augustus the prince was angry with them, and sent this man who was no true monk into exile. And this prince went to Sicily after a time, and was killed there like a slaughtered victim by one of his two attendants.
After him his son Justinian ruled the empire instead of him, and he was a bold prince; and the fear of him fell upon the hearts of the Muslims as when a lion leaps out upon a pack of wolves.
But in those days, after the death of Yazîd, the son of Mu'âwiyah, there arose from the land of the Muslims a prince, whose name was Marwân, who rushed forth like a lion when he comes out of his den hungry, and |12 devours the rest or tramples them under foot. He took possession of the East and of Fustât Misr. And he made his sons governors over all the provinces. To the eldest of them, whose name was Abd al-Malik, he gave Damascus; and to the second, Abd al-Azîz, he gave Egypt.
And there was great enmity between Marwân and the Egyptians, because they had set their hopes on the arrival of another man, whose name was Ibn az-Zubair. But when he arrived, Marwân defeated him. And there were appointed for Abd al-Azîz two secretaries, trustworthy and orthodox, whom he set over the whole of the land of Egypt and Maryût and Marâkiyah and Pentapolis which is Libya. One of them was named Athanasius, and he had three sons, and was a native of Edessa in the land of Syria; while the other's name was Isaac, and he and his two sons were natives of Shubrâ Tani, of a good and orthodox family.
And when Abd al-Azîz became governor of Egypt, the Father Patriarch wrote from Alexandria to Misr to the two scribes who presided over his divan, to make known to them what had been done concerning the seal, which was set upon all the places, and the trouble with the misbelieving Chalcedonians from which he was suffering. Thereupon the said scribes sent messengers to Alexandria with instructions that the seal should be broken in the places named, and that all the property of the Church should be delivered to the Father Patriarch.
Now this father was a saint, and the grace of God appeared in his face |13 as in Moses the prophet, so that none could look upon his face, nor discern its features nor the sockets of his eyes, on account of the great light which was upon it. And the Lord healed many of the sick through his prayers; and he was a virgin in soul and body; and he lived in peace with all men. And his deeds and wonders were manifested, so that even the prince and all in his palace heard of them, and sent gifts to him from Constantinople. And in the first year that Abd al-Azîz became governor, he went to Alexandria, according to the custom of those who were appointed governors, to receive its taxes, which were every day a thousand denarii in cash. Then much money was sent to the prince of the Romans; and there was a truce for ten years without war. When the governor arrived at the city, since his entry was not public but private, the patriarch did not go forth to meet him, because he did not know of his coming. Thereupon he was denounced by many people, misbelievers and heretics, whose leader was a man named Theophanes, the husband of the sister of Theodore the Chalcedonian; for they said that he did not go forth nor meet him on account of the greatness of his pride and haughtiness, and his great wealth. Then Abd al-Azîz sent in anger and summoned the blessed Abba John to the palace, and made him stand before him, and said to him : «What is the cause of thy stiff-necked pride and of thy delay in coming forth to meet me outside this city?» The blessed one answered and said to him : « God knows that I did not |14 do this on account of stiffness of neck, but on account of my weakness, and because I cannot always go forth from the city to another place». Then the Amir was angry and delivered him to certain officers until he should pay a hundred thousand denarii; and he was received into custody by the governor of a castle, who was named Samad, a man without mercy, hard of heart and full of evil. This man received the patriarch on the first day of the Great Week before Easter; and took him and brought him to his dwelling, to torment him until he should pay the money. Afterwards he made him stand before him; and there were with the patriarch two men of good families, namely Arâs the priest, steward of the property of the Church, a man of peace, adorned with every excellence, famous for his gentleness among the inhabitants of the whole city, and the deacon, his secretary, a wise man, loving his fellows, learned in the Scriptures, and virtuous. So when that evil man made our father, the patriarch, stand before him, he said to him : «I require of thee one hundred thousand denarii, which the Amir commands thee to pay». So he answered and said to him calmly and quietly : «Thou demandest of me one hundred thousand denarii, and I have not out of that sum one hundred thousand drachmae. But my God has not put in his law a command that I should save anything for myself, or gain money at all, for it is the root of all evil. Do therefore whatever it pleases thee to do. My body is in thy hands, but my soul and body are both in the hands of my Lord Jesus Christ». When the misbeliever heard this, |15 he was greatly indignant, and he gnashed with his teeth at the saint, and commanded that a brazen vessel full of coals of fire should be brought, and his feet placed in it until he should say that he would pay the money. But God, the ruler of his servants, sent down that night upon the wife of the Amir Abd al-Azîz a sore sickness, so that she was troubled and sent her eunuch to Samad, to say to him : «Take heed that thou do no harm to that man of God, the patriarch, whom they have delivered to thee; for great trials have befallen me on account of him this night». So Samad against his will released the patriarch, as well as his two good and excellent sons, until the morrow, that he might take thought as to what he should do with him.
Then at the time of cock-crow Samad went to the Amir and had an interview with him, and made known to him what had happened, and that he had not put the patriarch to the torture. So the Amir said to him : «Beware of touching his body, because of what has befallen us this night on his account. But whatever thou canst obtain from him, take it from him by gentle means, and if that be impossible, yet do no harm to him, for God has revealed to me that he is his servant».
So Samad returned to his house. And it was now Tuesday in the Great Week. So he summoned John, the holy patriarch, before him, and threatened him with many threats, and brought him the garments of a Jew, and swore that if he would not pay the sum of money that he had first |16 required of him, he would clothe him with those garments, and defile his face with ashes, and lead him round the whole city. But John was not at all afraid, but kept saying to him with a brave heart : «Even if the Lord my God does not save me from thy hand, yet thou hast no power to do aught to me except by his command». Then Samad the misbeliever said to him : «I will yield to thee fifty thousand denarii; and thou shalt pay fifty thousand denarii; and I will release thee to negotiate as thou canst, and raise that sum for me». The saintly patriarch answered and said to him : «The only things that I can dispose of are my garments which are upon my body». After that Samad did not cease to lower his demands until he reached ten thousand denarii. So the patriarch said to him : «I will not promise what I cannot perform». Then when the news came to the secretaries who administered the affairs of Alexandria that the sum demanded had come down to ten thousand denarii, they sent to Abba John and said to him : «Undertake to pay the ten thousand denarii, and we will divide the debt among the bishops and the secretaries and the divans in which we serve, so that nothing may happen to the Church».
Then they went to Abd al-Azîz, and prayed him to summon the patriarch, and hear from him what he had to say. And that day was the Great Thursday. So when the governor had sent for him, and raised his eyes to him, he saw him as if he were in the similitude of an angel of God. Then he commanded at once that an ample cushion should be brought for Abba John; and when it was laid down, he sat upon it. And Abd al-Azîz said to him : |17 «Knowest thou not that the governor may not be thwarted?» The saint answered and said to him : «The governor's command is obeyed in what is right, but his orders are disobeyed when they are displeasing to God. For our Lord says in the Gospel 6 : Fear not those that kill the body, and have no power over the soul, but fear him who can destroy the soul and the body together : that is to say God, who alone can do this» Then the Amir said to him : «Thy God loves honesty and truth». The patriarch replied : «My God is all truth, and there is no lie in him; but he destroys all those that speak lies». The Amir answered and said to him : «Thou art honest with me. Therefore whatever the Christians shall give to thee, because I demanded it of thee, give it to me, and I will require no more of thee». So the secretaries said to the patriarch : «Do this». Accordingly the patriarch accepted that proposal, and the Amir released him with honour and joy, while gladness and rejoicing were spread among the orthodox, but sorrow and shame among the enemies of the Church.
And the blessed patriarch rode forth from the governor's palace, amid the acclamations of the people, who walked before him, while he was mounted on his horse, with chanting and singing, until he entered the church. There he blessed the basin of water, and washed the feet of the people; and afterwards he celebrated the Liturgy, and carried the Holy Mysteries, and |18 communicated the people. Then he returned to his Cell, by the mercy and help of God.
Much shame and sorrow came to the heretics from this, and more to those who had accused him than to any other, and especially to Theophanes the governor of Maryût. For in those days the Amir arrested him suddenly, and delivered him to the secretary, who sent him to prison, and afterwards put him to death after severe torments. And he went to Hell.
God, the only worker of miracles, vouchsafed to the Father Patriarch acceptance and favour with the Amir, who commanded throughout the city that none should address the patriarch except with good words nor say any evil of him, and that none should hinder him in what he desired, nor in going out of the city nor coming into it. Then the magistrates and believing scribes and all the orthodox people found their opportunity, and assisted Abba John, until he had paid the Amir the sum that he had finally demanded of him. And after that they assisted him also in the rebuilding of the church of the glorious martyr and evangelist Saint Mark; and he completed it in three years with every kind of decoration, and bought for it house-property in Misr and in Maryût and in Alexandria. And he built a mill to grind wheat into flour for making biscuit, and a press for linseed oil, and many houses which he settled upon the church of the holy Saint Mark. And the Lord blessed him in every way in his deeds and words. In his days also the orthodox received into their community the people of Agharwah and the people |19 of the Xoite nome, who had been Chalcedonians. Thus the grace of Christ helped and strengthened him.
And he prayed the Lord to reveal to him who was fit to sit after him upon the throne. So when he heard of a brother, named Isaac, learned, excellent, clothed with every virtue, who was serving God in the monastery of the holy Saint Macarius in Wadî Habîb, and had been spiritual son to a bishop, named Zacharias, full of the grace of the Holy Ghost in his venerable character and dignity and humility and good deeds, then the holy patriarch John wrote and summoned that brother to himself, and guarded him like the pupil of his eye. And the brother Isaac was engaged in the works of God, and in writing and copying books; but the patriarch notwithstanding that commanded him to become his partner in administering the affairs of the Church.
Then there came a dearth in the days of the holy John, the said patriarch, which lasted three years; but God assisted this father in supporting the poor of the city during three years; for, if he had not done so, they would have perished in the famine. He gave them their food twice every week, and also gave them money; and the mill for biscuit did not cease working night or day, but continued to grind for those that were destitute. |20
And the patriarch's eye was full of affection, and he was great in charity, and used to give alms as abundant as the sea; and he neglected nothing in his works which could please God, like John the Evangelist. At last he was attacked by a disease in his feet, arising from the gout, and he was greatly tormented by it, until the physicians treated him by the advice of his family and of the brethren who surrounded him.
At that time Abd al-Azîz journeyed to Misr, and Abba John travelled in company with him, until he arrived at the capital. There the patriarch suffered from a sharp pain in his side; and when the Amir was informed of it, he was sorry for him, and sent the secretaries to visit him; and they prepared a boat for him, that he might return down the river to Alexandria. And the writer of this history was with him, for he was his spiritual son. When he arrived at the city of Alexandria, the news was brought to the assembly of the bishops that he was prostrate with fever. So they entered to him. And there were in company with them Gregory, bishop of Al-Kais, and Abba John, bishop of Niciu, and Abba James, bishop of Arwât, and Abba John, bishop of Sakhâ, and Abba Theodore, bishop of Metelites, and a body of the laity: and they were all sad because they saw their shepherd called from earth to heaven. For indeed none remained in their generation |21 like him in his deeds. And when he came to the church of the holy Saint Mark the Evangelist, which he had rebuilt by the incomprehensible decrees of God, they carried him and brought him into the great altar. Thereupon he stood up by the power of the Spirit, and said the whole of the prayer of thanksgiving; and then he lost consciousness. After that they carried him and brought him into his chamber; and so he gave up his spirit into the hand of the Lord Christ in glory and honour.
The period during which he remained on the throne was nine years; and he went to his rest on the first day of Kîhak. And his body was laid in the place which he had built for himself before his death, in the church of Saint Mark the Apostle, with chanting and praises ascending to God. To whom belong glory and honour and praise and majesty and power for ever and ever. Amen.
ISAAC, THE FORTY-FIRST PATRIARCH. A. D. 686-689 7.
This is the father, Abba Isaac, of whom it was revealed to the father, Abba John, that he should sit after him, by his prayers and wishes, |22 according to what has been related before. For the Scripture says 8 that the Lord visits his chosen ones. And it says also 9 : «None shall take an honour by himself unless it be given him by the Lord from heaven». And it says in the Psalm 10 : «Blessed is he whom thou choosest and receivest unto thee». For when Abba John departed to the Lord in good remembrance, the bishops assembled together under the presidency of Gregory, the bishop of Al-Kais; and James, bishop of Arwât, and John, bishop of Niciu, and a body of bishops and of the Christian laity took counsel with the clergy of Alexandria, and associated with themselves the secretary who was commissioner for the city; and they agreed that they should promote the deacon George, who was a native of Sakhâ, to the dignity of patriarch, without consulting the Amir Abd al-Azîz. For they said : «If he is angry with us or murmurs, we will tell him that Abba John, the patriarch, commanded us that this man should sit in his place after his death, and made us promise and swear to this, and so we could not oppose him». Then they took the deacon George, and ordained him priest, and clothed him with the monastic |23 habit; and they proclaimed in the church that on the morrow the patriarch would be consecrated, forgetting the words of the Scripture 11 : «The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought, and maketh the thoughts of the people to be of no effect, and hindereth the commands of princes». And when the morrow came, they clothed the deacon George with the vestment of the patriarchal office, and prepared what they needed, and brought him forth in pomp. But while they were intent upon his consecration, they met the archdeacon of the city, whose name was Mark, and who was a man of understanding, virtuous, and of high reputation in the city; and he forbad them, saying : «If you will not come to the church on Sunday, according to the custom prescribed by the canons, when all the people of the city shall be assembled, I will not assist in the ordination of this man». Now this was God's command, that he might promote that man whom he had chosen at first, namely Abba Isaac, the monk, who was a native of Shubrâ.
For when the morrow came, some of the attendants of the Amir arrived and said : «Where is he whom they have appointed patriarch, and where are the bishops and the priests who appointed him, that we may take them to Misr under our charge?» So they took them and departed. Then, when they had enquired into the affair, they found that the documents bore witness that it was not George of whom Abba John had spoken during his lifetime. So the Amir Abd al-Azîz was angry, and cancelled George's nomination, and commanded them to appoint Isaac. And the thing was |24 from God. So the bishops took him, and ordained him, and he sat upon the patriarchal throne for three years.
And the Lord was with Abba Isaac helping him, so that he repaired the Great Church of the Holy Mark, when its walls were sloping in, and also renewed the episcopal residence. And by his means the liturgies in the churches of the orthodox, where they could not be performed before, were restored. And he built a church at Hulwân, because at that place he used to go to visit the Amir Abd al-Azîz, who had commanded the magistrates of Upper Egypt and all the provinces to build, each one of them for himself, a residence at the town of Hulwân.
In those days the patriarch addressed letters to the king of the Abyssinians and the king of the Nubians, bidding them make peace together and praying that there might be no ill will between them; and he wrote this on account of a dispute which there was between the two. Thereupon certain intriguers seized the opportunity of slandering Abba Isaac before Abd al-Azîz, who was greatly incensed, and sent his officers to bring him that he might put him to death. But the secretaries wrote letters different from the patriarch's letters, and gave them to the messengers whom he had sent to the Abyssinians, and took those first letters from them, in fear for the patriarch. This they only did lest evil should befall the Church. And before the patriarch was brought before the Amir, they informed him that the messengers were there, and the letters with them. So he sent |25 in haste to seek them, and took the letters; and when he had perused them, he found nothing in them of what had been told him. Thus his anger was pacified, and he sent at once, and bade the patriarch return to Alexandria, and did not cause him again after this to come up southwards.
Then he commanded to destroy all the crosses which were in the land of Egypt, even the crosses of gold and silver. So the Christians in the land of Egypt were troubled. Moreover he wrote certain inscriptions, and placed them on the doors of the churches at Misr and in the Delta, saying in them : «Muhammad is the great Apostle of God, and Jesus also is the Apostle of God. But verily God is not begotten and does not beget.»
Then the blessed one went to his rest and departed to the Lord in peace, keeping the orthodox faith, and wearing the crown of righteousness with all the Saints; and after his decease, his body was put in the place which he had prepared in the church of Saint Mark, with chanting and hymns. And the people and the priests took care as to whom they should promote after him upon the throne of the patriarchate. And a dispute took place between the clergy of Saint Mark the Evangelist and the clergy of the church of the Angelion in the city. For some said with regard to John, the Hegumen in the Monastery of Az-Zajâj, which is called in Greek To Enaton, that he was worthy of this office, because he was a learned man and a writer, |26 and he was also godfather to the government-secretary; but others spoke of a man, whose name was Victor, Hegumen of the Monastery of Taposiris, who was also an excellent person. When the people of the church of the Angelion were informed of John, they rejoiced, and the secretary supported them, because it was the Great Church, and there were one hundred and forty ecclesiastics attached to it. So Theodore, the magistrate of the city of Alexandria, wrote for them to the Amir Abd al-Azîz, to inform him of John, the Hegumen of the Monastery of Az-Zajâj; saying that the choice of the community had fallen upon him, that he should be patriarch.
Now the period, during which our father, the patriarch Abba Isaac, remained on the apostolic throne, was two years and nine months. And he went to his rest on the second day of Hatûr, and departed to the Lord Christ, keeping the faith, and ruling his flock. According to another copy, however, he is said to have remained in the patriarchal office three years. May the Lord have mercy upon us by his prayers, and the prayers of all whose works he approves! Amen. |27
SIMON I, THE FORTY-SECOND PATRIARCH. A. D. 689-701.
There was with Abba John in the monastery a holy man fearing God, excellent, learned more than many in his generation, whose name was Simon, of the people of the East, whose parents had brought him to Alexandria in his youth, and given him as an offering to the Church like Samuel, for the sake of the body of the holy Saint Severus; for it lies in a shrine in that monastery, and the Syrians used to bring to it gifts and votive offerings. Then the aforesaid Theodore took Simon, who was then a deacon, at the beginning of the days of Abba Agathon, and brought him to Abba John, that he might teach him the art of writing, and the sections of the Scriptures. And by the grace of the Lord Christ who was with him he learnt the Old Testament and much of the New in a short time, for Abba John was excellent as a teacher. So, when Abba Agathon saw that Simon was good in his conduct, he ordained him priest, so that he was the second in rank in the monastery, after his spiritual father John. Then, in consequence of what has been related, the Amir wrote a letter, and sent to summon John, whose spiritual son Simon travelled with him, besides some of the clergy of Alexandria, and Theodore the magistrate in their company. When they arrived, they gave the Amir their letter, containing the name of John: and |28 so the Amir wished to see him. And when the Amir saw John, his heart inclined towards him, because he was a handsome person, beautiful in countenance. Then he asked the priests and bishops concerning him, and they answered : «Yea, he is fit».
But there happened on that day a wonderful thing, like the matter of Phares and Zara, or like Adonias and Solomon, the sons of David. And this was that, after the appointment of John had been confirmed, God raised up one of the bishops like Daniel at that time, without collusion or consultation with anyone, and he said : «This man shall not be our patriarch». Thereupon silence and wonder fell upon all the people, so that none answered him a syllable. So the Amir enquired : «Then who is fit, sayest thou?» Then the bishop said in the presence of the assembly : «Simon is worthy of this degree». So the Amir commanded that Simon should be brought before him. And when he saw him, he asked them and said : «Whence comes this man?» So it was told him : «He is a Syrian of the people of the East». When he learnt this, he said to the bishops : «Then can you not appoint one of your own country?» And they answered him and said to him : «Verily the man whom we chose we brought before thee; but the matter belongs to God, and in the second place to thee». Then he turned to the blessed Simon, and asked him whether he approved this |29 venerable John as patriarch. And Simon gave his assent and said to him : «There is not found in the land of Egypt nor in the East one who is as worthy as this man, and he is my spiritual father, and my master from my youth; and his life is as the life of the angels». So when the Amir heard this, he marvelled greatly. And there was a great multitude assembled; and a shout was raised among the magistrates and bishops and clergy, who cried : «May God prolong the life of the Amir for us many years! Deliver the see to Simon, for he is worthy to be patriarch. As was Abba Benjamin, so is Simon. Verily the Church supports them». When the Amir looked at them, and heard their words with regard to a foreigner whom they had not known at all for more than two days, then he bade them with God's help take him and ordain him patriarch. And he commanded the greater part of the bishops to travel in his company. Accordingly they brought him to Alexandria, and enthroned him upon the apostolic throne in the Great Church, called the Angelion. Thus the orthodox people had great joy and peace and unity in the Church, and her affairs grew in prosperity day by day.
Then Abba Simon set his spiritual father John over the affairs of the |30 Church, while he devoted himself to the study of the holy Scriptures. And as long as John lived, the Father Patriarch did not occupy himself with any of the affairs of the Church, but gave all that up to John his father, in the same way that he used to do with him in the monastery, obeying him and calling him «My Father».
Then Abba Simon wrote a synodical epistle to Julian, patriarch of Antioch, at which the latter marvelled; and Simon sent it by certain bishops, and in it he reminded Julian of unity, and that this one faith and unity were between the two sees, Alexandria and Antioch. Then, when Julian studied it, he found it full of the wisdom of God and of the spiritual books, and he rejoiced greatly; and he preached in his church in the name of the father Abba Simon. He also wrote him an answer to his synodical letter, and sent back his envoys with rich gifts to Egypt.
When Simon had continued three years, his father John went to his rest in peace, and was counted worthy that the blessed Simon the Patriarch should lay his hand upon his eyes, and even shroud him with his own hand. Thus he received his father's blessing and carried him to the monastery, and buried him, and remained beside him forty days, until he had built a tomb for him. And he laid his body in it, and made it large enough to contain his own body, when he should die, that he might be buried with him therein.
Then there came to Abba Simon a trial from God, who proves his elect and purifies them like one who purifies pure silver from dross, so that they |31 become like pure gold; and by the grace of the Lord Christ he endured until he obtained the crown. For he was a man salted with salt, like the salt of the Gospel, having no hypocrisy nor greediness of comfort or of meat or drink, but during his whole life his breakfast was bread and crushed salt with cummin and purslain or such like herbs, that he might weaken the force of his bodily appetites, and make the flesh the servant of the spirit. He used not to associate with the bishops or clergy, because he used to seek solitude so as to observe the times of prayer; and for this reason he was hated by the people of Alexandria. Therefore some of the clergy went to certain magicians, and gave them gold so that they made for them by their magic art a deadly poison, which they put in the vessel in which the Father Simon, the patriarch, used to drink, and brought it to him that he might take some of it. But he had communicated of the Holy Mysteries before he drank of it, and therefore, when he swallowed it, it did not injure him. Then those parricides did the same thing a second time, but it did not hurt him nor do him injury. So when the magicians saw this, they were amazed at what had happened to this saint. Then indeed they took fair figs out of season, and put deadly poison in them, and charged the priests, and said to them : «Give him these to eat, while he is fasting without food, and has not made his communion, and then he will burst asunder in the midst». So they brought him the fruit with cunning and |32 hypocrisy, and begged him and entreated him to eat of them; and there were some who pointed them out to him, and induced him to swallow of the poisoned figs. Accordingly his bowels were moved that night, and he remained forty days in great anguish, so that every one thought his death inevitable. But the Lord who gives life raised him up, and showed forth a miracle in him. And there appeared to him in a vision one who said to him : «For what cause dost thou endure these trials?»
So when the Amir came to the city, he looked upon Abba Simon, and his appearance was changed through that which had happened to him; and when the Amir asked the reason of this change, he was told by the scribes that four of the priests had given the patriarch poison to drink. Thereupon the Amir commanded that they should be burnt alive, and the magician with them, outside the city, on the north side of it, in a place called Pharos. But when they were about to burn them, the patriarch fell upon his face with many tears before the Amir, and interceded with him for them, saying to him : «If anything happens to them on my account, I must be suspended from my office, for it is not right that I should be patriarch after that». Then the Amir marvelled at the goodness of his acts, and commanded that the ecclesiastics should be released, but that the magicians should be burnt alive on account of their former deeds. So they were burnt in the fire.
After this, Abba Simon committed to Abba John, bishop of Niciu, the management of the affairs of the monasteries, because he was conversant |33 with the life of the monks, and knew their rules; and he gave him authority over them. At this time the monks were industriously rebuilding the cells, while the officials took charge of their maintenance. Then, however, some of those who were given up to their appetites took a virgin out of her monastery, and conveyed her to Wadî Habîb and committed sin with her secretly. When this was made known among the monks, there was great distress among them, the like of which had not been heard of in that place. So the bishop took the monk who had committed the sin, and inflicted a painful beating upon him; and ten days after his punishment that monk died. Then when the affair became known, all the bishops in the land of Egypt assembled in secret and enquired of the bishop what had happened to the monk, so he informed them concerning the event, and confessed that it was he who had beaten him; and therefore they condemned him to be deposed, because he had transgressed the limit of what humanity required in him. So they deposed him, and he was silent while they did so; and they had said to him : «It is unlawful for thee henceforth to approach any of the vessels of the sanctuary, but thou shalt receive the Mysteries like a mere monk». Then he cried and said to the people : «Since you have deposed me unjustly, the Lord, the God whose name I know, shall make you |34 all, O ye bishops, strangers to your sees until the end of the time during which you have condemned me». Then they appointed another man, named Mennas, of the monastery of Saint Macarius, to be bishop in his stead; yet he was a man held in honour, powerful in words, loving the brethren.
But after a few days the saying of this holy bishop was fulfilled upon the bishops who assisted to depose him, and upon all the bishops; for a calamity came upon them. There were at that time men who were like the Gentiles, and abstained from their lawful wives, and took unlawful mistresses, showing their subjection to their passions; and yet they said that they were Christians. But the bishops rejected them, and repulsed them from the Holy Mysteries. So some of them went to the Amir and said to him : «We are forbidden to marry, and they have cast us out so that we are forced to commit fornication». Then he was angry, and assembled the bishops from their sees to Alexandria. Accordingly sixty-four bishops were gathered together, but they knew not why they had come nor the cause of their meeting; and they used to pay their respects to the Amir every week. And the heretics, who were no true bishops, also met there, namely, Theophylact, a bishop of the Chalcedonians, and Theodore, who was one of the Gaianite adherents of Eutyches; and of the followers of Barsanuphi there was George, besides a number of others who were called bishops, and who had also been called together. |35
Then when it was Sunday, news came to the Amir that the army of the Romans had risen against the prince Justinian, and deposed him, and had appointed Leontius instead of him. So the governor at once commanded that the magistrates of every province should be gathered together, and the people of Alexandria and the bishops and the Muslims, that he might make known to them the disaster of the Romans. So a great multitude was then gathered together, and they said : «It has always been the custom of. the Romans that one prince is deposed and another takes his seat». Then the Amir commanded on that day that the Liturgies of the Christians should be forbidden. For the Muslims said that the Christians were in error, giving God a wife and a son, and uttering many falsehoods in their religion; and the Amir rebuked their want of agreement in the doctrines of religion.
Then he turned to Theodore the bishop, chief of the Gaianites, and said to him : «Of these three bishops, which is nearest to thee, and whom does thy soul receive?» He answered : «Abba Simon». Then the Amir turned to Theophylact, the bishop, leader of the Melkites, and said to him : «Which is nearest to thee, and whose religion preferrest thou?» So he said : «I prefer the religion of Abba Simon.» Then Abd al-Azîz said to George, the Barsanuphian : «Which is the nearest to thee of these bishops, and whom does thy soul receive?» He replied : «My religion and the religion of Abba Simon are one, and it is he whom my soul loves». Then |36 he turned lastly to the father, Abba Simon, the preacher of the truth, and said : «Which of these is the nearest to thee, and the one whom thy soul loves?» So he answered and proclaimed in the assembly in a loud voice, saying : «Not one of these is near to me, nor do I love one of them, but I excommunicate by writing and by word of mouth them and their vile doctrine and their fellowship; and those who favour them and those who communicate with them I contemn as Jews». Then the people cried with a great voice, saying : «Abba Simon confesses the truth without error». Thereupon those men were overwhelmed with shame.
After this there came a priest from the people of the Indians to Abba Simon, to ask of him that he would ordain for him a bishop for the Indians. Now the people of the Indians were not subjects of the Muslims. So the patriarch said to the Indian priest : «I cannot ordain a bishop for you without the command of the Amir, who is governor of the land of Egypt. Go to him, and make thy need known to him. Then, if he bids me, I will do for thee what thou requirest, and thou shalt return in peace to thy country with companions». So the priest went from the patriarch's house to go to the Amir. Then some of the Gaianites met him. and took him to Theodore, the chief of the Phantasiasts. and told Theodore the cause which had |37 brought the priest from his country. Therefore Theodore said to him : «I will do what thou needest for thee». Then Theodore took a man of Maryût, and ordained him bishop for him, and ordained two priests for him, and sent them away secretly to India. But after they had travelled twenty days, the guardians of the roads, who were employed by the Muslims, seized them, and sent them to the caliph, whose name was Abd al-Malik. The Indian priest, however, escaped, and returned to Egypt; but they brought the three others bound to Abd al-Malik. And when the caliph knew that they were of the land of Egypt, and from Maryût, and were travelling to a foreign country, he cut off their hands and feet, which he sent to Egypt, to Abd al-Azîz, to whom he wrote, reproaching him with incapacity, and saying : «It seems that thou knowest not what takes place in thine own country, namely that the patriarch of the Christians, who lives at Alexandria, has sent information of the affairs of Egypt to India. Now, when thou readest this letter, thou must inflict upon him two hundred stripes, and take from him one hundred thousand dinars, and send the money to us forthwith by the envoys who come to thee, without delay».
Now the patriarch, Abba Simon, was at that time at Hulwân, accompanied by a bishop. When the letters came to the Amir from his brother at the second hour of the night, he sent some Slavonians and summoned the holy Abba Simon, and his two spiritual sons, that is to say, his scribes. And |38 the Amir said to him : «Fear God, and take heed of thyself, and let no lie come forth from thy mouth with regard to that on which I shall question thee». So the patriarch answered : «I fear my God, and govern my soul in my conduct so that it may be saved by doing good at all times; and as for lies, not only to-day, but during my whole life I have despised them, for they come from Satan, the enemy of mankind. Thus I am ready either for death or life. With regard to the truth as far as I know it, I will tell it before God and thy authority». Then the governor's anger blazed less furiously, and he said to him : «Didst thou indeed appoint a man to the bishopric of the Indians?» So he answered and said to him : «There came to me a priest from, their country, and requested this thing of me, but I sent him away, telling him that, unless he would bring me an order from the Amir, I could not do this thing. Then I wrote for him to the secretaries, that they might inform thee of his business; and he left my house, when I was at Alexandria, and has not returned up to now». When the Amir heard these words, he imagined that the blessed one was afraid of death, and for that reason concealed the truth; so he said to him : «Woe to thee! Behold the hands and feet of thy friends, which the caliph has sent to me. And he commands also that I take from thee one hundred thousand dinars, after inflicting upon thee five hundred stripes. Thou hast concealed the truth, therefore I will destroy thee, and kill the bishops with the sword, |39 and pull down all the churches. Yet now this is my sure promise to thee. If thou wilt tell me the truth, I will pay the money instead of thee from my own treasury, and no harm shall befall thee from me. Now be honest with me».
Now this was at night. Then the holy man answered without fear and said to him : «It is the glory of the prince that he love justice, and the lips that are moved in hatred shall be despised. And now, as I think, if a voice came from heaven, bidding me deviate from the truth, I would say no otherwise. But thou wilt not believe me because of what is between us with regard to the coming of the letters to thee, concerning the people whose limbs were cut off, and the men by whom they were cut. Yet now they and the letters will bear witness to me and show the truth. So if I find grace before thee, write that the men may be sent to thee, that the truth of the matter may be known from them and from the letters which were found in their hands, and that they may tell you who sent them. Then if anything appears which contradicts my words, do what thou wilt». But the Amir answered and said to him ; «How shall they bring hither men whose hands and feet are cut off? thou think that there is any other patriarch of the Christians in the city of Alexandria besides thee? Why dost thou |40 dispute with me?» Then the holy man Simon answered and said to him : «I am pressed on every side. Thou dost not accept the truth from me, but thou desirest to force me to accuse myself of that which I have not done. Yet by the love of God in thy heart grant me a delay of seven days, and thou shalt know all that took place according to the truth». So he said to him : «Perchance thou desirest to flee or to kill thyself. But this monk, what is he in relation to thee?» The patriarch replied : «He is my son». The Amir enquired : «Hast thou confidence in him?» He answered : «Yea he is as my own life». So the Amir said to him : «As my brother did to the men who were taken while they were travelling to India, so I will do to thee if thou dost not tell me the truth». The holy man answered and said : «Behold, we are before thee with God, therefore do whatever thou wilt. For I have told thee already what took place with me». Then the Amir was silent for a time, and at length said : «I will grant thee a delay of three days. Therefore depart, and beware what thou doest, and perchance God will let know me the truth».
So he went out from his presence and prayed to God humbly with tears, and begged him to show the Amir his innocence of the charge which he laid against him in this matter. And at sunset on the second day his spiritual son, the monk, looked towards the river bank, and saw walking there that black Indian priest and monk, who had come to Abba Simon and asked |41 him to ordain a bishop for him, and who did not know anything of what had happened since then, because he had been a fugitive. So he went to that Indian, and grasped him and brought him to the holy patriarch, and said to him : «O my father, God has accepted thy prayer, and exposed the unjust treatment that we suffered». And he made known to the patriarch that he had taken the Indian priest, and he brought him in. And the Indian told Abba Simon what had taken place, and how Theodore the Gaianite had ordained for him a bishop and priests. So when the morning of the third day came, he took him to the Amir, guarding him and taking thought how to save him, and to save Theodore also from death. When the Amir saw him, he said to him : «Perchance thou wilt now tell the truth without lies». So the holy Simon answered him, after adoring God upon his face, and said : «The authority of men comes from the authority of God, and he who exercises authority in this world must be long-suffering, and willing like God most high to grant respites with generosity. Now I desire that thou give the promise of God to me and to those present with me in regard to this occurrence, that them wilt do them no harm, but wilt pardon them for God's sake; and then the truth shall be made known to thy lordship». So he gave him his hand that he would do him no evil. Accordingly he brought before Abd al-Azîz the Indian priest, who made known to him all that had |42 happened, and that Simon was innocent of this occurrence. When the Amir learnt this, he sent the Indian to prison, and commanded that Theodore should be taken and crucified. And he thanked the holy man, Simon the patriarch, and rejoiced over him, and acknowledged his honesty. He wrote also to Abd al-Malik, his brother, to inform him of what had happened and that the patriarch of the Christians in the city of Alexandria had nothing to do with this matter, but was innocent of it; and he praised him to the caliph, and recounted his goodness and uprightness and chastity. And Abd al-Azîz performed for Abba Simon what he had promised, by sparing for his sake Theodore and the Indian priest; for he had learnt that there was no deceit in him.
And after three years Abd al-Azîz dismissed the bishops to their sees, and commanded them to build two churches at Hulwân. And the bishops spent of their own means upon the building of them; and the governor deputed Gregory, bishop of Al-Kais, to superintend the building of them. Now the Amir loved building, and therefore he built Hulwân, and constructed reservoirs there; likewise at Misr he built houses and market-places and baths; and so he did in every town on the river from Misr to Alexandria. He commanded also to dig the canal of Alexandria on the north of the city near the pool of Nicetas; and he ordered that milestones should be set up along it as far as Alexandria. So also he did in the city itself, for he restored her streets after they were ruined. For he made use of men as |43 Pharao did in his time; and there are many things which he did, but which this biography has no room to relate, for fear of making it too long. Meanwhile this holy man Simon was striving all his life to prevent difficulties between the Christians and the Muslims, so that none might suffer loss through him. And through him the Lord used to show his wonders. He had an oeconomus whom he entrusted with the care of the diaconicon, and who was a priest, and in his charge was all that belonged to the church. And the patriarch used to exhort him at all times and say to him : «O priest Mennas, see that thou be not careless with regard to the church, in leaving in thy house a book or anything that belongs to it, for otherwise trouble will come upon thee». But Mennas was not pleased with these warnings. And the Lord gave this priest no child, as he smote the firstborn of Egypt in ancient times; yet though he thought of repentance he was not converted. Then God sent down upon him suddenly a disease through which his tongue clove to his palate, and his reason left him, and he used to bite his tongue while he was sleeping upon his bed. And three men took him on account of what he did to himself, and carried him to his house. And the Father Simon, the patriarch, was troubled about him and about the property of the church, because it was in his charge, and no one besides him knew the amount of it. So he remained awake, and prayed the Lord Jesus Christ to raise Mennas up from this sickness for the sake of the church. Then when midnight came, news was brought to the Father Patriarch that |44 the priest Mennas was near death. So he sent his son to him, and bade him ask his wife if he had said anything to her about the property of the church; but before the patriarch's messenger arrived at the house, there was heard the voice of one crying that the priest was dead. And when he expired, they dressed him in the priestly garments, and laid him on his bed, according to the custom of the Alexandrians, vested in his liturgical vestments. Therefore when the patriarch's son came to the house in which Mennas was laid out, with a great number of the clergy around him, because of his priestly office and his rank, the brother bent over him to kiss him. And the priest sat up and clasped his hands round his neck, and said : «God is the One, the God of the blessed Abba Simon». So when all those who were around him saw him, they fled in fear from that brother whom he had embraced. Thereupon he said to him : «Be confident and of good courage, and be patient, O priest Mennas». Then he answered and said to him : «Through the prayers of my Lord, the Father Patriarch Abba Simon, God has given me life a second time». Then the brother called the clergy and the rest of those who were in the town, and made known to them that the priest Mennas had spoken; and the priest Mennas said to them as they stood astonished and amazed : «Verily I died like all men who die, |45 and two shining men led me before the throne of Christ, the great and mighty King; and I saw the fathers and patriarchs in their ranks, beginning with the Father Isaac back to the Evangelist Saint Mark. And they reproved me saying : Why didst thou hide the property of the church and all that belongs to it from our successor Abba Simon? Then I was placed before Christ the King, and he said : Take him into outer darkness. And while they were dragging me away, the holy patriarchs prostrated themselves before the Lord Christ, saying with supplications : Have pity on our son, this servant, and release him this time, because he has not given an account of the property of the Church, and this our brother Simon is praying for him. Therefore Christ commanded that I should be brought back a second time, and he said to me : Thus thou diest and art worthy of death, but for the sake of our chosen one and vicar, Simon, I release thee this time. Yet if thou repentest not and takest not heed to thyself, thou shalt return hither, and I will accept no prayers on thy behalf». Then Mennas arose and stood upright, and he had recovered from his sickness. Afterwards he brought forth all the property of the church, and delivered it to the holy Father Abba Simon; and the Father Patriarch delivered it to his spiritual son. And Mennas remained with him to the time of his death in the fear of God. And all the people glorified God, the doer of wonders among his saints, on account of this great miracle.
Then the Father Patriarch, Abba Simon, chose spiritual men, brilliant |46 in their deeds, deeply learned in the scriptures and in wisdom and sciences, and ordained them bishops over every place. And the first of these sons of his was the Father Abba Zacharias, bishop of the city of Sakhâ; and he made Abba Ptolemy, the spiritual brother who was his brother in the monastic life, bishop over the see of Upper Manûf. And there are many others whose names are forgotten. These he ordained and distributed the dioceses among them that they might feed the reasonable sheep. And he remained patriarch nine years and a half. Then he fell ill on the day of Pentecost, and recognised that it was a mortal sickness. So he said to his son : «Let us travel to the holy valley, Wadî Habîb, that I may receive the blessing of the holy fathers and the monks; for I shall not see them again after this time in the body». So he went down from Hulwân, for he had gone thither from Alexandria for the sake of the bishops, until he had dismissed them to their dioceses. And he went down to Wadî Habîb, and received the blessing of the holy fathers, the monks; and then he went on to Alexandria. And he was removed by the incomprehensible decrees of God to the land of the living on the 24th of Abîb, which corresponds to the 18th of July according to the Roman months, in the year 416 of Diocletian, the unbelieving prince, the slayer of the Martyrs. And he bad his sons lay his body in the Monastery of Az-Zajâj, in the place where the body of his |47 father John was laid. Accordingly the monks of the monasteries assembled together at Henaton, until they had finished the prayers over him. And his body was lowered into his tomb with hymns of worship and praise to the Lord Christ, to whom glory and honour are due, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, the Giver of life, for ever and ever. Amen.
Here 12 ends the sixteenth chapter wherein the History of the Fathers is completed, as far as the life of Abba Simon, the forty-second patriarch. May God grant us the blessing of their prayers! Hereafter will follow that which we have translated from the documents in the Monastery of Saint Macarius, namely the history of ten patriarchs, from Michael 13 the Last to Sinuthius the First. We also translated in this monastery the lives of nine other patriarchs, in the year 796 of the Martyrs. This is written by Apacyrus, the deacon, and Michael, son of Apater, of Damanhur. Through the grace of God, which enabled us to find the histories in the Monastery of Saint Macarius, with the help of the brother Theodore, the steward, son of Paul, on Sunday the 6th of Ba'ûnah, in the year 797 of the Righteous Martyrs. We have compared the manuscripts with one another, and found them |48 corresponding to what we copied; and so we assured ourselves of their authenticity.
ALEXANDER II, THE FORTY-THIRD PATRIARCH. A. D. 705-730.
We must now record the events which took place after the death of the glorious, venerable, and blessed father, the good shepherd Abba Simon, who heard from the Lord Jesus Christ the words : «14 O thou faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over little, I will set thee over much. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord». When his death was made known to the Amir Abd al-Azîz and to the scribes at Misr, these latter were afflicted with grief and sadness because all the Christians had lost their shepherd, at a time of difficulty and trials, caused by the civil governors. But the Lord Christ did not cease to govern the Church. And Athanasius, the believer, was president of the Divân; and he protected the interests of the churches. On this occasion he and the scribes went to the Amir with one consent, and said to him : «The property of the Church at Alexandria obliges her to pay |49 a heavy tax. Therefore we pray thee to despatch the bishop Gregory to Alexandria, to watch over the possessions of the Church and everything connected with it. So may God lengthen thy life, O Amir!» Then Abd al-Azîz consented to what Athanasius asked for, and despatched Gregory, bishop of Al-Kais, to Alexandria, and gave him authority over the property of the churches and the establishment of the patriarch, with free power of administration; and accordingly he wrote a decree for him to that effect. So Gregory took the decree and departed. And they began to take thought as to whom they should promote to be patriarch, in accordance with their desire for a man known for wisdom and learning. So they waited three years in this state, until it was the Lord's will; and at length the heart of the civil governors was well disposed in this matter, after much supplication. Then by the will of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, who knows whom he will choose from among the pure and chaste and clean of heart, they brought forward the priest Alexander from the Monastery of Az-Zajâj. He was a monk, a virgin, humble, without defect, learned in the Scriptures from ins youth. And they brought Alexander to the Amir, who saw the grace in his face, and so allowed them by the will of God to promote him to the patriarchal office. |50
So the orthodox laity agreed together, in the presence of an assemblage of bishops and priests and the secretaries of the divan. Then the Father Alexander was consecrated patriarch on the festival of the holy Saint Mark, namely the last day of Barmudah, in the year 420 of Diocletian. And the land of Egypt rejoiced greatly, and especially the orthodox, because the Church had been left in solitude three years, and they were therein like orphans. And the Lord was with the Father Alexander, making all his affairs easy, on account of his humility and chastity and trust in the Lord alone as his ruler. Then when a short time had passed, during which he remained in peace, Satan stirred up strife against the bishops, as we will relate.
Abd al-Azîz, the governor of Egypt, had a son, the eldest of his sons, called Al-Asbagh, and he thought that he would sit in the seat of government in his father's room when he died. So he made him ruler over the whole country as wâli and receiver of the revenue, and all ranks obeyed him with fear, because he was the Amir's son, and because of the authority which he had given him. Now Al-Asbagh was a hater of the Christians, a shedder of blood, a wicked man, like a fierce lion. At that time a deacon, |51 named Benjamin, became attached to him and grew intimate with him; and Al-Asbagh loved him more than all his companions. And he treacherously revealed to Al-Asbagh the secrets of the Christians, and even expounded the Gospel to him in Arabic as well as the books of alchemy. For Al-Asbagh sought out books that they might be read to him, and so for instance he read the Festal Epistles, in order that he might see whether the Muslims were insulted therein or not. And he did not shrink from any cruelly that he could inflict upon the Christians. For as the damned heretics were in the habit of calumniating the Christian monks and saving that they did nothing but eat and drink, he sent one of his trusted friends, named Yezîd, accompanied by another, and mutilated all the monks in all the provinces and in Wadî Habîb and on Mount Jarâd and in other places. And he laid a poll-tax upon them of one dinar from each individual, and commanded that they should make no more monks after those whom he mutilated. Now this tax of the infidel Al-Asbagh was the first poll-tax paid by the monks.
After this, Al-Asbagh compelled the bishops of the provinces to furnish a sum of two thousand dinars besides the taxes on their lands, and this sum they paid every year. And he acted proudly, and compelled the people to pray as he bade them. And Benjamin, the monk and deacon, was a |52 worse enemy to the Christians than any other, and excited his friend to every kind of persecution. So he forced many persons to become Muslims, among them being Peter, governor of Upper Egypt, and his brother Theodore, and the son of Theophanes, governor of Maryût, and a body of priests and laymen not to be numbered on account of their multitude. But the Lord Jesus Christ did not long respite Al-Asbagh, and in a short time hurried him out of the world, because he hated the Christian people. This took place as follows. On the Saturday of Light he entered into the Monastery of Hulwân, and looked at the pictures being carried in procession according to the rule. And there was a picture of our Pure Lady Mary and of the Lord Christ in her lap; so when he looked at it and considered it, he said to the bishops and to several people who were with him : «Who is represented in this picture?» They answered : «This is Mary, the mother of Christ». Then he was moved with hatred against her, and filled his mouth with saliva, and spat in her face, saying : «If I find an opportunity, I will root out the Christians from this land. Who is Christ that you worship him as a God?» And that night God sent down vengeance upon him. For in the morning he came to his father, and found him sitting, surrounded by a body of Muslims and Christians. And the day was Easter Sunday. So Al-Asbagh sat down and said to his father; «O my Lord, the devils have chastised me this night». His father said to him : «How, |53 my son?» He replied : «I looked, and there was One sitting on a great throne, exceedingly awful and terrible; and his face shone with light brighter than the rays of the sun; and round him were thousands and tens of thousands bearing weapons, and their garments were white as snow; and I and thou stood behind him, bound with iron chains. And I asked one in a low voice : Who is this who has taken the government of the land of Egypt from my father? He said to me : Hast thou not known him till now? So I asked him in the dream : And who is he? Then he answered and said : This is Jesus Christ, the King of the Christians, who is more glorious and higher than all the kings of the earth. This is he whom thou didst mock, and in whose face thou didst spit. He shows thee thy weakness in this dream, thou wretched one, together with thy father; and he shows thee his glory and majesty». And while he was saying this to me, behold, one of those bearing weapons came to me, I being naked, and he struck me with a spear in my side, and did not take it out again until I had given up my spirit to them; and they were the devils who mocked me». When his father heard this tale he was very sad. And the young man was immediately seized with a violent fever, and was carried away forthwith; and they laid him upon his bed, and he did not open his mouth after that, nor did he eat or drink. So at the second hour of the night he died. And he was buried; and none could comfort his father because of him. And |54 after forty days his father also died, according to the dream which his unbelieving son had seen.
When these things had happened, Athanasius, the believer and lover of Christ, went with his sons to the sovereign prince Abd al-Malik at Damascus. But Abd al-Malik arrested Athanasius there, and called him to account, and took from him all the gains that he had acquired in Egypt since the collection of the taxes had been left to him. Then the prince sent one of his sons, named Abd Allah, to govern the land of Egypt; and when he came to Egypt, he also did evil deeds; and all the officials feared him on account of the deeds to which Satan tempted him. For he made instruments with which to torture the people, and was like a fierce wild beast; so that often when he sat at table men were put to death in his presence, and perchance their blood spurted out into the dish from which he was eating, and he took pleasure in that. In those days the blessed Alexander went forth, and travelled to Misr to salute Abd Allah, according to the custom among patriarchs and governors. But when Abd Allah saw him, he said : «What is this man?» They replied : «This is the father and patriarch of all the Christians». So he took him, and gave him over to one of his chamberlains, to whom he said : «Humiliate him in whatever way thou wilt, until he shall pay three thousand dinars». So he took him, and he remained with him three days. And the Christians continued to petition |55 the governor that he would remit part of what he had said, but he would not. And all the people in the country were in great distress on this account; and great fear fell upon the bishops and monks on account of the money which he tried to extort from the patriarch. So when George the deacon, a native of Dimru, saw this, that Abd Allah would not set the patriarch free until he had received the money, he went to him and said to him : «O our Lord, dost thou desire the life of the patriarch or money?» He answered : «I wish for the money». So the deacon George said to him : «Trust me with him for the space of two months, that I may go down with him to the North, to beg for him from the officials and Christians, and I will pay thee for him three thousand dinars». So the governor gave the patriarch up to him, and he went round the cities and villages with him, and visited those who believed in Christ, until he had collected the money and brought it to Misr. And he used to assemble to himself the bishops and principal men and monks, and then mock them, and speak proudly with hard words, saying to them : «You are to me like the Romans, and if a man slays one of you, God will pardon him, because you are the enemies of God». And when he received from the people the taxes which they were accustomed to pay, he demanded the double amount from them, requiring a dinar and two thirds from those who were bound to pay one dinar, so that many churches were ruined for that cause; for he loved money greatly. |56
Then Abd Allah commanded that of the youths of his country all those should be gathered together that were twenty years old or under. So they went and assembled together; and the leaders whom he appointed were two men, friends of his, named Asim and Yazîd, and with them a body of officials; and they brought down great trials upon the people, and many were killed on this account. And they branded the strangers whom they found, on their hands and foreheads, and sent them to places which they did not know. Thus there was trouble and confusion in the land. The governor also gave orders that no dead man should be buried until they had paid the poll-tax for him; and he appointed a man named Muhammad over this business, so that even the indigent, who could not buy bread, were not buried when they died, except by his command. How great then were the sadness and misery and sighing in the provinces of Lower and Upper Egypt on account of the deeds of these men, until the Lord took vengeance suddenly on Abd Allah, after he had continued for two years to do such deeds! For the Lord took away the life of his father, Abd al-Malik, whose eldest son, named Al-Walîd, became ruler in his stead. When Al-Walîd took his seat on the throne of the empire, he began to remove the provincial governors, and to nominate others from among his friends. So he appointed as governor of Egypt one named Kurrah. But that infidel Abd Allah did not know of this change; and while he was sitting in his |57 official residence, the governor appointed to replace him arrived unexpectedly, and took his seat in his place. Thus great ignominy and shame came to him on this account.
And Kurrah brought down great trials upon the friends of Abd Allah, both Christians and Muslims, and cast them into prisons where they remained for a year. And there was in his days a man of the orthodox faith, named John, a native of Damirah, who had authority to command or forbid. But Kurrah caused trials among the churches and the monks, as shall be described.
Meanwhile the Roman monarchy was like a game for children. For when the Romans had deposed Justinian the prince, they made Leo their ruler in his place. But Leo was put to death before he had completed the third year of his reign; and after him reigned Apsimarus, who put many patricians to death at Constantinople; and he also killed the patriarch. When Apsimarus came to the throne, he released many captives from his country, and they returned to their own homes; and he provided each one with three dinars for the expenses of the journey. After him reigned Philippicus. Then after two years Anastasius was made prince of the Romans, and is still reigning. (N. B. By 15 saying «still» the writer means at the time of composing the history.)
Now the president of the divan of Alexandria in those days was |58 Theodore; and there was great hostility between him and the Father Patriarch, Alexander. For when Kurrah came to Misr, the Father Patriarch went according to the custom to congratulate him on becoming governor, and to salute him. But Kurrah arrested him on his arrival, and said to him : «Thou must pay me a sum equal to that which Abd Allah, son of Abd al-Malik, took from thee». The Father Patriarch said to him : «Our Law bids us not to lay up treasure and not to multiply gold or silver, but that we spend something day by day on account of what we need for daily use and for the poor and the needy. Abd Allah acted as he did towards me only through the calumnies of evil men, because of which he treated me unjustly and exacted three thousand dinars from me. But he found none of that money in my possession, so that he sent me out into the country like a beggar asking alms, until God gave me what I needed; and even now I owe five hundred dinars. So whence shall I get anything?» Then the Amir said to him : «Wilt thou swear to me then that thou hast no gold?» The patriarch answered : «God has commanded us not to swear at all. Believe me therefore now that the taxes on my property which must be paid are beyond my means, and God knows that I have no gold». Then the Amir said : «These words will not avail. If thou must sell thine own flesh, thou must pay me three thousand dinars, and if not, thou shalt not escape from my hand». So when he saw that he could not escape from him, he begged him |59 to let him travel to Upper Egypt, and whatever God allowed him to collect by the alms of the people he would send it to him. Then Kurrah released him, and he went up to Upper Egypt, and went round the cities and villages, and begged. And the Lord Jesus Christ healed many sick persons by his prayers, and every one rejoiced in him, saying : «Since the time of the Father Benjamin we have not seen a patriarch in Upper Egypt until this father». But he suffered fatigue and trouble and the miseries of travel, and at last Satan, who hates the good, did this thing of which an account follows. There was a hermit, named Petubastes, who dwelt on a rock with two monks, his sons. One day their father, the hermit, bade them clean out for him a place away from the rock; and while they were clearing it and digging, they found five brazen pots full of money in Roman coin. So they hid one of the pots, and showed the other four to the hermit. So the old man said to them in his simplicity : «Is this all that you found?» And when they said that it was all, he was glad at that. Then he said to them : «The Lord has disposed this money for the Father Patriarch, because he is required to pay what he does not possess». Afterwards he sent to the patriarch's steward, whose name was George the monk, and to his scribe, and summoned them both, and delivered to them the four pots, and said to them ; «Take these and give them to the governor for the father Alexander, the patriarch ». So they took the pots and went |60 away and buried them dishonestly. And the Father Patriarch was absent collecting money in Upper Egypt. So the monks, the sons of the hermit, took the pot of money, and divided it between themselves, and began to act impiously; for they abandoned the monastic life, and bought fine raiment and maidservants. So the governor of the town and the clerk seized one of them and said to him : «Whence hast thou this money?» And when he was chastised, and the stripes caused him anguish, he said to them : «Promise me that you will do me no hurt, and I will make everything known to you». So they promised him, and he informed them of the affair of the five pots, and that he and his comrade had taken one of them, and that the other four pots were in the possession of the patriarch's steward and scribe. Then they at once informed Kurrah of this, and he commanded that the patriarchal residence should be shut, and all the vessels and gold and silver and books and cattle in it seized. And he brought down great trials upon the friends of the patriarch, and took the four pots of money, besides the vessels of the church and the goods found in the patriarchal residence, and he sent to Upper Egypt, and summoned the patriarch, and was minded to slay him because he had sworn that there was no gold in his possession. And when he took from them the four pots, all the friends of the patriarch fled like the apostles at that time. Then when they brought the patriarch before Kurrah. he gnashed his teeth upon him and wished to slay him, but the Lord restrained him; so he |61 loaded him with iron fetters, and cast him into prison, where he remained seven days. Then after that he compelled him to pay the three thousand dinars, and great trouble and distress came upon him, until one thousand dinars were paid to him after two years; and many trials came to the holy father, but he endured them patiently. Afterwards wicked people went and accused him falsely of having men in his house, who coined dinars, and alleged that he possessed a die for stamping coin. And while he was sitting at the ninth hour of the day, on a certain day, breaking his fast, and ignorant of what was to happen, before he knew anything, they had surrounded the patriarchal residence, and the people of the city of Alexandria with the town-clerk, by command of Kurrah, had seized the patriarch and his companions; and they threw him to the ground, and beat his companions, who were tortured till their blood flowed on the ground, and they almost died by the torture; and after all they found what they had accused him of to be false. And they did not cease from these persecutions till the second day of Amshir, in the year 430 of Diocletian.
Then after these persecutions which the father suffered, the people and clergy of Alexandria rose against him, and demanded that he should pay them some of the dues and church-rates on the third day of the Feast of Easter, but he had nothing to give them. And he said to them : «O brethren, you have seen how we have been robbed of all the property of |62 the church, even of the cups in which the Pure Blood is offered; so that we have been forced to make chalices of glass and patens of wood instead of the gold and silver vessels, because Kurrah has robbed us of them». But they reviled him with many hard words, while he patiently endured their abuse, and prayed to the Lord Christ, the chief shepherd, that he would receive his people from him and grant them salvation.
And the Lord Jesus Christ did in his days wonderful things, because he cares for the salvation of each one among men. For there was a man named John, an official, to whom God gave favour with the governors. So he went to Kurrah and said to him : «It is right that thou shouldst know that the taxes weigh heavily upon the monks and bishops in every place. Here then is an easy matter, for some of them are rich; while others have not the means of nourishment; and we know the state of all the Christians; if therefore thou thinkest fit to set me over their affairs, I will collect the taxes». So he set him over the bishops and monks. And when Kurrah gave him authority, he said to him : «There are among them some who do not believe in the faith of the Coptic Christians, and yet will not pray with the Muslims. What then thinkest thou that I should do to them?» The governor answered : «Do to them according to the law of the Christians, and take a double poll-tax from them». Accordingly John went out from before him, by the dispensation of God, and went first to the |63 diocese of Sa, which was his own diocese, where there were certain heretics, Gaianites and Schematics, living without the blessing of God. He therefore put a stop to their foul heresy, and baptized them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, enlightening them with the illumination of baptism; and their souls were filled with joy. Then John went to Al-Munâ, where the bishop of the diocese was Abba Hor, and baptized the monks there, after they had abjured their heresy; and thus the Gaianites and the Barsanuphians, who were there, were led by him into communion with the orthodox. When he left that place, he journeyed to Wadî Habîb, where also the heresy of the Gaianites had existed during a hundred and seventy years, from the time of the schism caused by Julian; and he brought them also back to the orthodox faith. Thus he united all the churches in one body by the grace of the Lord Christ who helped him; not only these, but those in every place in which he found roots of bitterness, that is to say, foul heresies among the monks or others. For in the city of Banâ and Busir and Samannûd and the neighbourhood, and at Rosetta and Damietta, the Lord rooted out their false principles and cast them away; and he united the whole land of Egypt in one faith with true agreement, and brought all the foul heresies to nought. |64
And the Amir Kurrah was a great lover of money; and whenever an official died, he seized all his goods. Thus on the death of the chief of the Divân of Alexandria, and of Apacyrus of Tinnis, who was a clerk, and of an innumerable multitude of officials at Misr, he confiscated their property; and he even took away the endowments of the bishops. By these means he added a hundred thousand dinars to the established revenue of the country. And men began to flee from place to place with their wives and children, but no place would harbour them because of the troubles and the exaction of taxes; and his tyranny was greater than that of any of his predecessors.
Then Kurrah appointed a man, named Abd al-Azîz, of the city of Sakhâ, who collected the fugitives from every place, and brought them back and bound them and punished them, and sent everyone to his own place; and the people endured heavy trials. After this, God sent a great plague upon Egypt, and the number of those who died daily was not known ; but the majority of those who died were Muslims. At last the plague entered the house of Kurrah, and his wives and his pages died; and he fled from place to place in fear of death, until he finished the term allotted to him, and then died suddenly a painful death.
Now Julian had been patriarch of Antioch, and had charge of the church from the days of John, patriarch of Alexandria, to the days of the Father Alexander; but he had gone to his rest, and departed to eternal |65 happiness. So the bishops of the East assembled in order to appoint his successor; but their prince, whose name was Al-Walîd, would not allow them to do this. For he said : «I will not permit a patriarch to be appointed in my days». And the bishops were sad because of this; and therefore they took a God-fearing bishop, filled with the grace of the Holy Ghost, named Elias, and seated him upon the throne in the church of Antioch. And he wrote a synodical letter according to the law of the ancient canons, and despatched it by a bishop, named Stephen, to the Father Patriarch Alexander, because of the agreement between the two prelates. But the holy Alexander was visiting various places, so the bishop found him in Wadî Habîb, and delivered to him the synodical letter from the bishop Abba Elias, whom they had seated on the throne of Antioch. And Alexander found the letter in accordance with the orthodox faith, and. therefore he accepted it with joy, and summoned the chief men of the provinces, and made known to them what had happened in the East, and how the prince had forbidden the faithful to appoint a patriarch, but that the bishops had given the late patriarch a successor, so that he might consecrate the bishops until the season of wrath should cease. And a similar occurrence had happened in the time of Gregory Theologus and our Father Theophilus with the Arians and Acacians, and the distress lasted until they called the aforesaid Gregory to Constantinople, and the church was delivered |66 to him. Therefore the bishops of Egypt and the patriarch were consoled, and he wrote an answer to the synodical letter, and gave it to Stephen and his companions; and Stephen departed in peace to his own country. And when Theodore undertook the government of Alexandria in the reign of Al-Walîd and in the days of the Father Alexander, there was there a physician, a native of the city, named Onopes, which means Ass's face. When this man gained influence, he begged the Amir to command Theodore to appoint him patriarch of Alexandria; and he was a Roman, and a blasphemous Chalcedonian. The Amir accepted his petition; and a certain clerk named Anastasius, a native of Alexandria, gave to the Amir a thousand dinars, and so induced him to establish this false Chalcedonian patriarch in the city of Alexandria. And he opposed the right faith and derided Abba Alexander, especially when he was enduring trials at that time. After that the people wished to depose the Chalcedonian, and rose against him; so he fled, and went to the Father Alexander, and prayed him humbly, and begged to be excused for what he had endured through him, and requested him to receive him into the orthodox faith. Therefore Alexander received him with Christian charity, and obeyed the |67 commandments of God, who says 16 : «If thou seest the ass of thine enemy lying under his burden, turn not from him until thou hast raised him up». And he did not cease to hold the orthodox faith.
Then there arose trials in the Church, and a wicked edict was issued that the coloured pillars and the marble which were in the churches should be taken away, and they were all carried off. And the Father Patriarch was sad for the sake of his church, because it became a ruin through that which was done with him. But in spite of this he gave thanks to God, and was bravely patient.
At that time two serious disasters happened, in the year 431 of Diocletian, in the 13th year of the Indiction, on account of our sins and our evil deeds. For after the death of Kurrah, Al-Walîd sent to Egypt as his successor a governor named Usâmah. This man, when he arrived at Al-Fustât, demanded a description of the boundaries of all the provinces, and wrote it down in Arabic; and he was a man of great intelligence. Then, when he had begun this, there came a great dearth, the like of which had not been heard of since the earliest ages; and more died in that dearth than had died in the plague, for all the rich and the poor were threatened with death. Afterwards a great abundance came, till wheat sank to twenty-five ardebbs for one dinar. But after a short time the plague returned, and destroyed the people; and |68 if the Lord had not taken pity on those that remained of them on the earth, not one would have survived.
And the Amir continued to do evil, while all the Muslims and Christians feared him. For he commanded that no one should lodge a stranger in the churches or at inns or on the wharfs, and the people were afraid of him and drove out the strangers that were in their houses. And he commanded the monks not to make monks of those who came to them. Then he mutilated the monks, and branded each one of them on his left hand, with a branding iron in the form of a ring, that he might be known; adding the name of his church and his monastery, without a cross, and with the date according to the era of Islam. Thus there was, in the year 96 of the Hegira, trouble among the monks, and oppression of the faithful. If they discovered a fugitive or one that had not been marked, they brought him to the Amir, who ordered that one of his limbs should be cut off, so that he was lame for life; and the number could not be counted of those whom he maimed for this cause. And he shaved off the beards of many, and slew a great multitude, and put out the eyes of many without mercy, and killed many under punishment with scourges. And out of love for money he commanded the governors to put the people to death, and bring him their money; and he wrote to them, saying: «I have delivered up to you the lives of the people, therefore collect all the wealth that you can, from bishops or monks or churches or any of the |69 people, and bring stuffs and money and cattle and all that you find belonging to them, and respect no one. And whatever place you visit, pillage it». Accordingly the officials laid the country waste, and carried off the columns and the woodwork, and sold what was worth ten dinars for one dinar, until silver sank to thirty-five dirhems for a dinar, and wheat to forty ardebbs for a dinar, and wine to forty wineskins for a dinar, and oil to a hundred kists for a dinar. And everyone who possessed anything was afraid to show it, lest he should be put to the torture; and through anguish and distress men were minded to sell their own children. Yet when the Amir was informed of these things, his heart was not softened, and he had no mercy, but increased in his wickedness. For he wrote and said : «Wherever a man is found walking, or passing from one place to another, or disembarking from a boat, or embarking, without a passport, he shall be arrested, and the contents of the boat confiscated, and the boat burnt». And if any Romans were found on the river, they were brought to him; and some of them he slew, and others he impaled, and the hands and feet of some he cut off. At last the roads were made impassable, and no man could travel or sell or buy. The fruits of the vineyards were wasted, and there was no one to buy them for a single dirhem, because their owners remained within their houses for two months, awaiting the passport to release them thence. If a mouse ate a man's passport, or if it were injured by water or fire or any accident, whether part |70 or the whole of it remained to his possession, if its lettering were damaged, it could not be changed for a new one until he paid five dinars as a fee for it, and then it could be changed for him.
Now there was a poor widow who received a passport for her son, who was her only one and fatherless, and to whose labour she trusted for her sustenance. So she departed from Alexandria to go to Aghrawah. But when the young man went out to the river to drink water, a crocodile devoured him with the passport which was fastened to him. And his mother wept and mourned for him, and then returned to Alexandria, where she informed the unbelieving Amir of what had happened to her; but he had no pity on her, and kept her prisoner until she paid ten dinars for the passport, because she had entered the city without a passport. And she sold her garments and all that she had, and went about begging, until she had paid the ten dinars. And Satan, whom the Amir resembled in heart, suggested evil to him all day long. After this he sent his officers to inquire into the state of the monasteries, and found there many monks who had no mark of a ring on their hands; so some of them were beheaded, and some died under the lash. Then he nailed up the door of their church with iron nails, and demanded of them a thousand dinars, and assembled the superiors of the monks, and tortured them, and required a dinar from each one of them, And he said : |71 «If you do not pay this, I will destroy the churches, and turn them into ruins, and make you serve on board the ships of the fleet». So the seniors of the monks were troubled; and they longed for death, and knew not what to do, and could only assemble in the churches, and pray, and humbly entreat the Lord Christ in grief and sadness that he would have pity on them. At last the gracious and merciful God heard their supplication, and delivered them suddenly; for Sulaiman, son of Abd al-Malik, who was at that time the sovereign prince, died and was succeeded by Omar, son of Abd al-Azîz who had been governor of Egypt. And by the will of the merciful God, Omar at once sent a governor to Egypt, who fastened a mass of iron to the feet of Usâmah, the evil one, and a block of wood to his hands, and put him in prison; and he was kept in darkness until he should make up his mind concerning him. Then he took him, and brought him out from Alexandria to Misr. But God took away his life on the way in a grievous and painful manner, as he deserved.
Yet this Omar, son of Abd al-Azîz, though he did much good before men, acted ill before God. He commanded that there should be no taxes upon the property of the church and the bishops, and began to set the churches and bishops free from the impost on land; and he abolished the new taxes, and rebuilt the ruined cities; and the Christians were in security and prosperity, |72 and so were the churches. But after that be began to do evil; for he wrote a letter charged with sadness to Egypt, in which were written the following words : «Omar commands saying, Those who wish to remain as they are, and in their own country, must follow the religion of Muhammad as I do; but let those who do not wish to do so, go forth from my dominions». Then the Christians gave him all the money that they could, and trusted in God, and rendered service to the Muslims, and became an example to many. For the Christians were oppressed by the governors and the local authorities and the Muslims in every place, the old and the young, the rich and the poor among them; and Omar commanded that the poll-tax should be taken from all men who would not become Muslims, even in cases where it was not customary to take it. But God did not long respite him, but destroyed him swiftly, and granted him the government no longer, because he was like Antichrist.
Then Yezîd reigned after him; but we have no wish to relate nor describe what happened in his days, on account of the miseries and trials; for he walked in the path of Satan, and deviated from the paths of God. As soon as he undertook the government, he restored the taxes of which Omar had relieved the churches and bishops for one year; and he required great sums of money from the people, so that everyone was distressed in his dominions. And he was not satisfied with this only, but he even issued orders that the crosses should be broken in every place, and that the pictures |73 which were in the churches should he removed. For he commanded this, but the Lord Christ destroyed him for this reason, and took his soul, after he had endured before his death many sufferings. And the time during which he reigned was two years and four months.
And after him reigned Hishâm his brother, who was a God-fearing man according to the method of Islam, and loved all men; and he became the deliverer of the orthodox. For when he learnt that we Christians had had no patriarch in the East since Julian, the late patriarch of Antioch, in whose stead the bishop Elias had taken his seat, and that Elias also had died, he took a man named Athanasius, full of every spiritual grace, who also was a bishop, and gave him the patriarchate of Antioch. So the bishops laid their hands upon him in turn, and made him patriarch. This Athanasius wrote a synodical letter with learning and great humility to the blessed Father Patriarch Alexander, saying : «Verily I am unworthy of this degree on account of my sins; yet I have not been promoted by my own will, but by that of the prince». For he had known him before this time. So Alexander received the letter with joy, and then wrote an answer to it, asserting the unity of the faith, and containing good wishes and salutations. At the end he wrote thus : «We bless the prince Hishâm, and pray that he may enjoy |74 a reign of many years, and overcome his enemies, so that he may do that which is right before the Lord». And he dismissed the envoys in peace.
After this, Hishâm wrote to Egypt, commanding that a receipt in his name should be given to everyone who paid the taxes, so that none might be unfairly treated, and that there might be no injustice in his dominions. So God gave him a prosperous reign, and he continued to rule for twenty-two years; and no war continued against him, but everyone that rose up against him was delivered by God into his hands, through the prayers of the two glorious patriarchs, Alexander at Alexandria and Athanasius at Antioch. Now the orthodox church at Damascus was adjoining the palace in which Hishâm resided. Then he commanded that the patriarch should build his house next to the prince's reception-hall, because of his great love for him, so that he might hear him pray and read. For he often used to say to him : «When thou beginnest to pray at night I receive great comfort, and I cease to trouble about the affairs of the empire, and then sleep comes to me restfully». And Hishâm loved Athanasius greatly for that reason; and he gave great gifts to the churches and the Christians. And there was at his court a Muslim who greatly loved the orthodox churches, and he was named Ubaid Allah. And when the prince Hishâm saw him act so, he rejoiced greatly, and made him governor of Egypt, and commanded him to act with kindness towards all baptised Christians. When Ubaid Allah came to Egypt, he commanded that the people and the cattle should be numbered, |75 and the lands and vineyards measured with measuring lines, and accordingly this was done; also that a leaden badge should be placed on the neck of every man, from the youth of twenty to those who were a hundred years old; and he had them numbered, and wrote down the names of all of them, and the number of their beasts, young and old, and an account of the bad lands, difficult of cultivation, which produce coarse grass and thorns. And he set up milestones in the midst of the enclosed lands, at the boundaries and on the roads, throughout the land of Egypt; and he doubled the taxes.
So after Ubaid Allah had accomplished all that we have related, and had committed much injustice which we have not related, when he came to Al-Fustât, he went to the city of Memphis and remained there four months. And he commanded that the chief men of the towns should assemble at Memphis. And he had the mark of a lion put on the hands of the Christians, according to the words of the Book, which John the Son of Thunder uttered, saying 17 : «None shall sell or buy except those upon whose hand is the mark of the lion». Then, when he had accomplished this, he wrote to the provinces of Egypt, saying thus : «If anyone is found in any place without the mark on his hand, his hand shall be cut off, and he shall be heavily fined, because he has disobeyed the commands of the prince and acted rebelliously towards him». Now he had two sons, one of whom he |76 despatched to the South, and the other to the North, and there was great distress and perturbation in all the land of Egypt. Then Ubaid Allah arrived at Al-Gizah, and built a large house for himself there; and he wrote to the provinces of Egypt, commanding that a body of men should be collected for him, that he might set them to work as long as he wished. And he built at Al-Fustât, until the men perished through fatigue from the great labours which he imposed upon then. In consequence of these things, when the forced labours and the payment of the taxes which he had doubled became grievous, war broke out between the Christians and Muslims, so that much blood was shed in the land of Egypt between the two factions, first of all in the city of Banâ and the city of Sa and the city of Samannûd and their neighbourhood, and in many places in Lower Egypt; and there was likewise fighting on the roads and mountains and by the canals; but if we were to relate the history of it the account would be too long. When the governor of Alexandria entered that city to mark the people, he seized the patriarch in order to brand him, but he refused to be so treated. Yet the governor would not release him, and, though the patriarch requested to be allowed to go to the prince, would not consent to that. Then after a time he sent the patriarch to Misr, with a troop of soldiers who were to bring him to Ubaid Allah; and accordingly, when he appeared before him, he made known to him the cause of his arrival. But Ubaid Allah would not let him go without branding him. Therefore when the Father Patriarch Alexander saw that he |77 could not escape, he said to Ubaid Allah, the Amir : «I pray thee to grant me a delay of three days». So he consented to this, and granted him the respite. Then the patriarch entered his private chamber, and prayed the Lord not to suffer him to be branded, but to remove him from this world speedily; and when God saw the thoughts of his servant that they were good, he visited him; and accordingly he fell sick on the third day, and the sickness increased each day upon him. When he knew that the Lord Christ had heard him and received his prayer, he sent trustworthy persons and certain chiefs of the orthodox, his children, to Ubaid Allah, to beg him to release him, that he might depart to his see before his death. But he would not allow him, suspecting that this was a ruse, and that he was not sick. So when four days had passed, the father said to the brethren : «Prepare the boat at sunset that we may depart, for to-morrow the Lord Jesus Christ will visit me». Accordingly they departed; but not one of the bishops was with him, except Abba Shamul, bishop of Wasîm. Then when they had descended the river in their flight, they reached Tarnût by the morning; and at that hour the blessed Alexander went to his rest at that place. When Ubaid Allah learnt that the patriarch had escaped without |78 leave, he despatched an officer to bring him back with his companions; but when he came up with them and took them into custody to bring them back in wrath, he found that the Father had gone to his rest. So he left him alone, but seized Abba Shamul, and conducted him to Ubaid Allah, who said : «The truth is that thou didst induce him to flee, therefore thou must pay a thousand dinars to the government treasury». But Abba Shamul was poor, in want of sustenance from day to day, and went thinly clad; and he was sweet of countenance and virtuous in conduct; and he used to exhort sinners, and they listened to him; and likewise he confirmed those who were weak in the orthodox faith. So he swore to the Amir that he could not pay a single dinar, and did not possess one; but he would not accept this excuse, and gave him up to two officers of police. Then when those two Muslims, whose names we will not record, had taken him, they gave him up to some Berbers, like lions in their actions, who hauled and dragged him away through the midst of Misr, until they brought him to the door of the church of Saint George, trailing him along. And there was there a great crowd assembled of sellers and buyers; and many began to run after him through Misr. And they demanded a thousand dinars of him in spite of the exiguity of his possessions; and they began to torture him that day without mercy, and stripped him of his garment, and clothed him in a hair-cloth, and hung him up by his arms, thinly clad as he was, while all the people looked on, and scourged him with whips of |79 cowhide until his blood ran on the ground. And the multitude beheld him and what befell him at the hands of the police ; but they continued for a week to torture him in this way until the people collected for him three hundred dinars. But when there came down some of the friends of Ubaid Allah to interview him, while the chiefs of the Christians said to them : «He is near death, and he is guiltless of any fault in this matter according to what we know», then upon that they released him after severe torments, for he was near death.
Thus when the Father Alexander, a saint indeed, went to his rest in a good old age, great sadness fell upon the Christians because of his death. For he had remained for twenty-four years and a half upon the throne. And there were during the days of his life certain very holy men in the land of Egypt, in the deserts and monasteries, who wearied themselves in the service of God, and by whom wonders and signs were manifested. For there was a man, who was a priest and at the same time a fisherman, in the province of Isnâ, who laboured with the nets, while he followed the rule of the monastic life. And after a long time he departed and built a monastery on the mountain, and many became monks with him there; and they lived in virtue and poverty. And the fame of that old man went forth through the outer country; and his name was Matthew, and he was a native of Asfant. So God manifested by his means many wonders among the sick and the |80 lepers; and he healed those in whom were unclean spirits, and raised the dead in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And after some days a great miracle took place in his presence. There was a Copt at Asfant, who had two sons and one daughter, all of whom he kept in his house; and they were pure virgins, serving God. But Satan led the three astray by a vile deed, namely that he entered into the elder of the sons, and said to him : «Since thy father will not give thee a wife, go in to thy sister, and sleep with her, for she will be sufficient for thee for a time». And he made this deed seem pleasant to him, so he committed it. Likewise he tempted the other younger brother to sin with her also. Thus the two brothers did with their sister that foul deed; but the one did not know of the other; and that perverse girl kept this secret, until she speedily became pregnant. And her parents kept her on account of the shame, and they did not know what had been done; so she remained many months without bearing a child. Then they set her upon a beast, and took her to the holy Matthew; and when they drew near to the mountain, the old man came forth, fleeing and tearing the hair of his beard, until he met them at the foot of the mountain. Thereupon the parents made known to him what had happened to her, and wished to give him gifts, that he might pray over her, that she might bring forth; so he bade them take her gently down from the back of the beast; and she alighted, being in great agony. Then he said to her : «Make known to me what thou hast done, thou vile woman!» So she made known to him what we have recorded, |81 and more also. Thereupon he raised his hands to heaven, and prayed; and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed her up. And many were present, and witnessed this; and one who was present bore witness to us, being a truthful and trustworthy man, of the children of the Church, that that spot became like a dark well, descending into the depths of the earth, and remained so six months, while fire ascended from it into the air, and an evil smell came up from it, so that none could approach it. The place was at some little distance from the monastery, about twenty-five bowshots.
Likewise in the monastery of the holy Abba Sinuthius on the Mount of Adriba, you know that many of the saints were confirmed there, and especially the blessed Archimandrite Abba Seth. For he was a man who walked in a good path during his life; and after his departure to the Lord, we beheld with our own eyes his tomb, which was built over him in gratitude for the many miracles and the healing and the cures, which take place through his holy body to this hour, and are innumerable from their multitude ; for wonders are worked by it every day.
In the desert of Wadî Habîb also there were holy men who saw visions and revelations, to whom God disclosed that which took place in the world, so that they beheld it as if they were present everywhere. For to some of |82 them the Lord Christ and the holy Apostles appeared, and raised them up in their poverty and devotion; and to some of them the angels appeared. And there was among them an old man in the monastery of Saint Macarius, named John, a native of Shubrâ Maisinâ, which is also called Arwât. Him the Berbers seized three times, and took, prisoner; and they made him a slave, and ill-treated him and caused him to suffer. But the Lord looked upon his patience continually, and restored him to his holy monastery. After this he became hegumen, for he was a priest; and this was a rule in the desert of Wadî Habîb, that every monk who attained the rank of priest was appointed hegumen. And he never communicated of the Holy Mysteries without seeing the Lord and Saviour in his vision, with our Lady the Virgin; and great secrets were made manifest to him. And there were holy men with him of this desert, whose history we need not relate. And he had a disciple, named Epimachus of Arwât, who was counted worthy of the office of hegumen after him, and was like him in his heart in all his actions; and upon him was much grace, like Moses the prophet in his time; for he healed the sick, and cured every disease, and lived for more than a hundred years.
And the grace of the Holy Ghost descended upon him, and he learnt glorious matters, so that he even knew what he had neither seen nor heard |83 before anyone questioned him upon it. He had two spiritual brothers, one of them being Abba George and the other Abba Abraham, and they were holy and famous for virtuous living and great deeds; and trustworthy men bore witness of them, that they walked in the way of the great Anthony, and brought it to perfection. Now the lay monks at that time worshipped God zealously; and these two holy men beheld the baptized people in the church like white sheep, both old and young. But lo, one of the community became slothful, and went back from the good service of God; and so these two old men beheld him with his colour changed to black in the midst of the brethren. And when the priests had dimissed the brethren, those two went to the cell of that brother, and said to him : «Turn from thy sloth». And they exhorted him and comforted him. So on the morrow, when he came to the church, those two looked upon him, and he had become whiter than all the brethren; and therefore they praised God for his mercy to the race of men, In this way, if thou wilt that I record the deeds of the saints, they would be too many for the time, and too numerous for the pens, and too many for the sheets of paper. Glory be to God for ever and ever! |84
COSMAS I, THE FORTY-FOURTH PATRIARCH. A. D. 730-731.
When the Father Alexander went to his rest, they appointed instead of him a man named Cosmas, who was a holy monk of the desert of Saint Macarius, and a native of Banâ. So they seated him on the throne against his will; but he did not cease to pray night and day to the Lord Christ that he would receive him to himself. And at the end of fifteen months he went to his rest with glory and honour, on the last day of Ba'unah.
Now there was outside Maryût a monastery called Tamnûrah, in which there was an old monk, holy and spiritual, and also a young monk; and they used to chastise their bodies with iron and with chains. For the superior, whose name was John, was endowed with grace and the power of prophecy, and saw wonders many times, and he had a disciple who served him and was named Theodore; and this man envied his deeds, and imitated his life and all his works with spiritual love, and surpassed all in the monastery in his conduct, in the diaconicon and at the table of the brethren and in all the affairs of the monastery and its service, seeking abasement at |85 all times. For Theodore used to follow the words of Christ to his disciples 18 : «He among you who desires to be great, let him be to you a servant». And he acted in this manner until he grew old, as he said to us with his own holy mouth when he was counted worthy of the patriarchal dignity; for he taught us and incited us to humility at all times. And in the lifetime of Alexander, his spiritual father said to him prophetically : «O my son Theodore, believe that I do not lie». He answered : «Yea O my father, I have never heard the name of a lie from thy mouth». The father said to him (another copy reads, The old man said to him) : «O believer in God, verily in the year in which Alexander dies, I in my meanness shall die with him, and thou shalt sit upon the throne of the glorious Father Saint Mark, not after the Father Alexander, but after him who shall follow him». And the words of that orthodox old man, the Archimandrite, were fulfilled.
For the people of Alexandria, the priests and officials, were taking thought as to whom they should appoint in the room of Abba Cosmas, until the Lord recalled to their minds the memory of the holy father and monk Theodore. Therefore they journeyed to the monastery, and took him and brought him to Alexandria. |86
THEODORE, THE FORTY-FIFTH PATRIARCH. A. D. 731-743.
And an assembly of the holy bishops met together and consecrated the holy Father Theodore patriarch by the command of the Lord Christ. And the affairs of the patriarchate and of the orthodox church grew and prospered during all his days, until they returned to their former state, and became still more flourishing, so that it seemed as if the church had never been plundered. And Theodore was a good man, tranquil, full of charity towards all men, beautiful in countenance like an angel of God; and in his days nothing evil was done.
But Ubaid Allah, the ruler in Egypt, brought punishments and trials and losses upon the people of Egypt, and added an eighth of a dinar to every dinar of the taxes; and through his oppression of the people the dinar grew rare and rose in value. Yet when he continued long in this course, God would not suffer him, but raised up against him some of the chief among the Muslims, who went to Hishâm the prince, and made known to him the evil which he did, and the troubles that he had caused in Egypt. Therefore Hishâm was filled with wrath against Ubaid Allah, and wrote at once to remove him, and despatched an officer with many attendants to Egypt in great anger. And he commanded that he should be banished with his younger son, Isma'îl, to the land of the Berbers in the province of Africa, |87 and that Isma'îl should be exiled thence to the land of the Setting Sun, and punished because he did not do what was commanded him. So this was speedily done to him. Hishâm made Ubaid Allah's elder son, Al-Kasim, governor in Egypt, and set him over her affairs instead of his father, who was banished to the Berbers. When he had remained there a short time he ruled over the Berbers in Africa, where his son Isma'îl was, until he was banished whither the prince commanded. For Ubaid Allah wrote to Hishâm, seeking to conciliate him, and expressing repentance of what he had done, and begging him to make him governor of that country; and so he was made governor over the Berbers in Africa. Yet his deeds were again evil, for he seized the daughters of rich men and the daughters of the chiefs and officers, and sent them to Hishâm the prince as maidservants, writing to him that they were slave-girls whom he had bought for him as maidservants. Likewise the sheep, when they- were near parturition, he ripped them open, and took out the lambs just covered with wool, and took their skins and made pelisses of them, and sent them to Hishâm, saying that he had bought them for him; so that he destroyed large numbers of sheep from that country. Therefore the Berbers conspired against him, forming a plot to kill his son Isma'îl and the people of his house; and they seized Isma'îl and his wives and concubines and all that belonged to him, and killed them all in his presence, while he looked on. And they ripped the women open, and took the infants from them, and threw them down before him. |88
Then they brought Isma'îl to Africa, taking him bound to his father, and killed him in his presence while he looked on, after ripping him open and striking his father on the head and face with his dead body; and afterwards they drove his father away from their country, following and insulting him, while he was sad and weeping. And our father Theodore lived to see all these things.
Then the Lord visited him, and he departed to him in a good old age and in the grace of the Lord Christ. And the Church was growing, without adversaries or internal divisions, all his days. He remained upon the apostolic throne eleven years and a half, and went to his rest on the seventh day of Amshir.
MICHAEL I, THE FORTY-SIXTH PATRIARCH. A. D. 744-768.
As the Scripture says in the 77th Psalm 19 : «What we have heard we have seen, and our fathers have told us»; and as Moses the Prophet wrote |89 history, for he described what had happened on the earth from Adam the first man to his own time; and after him were the prophets who prophesied what should take place; and after them the holy apostles preached what they themselves had witnessed : so those who followed them did likewise. Then there were the teachings of the inspired fathers of the Church, and the words which confirmed the faith and the baptized brethren who put on the garment of light; and the divinely assisted fathers who gave strength to the firm foundation and to the immovable pillar 20. And we have the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour, who delivered us and saved us from our sins by his Incarnation of the pure Virgin, and graciously granted to us the opening of our hearts and understandings by the hearing of his holy Scriptures. Philo and Justus and Josephus, the Jews, were the first who related the destruction of Jerusalem. Those who composed for us the history of the holy Church were Africanus and Eusebius and Sozomenus, who showed us the good and the evil, and the trials which befell the saints and shepherds of the flock of the Lord Christ, and the troubles which they underwent for the sake of the Church and the orthodox people at the hands of the secular governors at all times, not only in Egypt, but also at Antioch and Rome and Ephesus. There appeared the heresy of Nestorius, whose tongue deserved |90 to be cut out at the root, and the false teaching of the other heretics at that time; but God dispersed them all, like the dust before the wind, that is to say, by means of the young lion, Cyril, who excommunicated Nestorius with the rest of the heretics, and whose writings were placed in all the orthodox churches of the world. This is shown to us by that book which begins with the names of the patriarchs as far as the true confessor and champion, Dioscorus, who anathematized Leo, the soul-devouring lion, as his name implies, and excommunicated the six hundred and thirty, assembled at Chalcedon, and Marcian the prince and the vile princess Pulcheria, and all the followers of Leo, and was deposed by command of the princes, and sent into exile, where he finished his fight. Dioscorus brought back many souls to the Lord Christ by his action. And all that happened was written down for us to that point in the twelfth part of the histories of the Church. And for the first history of events subsequent to that, from the time of the Father Cyril when he was in the monastery of Ablah, down to the days of the father and confessor Alexander, we may consult the teacher and scribe in his time, who was the archdeacon and companion and secretary of the Father Patriarch Abba Simon, patriarch of Alexandria, namely |91 the monk, Abba George. For he wrote that history on the mountain of the holy Macarius in the Wadî Habîb, and informed us of what happened in the time of Marcian, the unbelieving prince, and the trouble that overtook our fathers and those that came after them, down to the time of Sulaiman, son of Abd al-Melik, prince of the Muslims, after whom reigned Omar, son of Abd al-Azîz, who drove away Usâmah, the unbelieving governor, who had been before his reign in Egypt. Therefore I, the vile sinner, beg you to pray the Lord Christ for me, that through your prayers he may loose the bond of my feeble tongue, and open my darkened heart, and give me knowledge of words, so that perchance I may be able to show to you, my brethren and my father, what you ask of me, although it exceed my power, not as a teacher and guide greater than you, but as a scholar, since I saw that of which I have written with my own eyes, and its importance imposes a debt upon me, and my hand touched it, besides what I heard from friends older than myself, such as I could trust and believe. God forbid that I should act according to the words of the true gospel 21, concerning the servant who buried his Lord's silver in the ground. I declare to your Holiness, vile sinner among men as I am, that I follow the words of David, when he praises the Creator in the 112th Psalm : «Who raises the poor from the earth and the needy from the dunghill, and sets him with the rich of the people 22 ». He it is who has seated me among the holy fathers, so that |92 I witnessed what befell them in my heart, that I might write it down, although unworthy; for they became shepherds upon the earth, and in many cases gave up their lives for the name of Christ. Let me then record a few of their deeds, for the rest of them the Lord Christ alone knows, with all that took place in former times. But indeed the Lord Christ knows that we have added nothing to the facts, having related what took place down to the death of the blessed Father Theodore, patriarch of Alexandria, and the affairs of state in his days, to the end of the seventeenth chapter of the History, completed above. Now, by the will of God and your holy prayers, we will write the eighteenth chapter of the History of the Church.
When Ubaid Allah left Egypt, Al-Kasim, his son, became governor after him, and was much more wicked than his father, according to the words of the holy gospel; «Every evil tree brings forth evil fruit 23». This man did evil before God and men in his time of government, and walked in the bad path, as I will relate further on. Solomon, the wise son of David, says : «Woe to the people of a kingdom which is ruled by a child 24!» Now this Al-Kasim was a child in age and conduct; and when an ignorant prince rules, all his companions will be like him. The first beginning of his acting thus was that he loved evil and loved women, like horses which neigh one |93 after another. He obtained for himself female slaves of every race without number, and his heart was exceedingly pleased with them, as we witnessed with our own eyes many times. For he used to send for the blessed patriarch Theodore, acting like a wolf in sheep's clothing; and the Father Patriarch was accompanied by my spiritual father, the bishop Abba Moses, who went to bear him company; and the governor loved my father more than all the bishops. Then the governor brought his young female slaves to the patriarch that he might bless them; and I myself saw them; and he said to the Father Patriarch : «These are thy children; lay thy hand upon them and bless them, and give them a benediction, for I bought them recently». This he did on several occasions with the Father Patriarch. Once when we visited him according to custom, the bishop Abba Abraham, bishop of the Faiyûm or Arsinoites, was there on account of important business. And when we also appeared, Al-Kasim called one of his female slaves, who was a native of the West, and said to our father Abraham : «This is thy daughter». And he placed the bishop's hand upon her hand, for his heart was as the heart of babes. And he said to the bishop : «Thou knowest that I have loved thee greatly since my father's |94 time, and all that thou didst ask of my father, I will do for thee». Then the holy Abraham said to him : «It is good». So Al-Kasim continued : «I desire of thee three hundred dinars». Thereupon the father gave directions to the archdeacon Simeon, who was his steward and had come with him, and who was counted worthy of the bishopric in succession to Abba Abraham. And the bishop said to the archdeacon : «Bring the three hundred dinars». And he forthwith brought the money, and the bishop handed it over to Al-Kasim. For he had much property belonging to the churches, since he possessed in his diocese thirty-five monasteries in the Faiyûm, of which he was the administrator; and he was bound to pay a tax of five hundred dinars, which were due to the Public Treasury upon this property. He had authority over all these monasteries, and the merchants of Egypt sold to him and bought of him. Then after the bishop had paid the three hundred dinars, Al-Kasim said to him : «I do thee this great honour that I have even made my wife a daughter to thee, and yet thou wilt not give her anything to honour her therewith». Accordingly the bishop gave her a hundred dinars into her hand, and Al-Kasim reckoned them as part of the taxes due from him.
And Al-Kasim walked in the path of ignorance continually, and the oppression of the people was doubled in his days. He appointed subordinate governors throughout Egypt worse than himself, men who amassed money from strangers from Aswan to Alexandria; and he caused great trouble to |95 the people throughout the land and in all the provinces, both great and small. The great man devoured the small man, and the strong devoured the weak, like the fishes of the sea; and those who collected the strangers' money devoured the poor and seized their property, until everyone was in distress.
After that, Al-Kasim made boats like the castles of kings, and when he had furnished them, he embarked in them his wives and his slaves, and sailed through the land of Egypt, and took them with him to Alexandria and Tinnis and Damietta, in order to take the money of the merchants and of the people and of the officials in those places. And he went up the river to Upper Egypt as far as Aswan, doing the same thing. And a body of troops and armed men travelled in his company; and they entered the theatre at Ansina.
And on a certain day Al-Kasim arrived at the Monastery of Saint Sinuthius, and went up with great pomp, taking with him one female slave whom he loved more than all the rest, besides his mamelukes; and he made her ride a mare, while he rode another mare at her side. He was accompanied also by an old man, who was a chief among the Muslims, named Rayân, son of Abd al-Azîz, the former governor of Egypt. So, when they reached the door, the aged superior of the monastery came out to meet them with all his sons, that they might do honour to the governor on account of his office. After Al-Kasim had passed through the second door, which |96 is in the fortified wall which surrounds the church, while he remained on horseback, then he came to the door of the church, and began to prepare to enter it, still mounted. But the aged superior of the monastery cried aloud and said : «Dismount, O governor! Enter not into the house of God in such pride, and above all in the company of this woman who is with thee; for no woman has ever entered this church, and come out of it alive. Nay she will die on the spot». Yet Al-Kasim gave no heed to his words, but entered, accompanied by his soldiers. Now the church was very large, and capacious enough to contain thousands of people. So when he reached the middle of the church, still riding, the mare on which the female slave was mounted plunged, and fell to the ground by the power of God; and the female slave died on the spot, both she and the horse that was under her. And as for Al-Kasim, there came upon him an unclean Satanic spirit which threw him down and choked him and buffeted him, so that he foamed at the mouth and gnashed with his teeth like a wild boar. But when he recovered a little, he saw that the old man, the superior of the monastery, was grieved for him; and he gave to the church four hundred dinars as a votive offering, as well as the horse which he was riding. And there was in the monastery a chest of teak-wood, inlaid with ivory, fitted with shelves, above which was the body of Saint Sinuthius. This chest had been |97 made for the sake of the votive offerings, for the convenience of those who should put their votive offerings in it; and the books also were placed therein; and it was of handsome workmanship, admirable and beautiful. So Rayân, who was travelling together with Al-Kasim, admired it, and wished to take it away with him. Now Saint Sinuthius had spent much money on it. So they said to that man : «Thou canst not take it, for he who placed it here forbad its removal.» But he answered : «I must take it, either for a price or as a gift.» Then he bade ten men lift it up, but they could not. Then he called thirty men, but they could not move it. So when he saw the miracle, he gave the monks three hundred dinars. Then they all went away in fear and trembling and wonder. And the unclean spirit did not depart from Al-Kasim until the day of his death, but continued to torment him.
Then God sent down a great dearth upon the land of Egypt, on account of the sins of Al-Kasim. In the first year the land was blasted by the scirocco, and so provisions were scarce, and there was no wheat to be found; and many men and cattle died. Afterwards, in the second year, there came a pestilence upon Egypt, such as had not been before. But in spite of all this the wickedness of Al-Kasim did not diminish but increased, and he doubled the taxes laid upon the people. And when a person went to sleep at night he dreaded the light of morning, and yet he could not wish for night that |98 he might rest from his many troubles. After the second year of famine came the third year, in which there was a scirocco, and the Nile did not rise at all; and the people saw no prosperity in the days of that governor, but the years passed in turn in this manner by God's command, a year of plague followed by a year of scirocco, until the end of the year in which the government was taken from him, namely the seventh year. And the plague lasted from the beginning of Hatûr each year until the twenty-second of Baunah, and raged chiefly at Misr on account of the multitude of sins committed there. And from the eighth of Bashans to the first of Baunah the mortality among the people was so great that not even a part of those who died could be counted; for on one day two thousand perished, and another day twelve hundred, and another day two thousand four hundred at Misr and Al-Gizah, among the people who inhabited those places and traders sojourning there; so that the burial of the dead was interrupted, and there were no tombs to hold them. And no male might be buried until the authorities knew of his death; and then his name was written down, and the name of his father, even in the case of young infants. Then our holy fathers prayed to the Lord, and the rich and the poor did likewise, and they besought him with fasting and prayer and weeping and supplication, until the Lord had pity on them, and took away the plague. |99
After this the merchants sold wheat to the people, and there was an abundant supply of it. So some of the corn-merchants went to a deacon, who practised magic, and lived at Memphis, which is the ancient Misr; and they gave him much money, and begged him to enable them by his magic arts to sell their wheat at a high price. So he began to exercise his art in such a manner that God was angered, and to practise his vile sorcery. For there was with him an orphan boy, the son of a widow who had no other children. And he said to the widow : «Thou hast nothing to eat or to feed thy son withal. Give him to me that I may make him my son, and teach him my art». So she delivered her son to the magician with joy. Now that unbeliever had visited many magicians in divers places, until they taught him to practise profound witchcraft; and thus he was able to do that by which the wheat became dear. Then indeed that miscreant took the widow's son, and led him into a chamber, and shut the door upon him, and hung him up by his hands and feet above the ground, and did to him what made God angry; for he did not cease gradually to flay the skin of the youth from his face to the back of his head daily, until he came to his shoulders. Then wheat became rare and scarce, and whereas it had been sold at the rate of fourteen ardebbs for a dinar, and then at two mudds for a dinar, at last it was not to be procured at all. At that time the monitor of the boys in the school went to the widow woman, and said to her : |100 «Thy son has not attended our school for many days. Where then is he?» So she went to that miscreant and enquired after her son, but could not find him. For he said to her : «I have not seen him for many days. He left my house, and returned to thine, and I know nothing about him». Therefore when she heard this from him, she departed in great grief. But the boy was not dead even then, but was still fastened up and partly flayed. And the young monitor saw the magician, his master, entering hour after hour into the closet in which the boy was fastened. So he said in his heart : «What does my master do in these days, entering this closet and coming out?» And he was a sagacious youth. So when the master entered, he followed him secretly. Then he heard that boy, the widow's son, weeping and sighing and imploring his master; but he took no pity on him. And he uttered words in the sadness of his heart such as these : «Alas for thee, my mother, widowed and mourning as thou art, for thou knowest not what has become of me! Alas for thy womb which bore me, and thy breasts which gave me suck! Where dost thou behold the torments of thy orphan son? Would that I had died when thou didst bear me in thy womb, and would that thou hadst never brought me forth upon earth, so that I should fall into this grievous torment! Where are thine eyes beholding me, longing to see me and gaze upon me, who am in this torment?» And the boy said many things like these, in the hearing of the young monitor. So the monitor went away quickly in |101 great terror, stumbling and raising himself again in the extremity of his fear, until he reached the house of the widowed mother of the bov. So he said to her : «I have found thy son.» Then she came speedily, after he had repeated to her what he had heard from her son's mouth, and went to the governor, and repeated to him what had happened and what she had heard. So the governor despatched with her some trustworthy Muslims, and some officials with them, to the house of that miscreant, and they found him within the closet, in which the boy still was, fastened up and flayed from his neck to his shoulders. So they carried the lad away, and led the magician bound before the governor. For at once they fastened his hands and feet, and his ears were cut off in the presence of the governor, and then he confessed all that had been done by him. And they brought in the boy, and beheld him in that state. And they wrote at once to Al-Kasim governor of Egypt; and when he had read the letter, he gave orders that the magician should be stoned and burnt in the fire.
But, in spite of all these things, Al-Kasim did not desist from his evil ways and his love for the amassing of gold. And he used constantly to change the subordinate governors, who acted as his deputies. Now there was a tribe in the mountains in the eastern part of Egypt, from Bilbais to Al-Kulzum and the sea, consisting of Muslims who were called Arabs. And there were among them more than thirty thousand horsemen, roving through those deserts and districts, and they had chiefs in command over them. |102
Al-Kasim, therefore, appointed as their governor a steward of the palace, named Abu Jarah; and his tents were near a monastery named after Our Lady Mary, near Tinnis. In this monastery there were many monks and priests, adorned with good works, and a holy hegumen named Epimachus, who had come from Wadî Habîb, from the Monastery of Saint Macarius, and who was afterwards counted worthy to be made a bishop. And there were with him, among the monks in this monastery, Abba Mennas, who became bishop of the city of Memphis, and Abba James the priest, and many others. And the steward of the palace had two brothers, whom he took up to the monastery; and he entered the church with them, and drove out the monks; and they plundered the church, and seized everything in the monastery, whether stuffs or provisions or furniture. And the steward's younger brother was worse than he. For there was in the cell of the hegumen a cross erected at the east end, with which he drove away the devils who frequently appeared to him. So that youth entered the cell and said to the hegumen : «What is the purpose of this cross?» Whereupon he answered : «It is the cross of Christ, my God.» He said to him : «Dost thou adore him?» The monk answered : «Yea». So the young man spat upon the cross, and treated it insultingly, and reviled the aged hegumen. And the old man went forth from the monastery in great sorrow, saying : «If God do not requite this youth for his deed, I |103 will never return to this church all the days of my life.» Then he departed to another place, and remained there; and he said within himself : «I will wait ten days, and see what will take place; and if nothing occur, I will depart.» So, on the eighth day, that young man went and sat in the privy place, and his bowels gushed out, as it had happened to Arius the unbeliever. Therefore when his brother, the steward of the palace, beheld that punishment, he was afraid, and departed from the monastery; and fear came to all who heard or saw.
Afterwards the steward went round through that district until he found the holy Epimachus, whom he brought back to the church, after entreating him with respect and honour; and he restored to him all that had been taken away. And great fear fell upon the Muslims and long remained among them.
During all this time, the church of Alexandria remained widowed, without a patriarch. Therefore the orthodox Theodosians assembled, and called the bishops together. And a number of the heretical Chalcedonians met together; and they formed a council at Misr. And three men were brought forward, that one of them might be chosen, and enthroned as patriarch. But it did not please the Lord that one of them should receive that degree, but he kept it for him whom he had selected and marked out from the womb, as shall appear further on in our discourse. |104
And God took away the government from Al-Kasim; for the caliph sent to him one who arrested him and carried him away to his master under guard and restraint. And when he reached Bilbais, together with those in charge of him, who were conducting him to the caliph, the bishops and a body of Christians came to him at Bilbais, and begged him to allow them to appoint a patriarch. Then he demanded of them that they should give him money; but they would not give it, and so he refused permission, and would not allow them to appoint a patriarch. Then Abba Theodore, bishop of Misr, who was the chief of the bishops at that time, and was the first of three bishops named Theodore who successively occupied the see of Misr, said to my spiritual father, Abba Moses, bishop of Wasîm : «Behold, Father, the conduct of this Al-Kasim, and the evil that he has done among men, such as thou hast never seen before this day, but which I have beheld during the greater part of my time!» The bishop Abba Moses replied : «Pardon me, my Lord and Father. If this man return to Egypt, then God has not spoken by me the sinner. But thou shalt hear what God will do to this wicked wretch».
After this the commissioners conducted Al-Kasim on his journey. And he never returned to Egypt, but all his goods were seized, while he was |105 tortured and imprisoned. And the caliph sent to Egypt, and seized his male and female slaves, who were carried away to the caliph.
Then the bishops returned with their attendants to Misr, where they found that the Chalcedonians had anticipated then, having chosen a follower of their sect, a man who made needles in the market-place, named Cosmas. For they had collected among themselves gold and silver and plate, and had given them to that perverse governor, Al-Kasim, before he departed; and he had given orders that they should appoint him patriarch. So the Chalcedonians took that man Cosmas, and ordained him patriarch for themselves, and triumphed over the orthodox, because they had elected a patriarch, whereas the latter had not nominated one for themselves.
The governor of Egypt who succeeded Al-Kasim was a man named Hafs, son of Al-Walîd, a native of Hadramaut, of high rank in the army of the Muslims in Egypt, and a Sunnite according to their religion. In those days a council of bishops assembled at Misr, in the year 459 of Diocletian, on the 28th day of Misri. And there were with them the clergy of Alexandria and the chief laymen, who brought men with them, so that the election might fall upon some one. And one of the bishops mentioned a certain name secretly; but God, who knows all, had reserved this degree for him who was worthy of it.
These are the names of the bishops assembled to appoint the patriarch : |106 Abraham, bishop of the Faiyûm; Moses, bishop of Wasîm; Mennas, bishop of Tmai; James, bishop of Busîr; Theodore, metropolitan bishop, bishop of Misr; Victor, bishop of Malîj; James, bishop of Sahrajt; Isaac, bishop of Samannûd; Abraham, bishop of Bilbais; Peter, bishop of Tarnût; Michael, bishop of Atrib; besides the clergy of Alexandria. Then they went to the governor, Hafs, and prayed him to allow them to appoint a patriarch. And he said to them : «When your choice is fixed upon some one, keep him until I have seen him.» So they went out from before him, and proceeded to the church of Saint Sinuthius at Misr, and prayed, and took their seats according to their rank in agreement with the canon of the church, each one sitting with his father and bishop, while the clergy of Alexandria sat in front of the bishops. And all were tranquil and dignified, and none spoke a word unless the bishops commanded; and the faces of all were bent upon the ground, both small and great. And when the sixth hour had passed, the aged bishop, Abba Mennas, bishop of Tmai, lifted up his face, and said in a low voice to Abba Abraham, bishop of the Faiyûm : «O my Father, pardon me. What thinkest thou that we are about, and |107 for what reason are we assembled?» He answered : «My Father, the Lord Christ will settle all matters, and so will Saint Mark, and all of us also, for the chief Shepherd of our souls and bodies is with us.» Then all the people and. the assembly cried with a loud voice together saying : «The Lord Christ will accomplish this matter according to his will.» Thereupon they stood up and prayed; and when they had finished the prayers, they agreed to meet on the morrow; and each one of them departed to his own place. Now some of the bishops, from the North, had mentioned the name of one whom they had selected; and Abba Abraham, bishop of the Faiyûm, heard of it. So Abba Peter, bishop of Tarnût, who had lived all his days in the desert of Father Macarius, and was beautiful in his conduct and excellent in his actions, said to them : «I warn thee not to lay thy hand on him whom they shall bring forward to thee, until the opinion of the assembly shall be unanimous concerning him; for he is not fit for this degree.» Now Abba Peter had grown weak through his great age, and was kept apart from the rest.
And on the second day they assembled and prayed and took their seats. The clergy of Alexandria being present, the archpriest exclaimed : «Bring this matter to a settlement, my Lords and Fathers.» So Theodore said to them : «Who is it that you have chosen, that we also may know him?» Thereupon the archpriest said : «Such and such an one, and here is his name written down.» Then Theodore said to them : «If the assembly approve of |108 him, he is fit.» The archpriest replied : «This affair regards us, not the bishops, who have nothing to do except to lay their hands upon him, and no more; for it is we who elect the patriarch.» Then Abba Abraham, bishop of the Faiyûm, said to them : «Your bishops also may propose to you him whom they choose. Yet if you have proposed one who is worthy, we will ordain him; but if he is not worthy, we shall reject him.» Thus a discussion took place between the two parties on the second day; and after prayer they dispersed. And they continued to act in this way till ten days were over. During this time there was peace between them, and there were many discussions by day and by night; yet they would not give up their views, nor would the bishops of Upper Egypt adopt their opinion in this matter, but remained separated from them, saving : «If this man were the only man possible, we would not appoint him.» But some of the bishops of the northern dioceses were in agreement with the clergy of the Alexandrians with regard to his appointment. Then on the 4th day of the new month, namely Tût, Satan began to sow dissension among them, so that sadness and weeping came to them on account of it. For the bishops who were in agreement with the Alexandrians cried and said : «If we do not elect this man whose name we have written, we will not elect anyone.» But the Lord Christ, who cared for all these matters, was displeased at their words; while the man whom he approved for this ministry was kept |109 in reserve. Thus there was a quarrel between them that day, as there had been over the matter of the Barsanuphians. And while they were in this plight, God put it into their hearts at that hour to send for the two bishops, Abba Moses of Wasîm and Peter of Tarnût; for they said : «If you do not bring the two aforesaid, there will never be peace between us.» Now Abba Moses was very weak, because he had been confined by sickness for six months in the Monastery of Nahyâ, and Abba Peter likewise at the church of Our Lady on the Holy Mountain of Wasîm, in the Monastery of Nahyâ, which stands on the bank of Al-Gizah to the west of Misr. So the bishop of Misr and the bishop of the Faiyûm went to those two, and informed them of what had occurred. But Abba Moses could not mount a beast or sit upon it on account of the great pain which he was suffering; so the fathers contrived a plan, and had him carried on the bier on which the dead were borne, for they found nothing else there. And some of the faithful bore him on their shoulders, till they brought him to Al-Fustât. But they made Abba Peter ride on a horse; and there was a great company with hiM. When they arrived, the assembly met together on the 8th day, and the clergy of Misr and the officials with them, that they might settle this business by the will and help of God. And there were with them the archdeacon of the church of Saint Sergius, and the aged officials Mennas |110 and Paul, and many of the Christians of Misr. So they prayed and took their seats, and began to attack one another with words, as at the beginning. As the strife increased, the bishops of the North said : «Wilt thou not appoint this man whose name is written down?» But Abba Abraham, bishop of the Faiyûm, said : «We have no part or lot with him.» Then Abba Abraham said : «If you would listen to me, we would all of us beseech God, as the canons command, and pray him to raise up for us whom he will, that so the Church may not be divided into two parties». Then some of the Northern bishops signified their approval of this proposal, and took their seats with the bishops of Upper Egypt. Now the blessed Abba Moses, bishop of Wasîm, was lying in the midst of the assembly, on account of the severity of the pain which he suffered, and when he heard them speak of schism, he rose up by the power of the Holy Ghost which was with him, and beckoned with his hand to the clergy of Alexandria, so that they drew near to him. Then he said to them : «What are you saying?» They answered : «What Abba Mennas, bishop of Tmai, says, that is our opinion; for it is we that appoint the patriarch, and you have nothing to do with this matter.» Now there was by his side a staff for him to lean upon on account of his infirmity, so he called to mind what the Lord did in the Temple, when he drove out the money-changers therein with the scourge of cords; and he rose up and drove out the clergy of Alexandria, and pursued them, striking |111 them with the staff, till he had forced them out through the door, saying to them : «Depart from the midst of us! Ruin not the church of God through the desires of your hearts!» Then he turned to the bishop Abba Mennas, and the bishops with him, and said : «What have I to do with this man who is not chosen by the Lord Christ, but whom thou desirest and delightest in? If thou knowest any of his virtues, recount them in the midst of the assembly. Then, if they approve of him, it is a thing from God, and he may be appointed.» When Abba Mennas heard this, he said to Abba Moses : «The books forbid this, therefore leave him; but if you know the virtues of any man, then appoint him.» Then he made a prostration, and departed, saying : «Let there be unity and concord among you; I am innocent of this mischief.» Then they separated on that day, after the prayer of the Sixth Hour, in sorrow and great grief, because they had not found anyone to appoint. For the names of many were mentioned, but they would not agree to any one of them.
But at midnight a deacon in the company of Abba Moses awoke and said to him : «Pardon me, my Father, I know one worthy of this office.» He said to him : «Who is he my son?» The deacon answered : «He is the holy and precious one, the priest Michael at the church of Saint Macarius, a pure virgin, brought up in the desert». Then the bishop Abba Peter cried and said : «He who speaks by this deacon is Christ. O my son, verily this priest Michael is worthy of this rank». So on the morrow they assembled, and there was a discussion among them, according to their custom; and |112 then they mentioned the priest Michael, the aforesaid. So all the people cried out, old and young with one voice, saying : «In truth that man is worthy». And before this he had seen a holy man, who received revelations from the Lord, for he bore witness to him of that and said : «I heard a voice from heaven, while I was in the church of the holy Saint Macarius, saying : The priest Michael is worthy to be patriarch».
Then they all rose up and proceeded to the palace, and made known to Hafs what had taken place, and what they had agreed upon, and prayed him to write a letter to the seniors and priests of Wadî Habîb, that they might give up the said Abba Michael to the bishops and clergy. So the governor wrote letters for them, and they took them and went out of his presence. Now the Lord Jesus Christ had already moved the superiors of Wadî Habîb for a certain cause; and they had come forth from the desert with the aforesaid priest Michael in their company; and the reason was that they had met together and taken counsel, saying : «Al-Kasim, the tyrant, increased our land-tax and poll-tax beyond our power to pay. Now a new governor is come, therefore let us go and visit him and pray for him, and congratulate him on his appointment; and let us have |113 confidence in God, and beg the governor to remove these unjust exactions from us». So they arrived at the Island on the 13th of Tût. And on that day the messengers of the council had started with the letters on their way to the desert; and when they had crossed the river, they met the superiors of the monks, and with them Abba Michael, on whose account they had undertaken their journey. Therefore, when they saw him, they were greatly astonished, and wondered and rejoiced exceedingly; and each one of them marvelled at what the Lord Christ had done. So they took him, and conducted him to the governor's palace, with all the clergy of Misr acclaiming him and chanting before him, till they reached the palace. And they said : «The Lord has sent us the trusted shepherd, the new Mark». Then when they informed Hafs of what had happened, he marvelled greatly; and he clapped his hands together and said : «Let us bless the God of the Christians, who has done deeds at which we wonder». And he said to them : «This man is he whom God has chosen for you, to be a father for you. Take him, and depart with him in peace». And Abba Theodore, the bishop of the diocese, went forward and approached the governor and prayed for him, and then departed with the patriarch. And the people cut off pieces of Michael's garments for the sake of a blessing.
And on the morrow, which was the 14th of Tût, the bishops embarked |114 in the boats, and went down the river to Alexandria, which they reached on the night of the 16th of Tût; and many people came forth to meet the patriarch. But as they entered the streets of the city, carrying candles and crosses and books of the gospels before him, rain began to descend upon them; and it lasted three days and three nights, pouring in torrents. And all the tribes in Alexandria said : «This man is from God. Two years have passed without a fall of rain in this city. Blessed is the entrance of this man into our city!» And they consecrated him on the 17th day of Tût. Now we would fain relate a few of his deeds in the monastic life, and his miracles before he became patriarch; but we fear to be tedious, for everything has a measure, as the Scriptures say. Moreover I have related these matters in the book of his biography, apart from this history.
At that time the blessed Athanasius at Antioch departed to the Lord. And Hishâm, the prince, appointed after, him a trustworthy man, named John. Then Hishâm died, and the government of the empire was undertaken by a man named Al-Walîd, son of Yazîd, son of Abd al-Malik. Since, however, his people hated him, he began to build a city named after himself in the desert, for he gave his name to it; but the water was fifteen miles distant from it. He collected workmen from all quarters, and built that city by means of forced labour; and on account of the multitude many died every day from the scarcity of water; for though the water was carried thither by twelve |115 hundred camels daily, yet this was not enough for them; the camels being divided into two bands, six hundred carrying water one day, and six hundred the next. Then Al-Walîd was attacked by a man named Ibrahim, who killed him, and seized the government instead of him. Ibrahim released the enslaved workmen, who departed each one to his own place; and he appointed a new governor in Egypt, named Hassân, son of Atâhiya; and this Ibrahim was a cousin of his. (But according to another copy the governor's name was Isa, son of Abu Atâ.) The new governor had been secretary to Usâmah, and he was acquainted with all that Usâmah had done. Now Egypt, before Hassân was governor, abounded in gold; and a dinar was as common as a dirhem among the people at that time. But when he arrived, a great pestilence broke out in the land, until a young calf was sold for twenty dinars. When Hassan's commissioners and friends informed him of this, he observed : «I know what the people of Egypt do. If I live, I will make them buy a bull for two dinars». And at this time the Egyptians suffered great losses, and trials and troubles were brought upon them, so that the people offered their cattle and their children for sale.
And there was at Misr a young man, a Muslim, named Rajâ, who |116 assembled a body of followers, and seized the government, with the assistance of Hafs the former governor. And they went to Hassân, and wished to kill him; but he fled from them to Damascus. And Hafs commanded that everyone in the provinces of Egypt should pray according to the laws of the Sunnite ritual, and proclaimed that all those, who would give up their own religion and become Muslims, should be exempted from the poll-tax; for that was an impost due from all of them. By means of this procedure Satan did much harm to many people who gave up their religion; and some of them enrolled themselves among the soldiery. And the patriarch, Abba Michael, saw these things with sadness and tears, because he beheld men denying the Lord Christ. And for these causes the bishops left their sees, and departed into the desert, and entered the monasteries, where they humbled themselves before the Lord in prayer.
At that time the Father Moses, bishop of Wasîm, was detained by his spiritual children in his see, and they would not let him depart from it to any other place; but. he prayed for his flock that the wolf might not carry them away from his Church. And he remained at Al-Gizah and in the neighbourhood of Misr, constantly superintending the affairs of his children. And behold, some of the orthodox officials of Misr came to his house in sadness, and said to him : «Father, pray for us earnestly. For we have counted those who have seceded to the religion of Islam from among our brethren, the baptized Christians, in Misr and its neighbourhood, through the |117 persuasions of this governor, and they amount to twenty-four thousand persons». So the father said to them : «My children, be assured that this month you will see with your own eves this unbelieving governor Hafs burnt with fire in the midst of Fustât Misr; and Rajâ will be slain with the sword». And the father's prophecy was speedily fulfilled. Morever this holy man used to heal the sick in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and gave to men the gift of repentance.
Then the prince sent a general to Egypt, accompanied by five thousand fighting men, that they might make war upon Hafs. The name of this general was Hautharah; and he gained possession of Egypt, and caused Hafs to be burnt in the fire, and killed Rajâ with the sword, and seized all their goods, as the blessed one had prophesied. So the prince took away the government from those two, because they had driven Hassân away from the country, and had taken the power into their own hands without his orders. And Hautharah sent their property to the prince. And the government was restored to Hassân for these reasons; and he was a wise judge like Solomon, and loved the churches and the bishops and monks; and he loved the patriarch Abba Michael, and used to admit him, and converse with him often, when he visited him, from the first days of his patriarchate. And as for Hautharah, after what had happened, he remained in Egypt with his troops. And he loved the orthodox; and, as he resided at Wasîm with all his army for three years, he used to consult the Father |118 Abba Moses about the salvation of his soul. But there was much disturbance in the outer provinces, and fighting among the Muslims, and they killed one man after another, so that even their governors did not remain in office for a whole year but were slain before it was over. At last there arose a man named Marwân, prince of those Turks; and he brought his army, and seized the empire by force, and ruled it with a strong arm like Pharao; and none could withstand him, but he destroyed them with the sword; and every year he shed much blood of those who fought against him. And there was in Marwân's house a Chalcedonian deacon, named Theophylact, who was a goldsmith and wrought in gold for the prince's household; and he prayed them to gain promotion for him from the prince, by making him patriarch over his fellow-countrymen, the Greeks; for they had no patriarch at that time. So this was done for him speedily; and they appointed him patriarch over the Chalcedonians.
Now peace and prosperity continued in Egypt for five years. Then the governor was removed from Egypt, and a man named Abd al-Malik was appointed. He was a son of Musa, son of Nasir, of the family of Hassân the Jew, who had overrun part of the West. And this governor hated the Christians greatly, and was exceedingly proud, and caused much trouble |119 to the people of Egypt, and gave rise to much disturbance in the country, seizing for the benefit of Marwân the gold and silver and copper and iron, and everything that he could find. This he did by the advice of an evil man, who had learnt these deeds from Satan, and was director of all the arsenals of Egypt, and of the affairs of the government, and was named Abd ar-Rahîm. His labours at last produced results unheard of before, namely that he took linen rags and smeared the ships of the fleet with decoctions of herbs which he mixed up together; so that, when the fire was thrown by the Romans upon the ships, they did not burn. And this I saw with my own eyes; for the ships caught lire, but yet did not burn; and the fire was at once extinguished.
And merchants came from the country, bringing their wares, and collected money among themselves, and gave it to Marwân, and prayed him to allow them to rebuild the churches of Misr; and so he consented to their request. But the friends of Theophylact the Chalcedonian, who was also called Cosmas, said to him : «Verily there are many churches of ours in Egypt, of which the Theodosians, that is to say the Copts, took possession, when the government of the Romans was overthrown; and now we have no church there. We beg the prince to write for us to Egypt, and send by us letters commanding that the church of Saint Mennas at Maryût be handed over to us, so that we may communicate there. » For that church was famous for many |120 miracles, and had been endowed with property in many places. So Theophylact took to Abd al-Malik, son of Musa, son of Nasir, letters which directed him to settle the dispute between the Jacobites and the Chalcedonians, and ordered that the truth concerning the founders of that church should be ascertained, and that it should be handed over to them. And when Abd al-Malik had read the letters from Marwân, he despatched an officer to Alexandria, and commanded that the two patriarchs, the Jacobite and the Chalcedonian, should be brought before him. Now the fast was at hand, so he commanded that they should be summoned.
And when Abba Michael reached Wasîm, the bishop, Abba Moses, went out to meet him, and travelled with him until they came to Abd al-Malik. And there was with us the bishop Abba Theodore, bishop of Misr, who, before he became bishop, had been archdeacon of the church of Saint Macarius in Wadî Habîb. And we attended at the palace together with the Chalcedonians every day, and this we continued to do during the forty days of the fast, from early morning to the end of the day. And the bishop of the Romans, and their patriarch Cosmas went with us. Now the said bishop hated the people of his religion; for he said : «I have not gone so far as to add a fourth Person to the Trinity.» His name was Constantine, and with him was a deacon, named Anastasius, of the church of the Melkites at Alexandria. And Abd al-Malik assembled the Melkites, and read the decree to them, and enquired into the truth of the allegations. And the dispute carried |121 on before him had great results; for the orthodox with their arguments from the Holy Scriptures prevailed over the Chalcedonians, so that Abd al-Malik marvelled. Then he summoned the chief of his Divân, who was a Muslim with two Divâns under his authority, and another man called Isa, son of Amir, and handed them over to him, that he might thoroughly investigate the matter, and make it known; and he ordered that each party should expound its claims in a letter. But the Chalcedonians went secretly to the house of Isa, and offered him bribes, that he might favour them in their claims. And the patriarch, Abba Michael, assembled his bishops, and wrote a letter full of all wisdom and of the grace of God, and of the words of the holy Scriptures of God, giving an account of the foundation of the church of the martyr, Saint Mennas, and of the troubles and banishments endured by our fathers, the patriarchs, at the hands of the Chalcedonians, and of the taking of the churches from them by the hands of the princes of the Romans; and that report was written down in Coptic and in Arabic. Afterwards they assembled together, and gave that report to the aforesaid Isa, who read it and marvelled at the patriarch's eloquence. Then the Chalcedonians sent him a letter a span long, with two words in it; and, when he had read it, he laughed and shook his head; and the two letters were read in public, and all present heard their contents. Then our father the patriarch, Abba Michael, said to Isa : «My Lord Secretary, it is not right that we should allow our enemies, who have no God, to hear our words, so that they |122 may take them as a proof hereafter.» Isa replied : «I will read the letter.» But he only did this in guile, and in his care for the interests of the Chalcedonians, because of the bribe which he had received from them.
Now behold, we will cite a part of the contents of the letter written by the blessed Father Patriarch : «Michael, by the grace of God bishop of the city of Alexandria and of the Theodosian people, to the governors, with regard to the church of the glorious Saint Mennas at Maryût. At that time reigned the faithful and pious princes, Arcadius and Honorius, in the days of the holy father, the patriarch Theophilus. He began to build the church of John the Baptist, and when he had finished it, he built the church of Saint Mennas at Maryût, and another church named after Theodosius, son of Arcadius the prince, who helped him to build the churches. When Theophilus was dead, all his successors added to that church, little by little, until the days of the patriarch Timothy; so that it was he who completed it. After that time there came a diabolical prince, named Marcian; for it was he who divided the church through his corrupt creed, and banished the glorious father, the patriarch Dioscorus, who fought for the right faith of his fathers. And Marcian invented a vile new creed, being assisted therein by Leo, patriarch of Rome, who was anathematised by the patriarch Dioscorus together with his impure writings, which were full of heresy. And the aforesaid prince did wicked deeds against the children of the |123 orthodox church, and was exceedingly tyrannical; for he slew some, and drove others away into exile; and they suffered severely at his hands. Nor did they cease to be oppressed in like manner, until the government was transferred to our lords the Muslims. And to this day we continue to dispute with the followers of that new creed.»
This is a little out of much contained in the letter of the glorious father, Abba Michael the patriarch. But as for the Chalcedonians, they wrote and said : «In the beginning the power was in our hands, and the churches with all their property were ours. But the Muslims, after their conquest of Egypt, handed them over to the Copts».
Isa however, for the sake of the bribe which he had received from the Chalcedonians, was desirous of proving them in the right, and of convicting the Copts of falsehood. So he said : «Neither you nor they have brought any proof of your words. Go therefore and write two other letters besides these two, and bring them to us.» So we did as he said. Then he said again ; «These are no arguments. Go therefore and write something besides these two letters.» And he did not cease to put us off for a whole month. Then one of those present said to Abba Moses, bishop of Wasîm : «My advice is that our father, the patriarch, should give something to this man, that he may deliver us from these adversaries who oppose and resist us.» But Abba Moses answered : «My son, it is not right that patriarchs and bishops should offer bribes to anyone, nor is it right that they should |124 take bribes from anyone. And we have not had to endure persecution for a year or two years or thirty years, like our fathers; but we are now living in our own homes, and our churches are in our own possession, and God does not forsake us nor cease to help us.»
And during that week God requited those heretics through the prayers of our father. For the governor deprived Isa of his office of secretary and his Divân; and there came another in his place, a man of the sons of the judges of the Muslims, named Abu 'l-Husain, who was an old man, tranquil, not given to showing favour to anyone, nor to taking bribes; and he was wise in his discourse, and just in his judgments. So they delivered us to him, that he might judge between us. And at the beginning of his judgment he said : «Which among you is the father of the Jacobites?» So those present pointed to Abba Michael, and said : «Behold him here!» Then he said : «The father of the Melkites?» And they showed him the other. Thereupon he said to Abba Michael : «Thou holdest the faith of James, bishop of Jerusalem, one of the disciples of the Lord Christ.» He said : «Yea, that is my belief.» Then he turned to the other and said : «Make known to me, Sir, who is thy father, and what is thy creed.» The patriarch of the Melkites said to him : «I hold the faith of Marcian the prince». Upon that the judge rejoined : «Thou believest in the prince, and |125 not in God?» And he continued : «Tell me who is the father of thy sect, and whence he came, that I may know and judge between you.» The Melkite answered : «My father, who first laid the foundation, was Nestorius. A council was assembled at Ephesus, at which the leader was Cyril, the spiritual father of this man. They had with them a monk from the Mount of Adriba, in the province of Ikhmîm, and they drove Nestorius out of the Church; for they were assisted by the princess at that time. But after that, God speedily raised up Marcian and the patriarch Leo, who agreed with Nestorius and his followers, and everywhere took possession of the churches, over which bishops have ruled up to this day. But our bishop at Alexandria, Proterius, was slain by the Alexandrians; and therefore the prince commanded that an army should be collected, and sent it to Alexandria, and bade the soldiers slay with the sword; and so they killed thirty thousand in one hour.»
When the judge heard that, he clapped his hands together, and said to those around him : «How cruel and tyrannical was that deed!» Then our spiritual father answered and said to the judge : «Behold, we have been occupied with this matter for two months. The governor delivered us over to Isa, son of Amir, as thou knowest, O judge, whom God loves on account of thy just judgments; and we wrote reports and gave them to Isa, but he would not settle our case, but asked of us more than we know». So the judge commanded to bring forth the reports of the Jacobites and Melkites; and he read them and understood their contents, and was filled with |126 astonishment at the difference between them; and he took the documents, and carried them to the governor, who read them, and was also astonished, and commanded him to pronounce his sentence, and dismissed him. Accordingly the judge came forth, and said to Cosmas : «Thou art a man without religion or God. For behold, the reports bear witness against thee that the church belongs to Abba Michael. We understand all that you have written; therefore go and write other reports besides these, and bring them to me».
So we went out from his presence. But the Chalcedonians recognised that they were vanquished, and therefore they invented among themselves words of guile, and sent them to us. And Constantine, bishop of Misr, was with the messengers; and so he said to Abba Michael : «Thy Paternity knows what has happened to us at Alexandria for the sake of the faith; and to this day the dispute about our creed continues Therefore we desire that there be an agreement between thee and us concerning the church, and we wish to make a compact with thee, and to become one flock together. Send a message therefore to the father concerning this matter». Then the blessed Abba Michael said to the bishops : «What do you say on this question? Shall we send a messenger to him, to hear his proposals?» But they said : «He is acting thus with guile deceitfully». And Abba Moses said to them : |127 «O my fathers, in their hearts are seven thoughts, as it is written 25. They think of things that they cannot bring to pass. But let us try them». Then Abba Michael ordered a priest who was his scribe, and me the sinner, the writer of this history, and sent us to the Chalcedonian patriarch to hear his words. So when we arrived, they came out to meet us with joy; and when we had taken our seats, and the priest Mennas had addressed Cosmas with words of Scripture, for he was learned, then Cosmas heard from him the words of the patriarch. For Mennas began with the creed of our fathers, the Three Hundred and Eighteen, and Athanasius and Cyril, and confirmed the matter with a great and terrible oath, before the Melkite patriarch and Constantine, the Melkite bishop of Misr; and they made their confession. And Constantino the Melkite bishop of Misr said : «This was my faith before to-day, and I will hold it to my last breath ; one Union, one God, one Lord, one Nature, namely the Lord Jesus Christ. He who does not believe thus is a Jew; and he who says that there are Two Natures in the One Christ, after the Union, is a stranger to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, and his lot will be with Judas the Traitor. This then is my creed». But when Anastasius heard that, he was angry and could not speak, and he waited for what was to happen after this. Then we departed to the fathers, and told them all that had taken place, and so they sent us |128 back to them, saying : «This that you have said you shall write down in a letter in your own hand». So when we returned to them, Cosmas their patriarch said : «I have another word which I desire to speak to you». The priest answered : «Hide none of thy thoughts from us, for God looks at the heart, not at the face». So he continued : «If unity be established, what will you do with me?» The priest Mennas replied : «Make known to us what thou desirest». Cosmas answered : «I desire, if unity be established, that my church and your church should be one at Alexandria. And when your father, the patriarch, is present on the days of liturgies, I should be with him; and when he had finished the prayers, each of us should go forth to his own place; and none should hinder me from visiting any of the churches; and so likewise with regard to him». Then the priest said to him : «These are words containing deceit». Cosmas answered : «"What thinkest thou?» So he said : «I will depart to my father, and bring the answer back to thee». Then when the bishops heard this, Abba Moses cried aloud and said : «Our Lord Christ charges us not to call any father upon earth. But now if you approve what they say, then I will speak». The patriarch said to him: «Speak now». So he said : «If he consent to be made by us bishop over the whole of Egypt, and to become our brother, not our father, since Christ will keep thy Paternity that thou mayest guard his holy Church, then we will do it». Then they went to Cosmas |129 and informed him of this their decision; and he rejoiced, and his soul was satisfied. And Anastasius said : «You will surely make me also bishop of some see». But the priest Mennas answered : «Knowest thou not that no man who seeks another degree for himself is fit to be a bishop? But the people of Misr will assist thee in this matter». So Anastasius said to him : «If you do not consent, then be not troubled nor speak at all of this matter». Then we went out from their presence.
After this we all visited Abd al-Malik, who had written a letter at that time to all the provinces of Egypt, commanding that the scribes and officials from every town should assemble before him; and when he admitted them, the palace was crowded with people in such numbers that none could hear anything through the multitude of voices. So we too entered, surrounded by many people. Then, when we had taken our seats, the bishop Constantine separated himself from the Melkites and sat with our bishops, begging them to receive him as one of themselves, and give him a see; and the assembled multitude and the people of the country around us were observing us, wishing to know what would be settled, and looking at the bishops, both orthodox and Chalcedonian. But after a while some of the people from Upper Egypt rushed upon Constantine, when they learnt that he was a Chalcedonian, that they might drive him away, until the |130 orthodox bishops cast some of their garments over him, and surrounded him among themselves; for otherwise the people of Upper Egypt might have killed him. Then the latter cried and said : «Remove the wolves from the midst of the sheep! Flee from the ravenous lions that devour souls! Drive away the foxes that destroy the vineyard of the Lord of Sabaoth! Remove Judas from among the disciples of Christ! Let not your garments touch these unclean ones, O servants of Christ!»
Meanwhile Cosmas hid himself until their anger had abated; and then, after much questioning of our fathers, the people began to be a little pacified. Moreover when our bishops made it known to the people that Constantine had prayed them to receive him among the Theodosians, they rejoiced and cried in the midst of the palace : «Constantine has confessed the right faith, the faith of our orthodox fathers». Then suddenly Ibrahim al-Mâhiki, the official who was governor of Alexandria, appeared, for he had been sitting in an apartment of the palace, and with him a band of heretics, including the deacon Sergius, the patriarch's son, and two of the teachers of the heretics. So the people ran back and wished to flee. But there was a man of Damietta who had been exceedingly wicked, and for that reason I, the sinner, admonished him with a word that I had heard; and he leapt into the midst of the assembly, and stood and reviled me, and blasphemed the Holy Trinity. Then I and all those present saw his garment rent from |131 the top to the bottom in three pieces, and everyone in the palace cried, both Muslims and Christians : «There is no faith except the faith of the father, Abba Michael». And there was a great shouting in the palace, and men rushed to see what had taken place, so that some of the people and the soldiers were injured or killed through the great press. Then Abd al-Malik commanded that all should be sent out of the palace.
And on the morrow he commanded the judge to decide the matter in question, saying: «Settle their affair, and let them depart.» Accordingly the judge sat down with the members of the Divâns, namely the scribes and the chief personages of the government. When they had taken their seats, they said to the patriarch, Abba Michael : «Wilt thou swear that this church rightfully belongs to thee and thy fathers?» The patriarch answered : «Our Law commands me not to swear, whether truly or falsely; but I will write a report, and declare the truth to thee therein». Then the judge said to the heretic Cosmas : «Wilt thou swear that this church is thine, that I may give it over to thee?» So he replied : «Yea, I will swear». Then the judge shook his head, as if mocking him, and said to him : «Where hast thou a witness to this statement that it belongs to thee, even if thou shalt swear to it?» Then he said to our father, Abba Michael : «Hast thou anyone to offer testimony that this church belonged to thy fathers?» He replied : «Yea, I have one who will be my witness to that fact, from the day that it was built until now». The judge asked : |132 «How many days is it since it was built?» Abba Michael answered : «Three hundred and fifty years» So the judge said to him : «And do the witnesses live to this day from that time? Thou speakest to me in parables. Make the truth known to me». Then the patriarch answered and said : «Verily my father Theophilus and his successor Timothy were the builders of this church, and it is they also who testify to me that Theophilus founded it and set up its rows of pillars, for there is his name written upon them; and, when he died, Timothy erected the remainder, since there is his name inscribed. These are my witnesses who testify to this day». Thereupon the judge sent his confidential friends, accompanied by the secretaries and the interpreters, and they ascertained what was written upon the pillars, and found that it was as Abba Michael had declared. And the judge enquired carefully into the truth of the matter, and reiterated his questions concerning it, and discovered that the patriarch's account was correct. So, when he had tested the truth of his words and proved it, he delivered the church to us, and dismissed us with congratulations and honour. Thus we recovered our church once more.
Now our father John, patriarch of Antioch, who had been a bishop, had a dispute during many days with his bishops, and could not make peace with them; therefore he wrote letters to the prince. And he had written a synodical epistle, but had not been able to find means of sending it to Egypt |133 till this time. So when the messengers arrived, and the Father Abba Michael had received the synodical and other letters from them, he read them, and was greatly distressed by the disagreement between the patriarch and his bishops. For they said that he was a mere bishop and no patriarch, and that they had not been able to give him the title of patriarch in the days of Hishâm. Then Abba Michael summoned all the seniors among his bishops in the land of Egypt, and the letters were read to them. Thereupon they said : «We will not write a letter nor despatch it thither, for this is a difficult matter. If they desire to expel their patriarch, the prince will say to them : Nay, for he is a bishop. But if we write and advise them not to depose him, the bishops will be divided, as they have said in their letters. Rather leave the matter, Father, remaining as it was». And accordingly he did so.
Now I desire to record a little out of much that the Lord did by the hand of the bishop Abba Moses, and concerning the gift of prophecy and of the healing of diseases which he received from the Lord. Therefore believe my words with a pure heart!
We were travelling to Alexandria in order that the Father Abba Michael might take possession of the evangelical throne of Mark, and the holy synod disembarked on the way. When we walked through the Christ-loving |134 city of Wasîm, there was in the church a youth, who had been paralysed in his hands and feet from birth. He was now fifteen years old, and the martyr Saint George had appeared to him, and said : «Thou shalt not be healed except by the hand of the bishop, Abba Moses». So this youth came, and would have touched my father's garment; but the multitude around him prevented him. Therefore he cried, saying : «Make the sign of the cross, my Father, over my paralysed limbs». Then the bishop made the sign of the cross over his hands and feet, and we went on our way. But when we returned according to the will of God, that youth came out to meet us, walking and leaping with the people of the city, and recounting what had happened to him, and glorifying God, and thanking his good servant, the bishop. And this bishop also cleansed the lepers, and cast out devils, and did mighty works, like the Disciples.
Now there was in those days great trouble in the East on account of the bishops. Moreover at that time great hosts came against Marwân, and they met in battle; and much blood was shed among them. Then Abd al-Malik assembled the officers of his army at Misr, and imprisoned them for seven days, and also confined the secretaries of state, and the chiefs of the towns and superintendents of inherited property, and required them to send in their accounts, and to pay what they owed. Then he summoned the Father, Abba Michael, to Misr, in order that he might pay the taxes on his churches. But when we came before Abd al-Malik, he demanded of us |135 what we could not pay, and therefore he commanded that we should be put in prison, and that a great block of wood should be fastened to the patriarch's foot, and a heavy iron collar to his neck. And there was nobody with him except Abba Moses, bishop of Wasîm, and Abba Theodore, bishop of Misr, and Abba Elias Paul, son of Abba Moses in the Spirit. Then they put us into a dark chamber, where we could not see the sun, and which had no window, for it was hewn in the rock. And our father, the patriarch, was greatly tormented through being thus loaded with iron, from the 11th of Tût to the 12th of Babah, seeing no sunlight all that time. While he was in the prison, there were besides him three hundred men; and there were women also imprisoned, in greater straits than the men; and there was sadness and weeping, and much distress at the end of the day, when the governor of the prison shut the door upon us, and went away; and he did not return till the seventh hour of the day. The sick used to come to the patriarch in prison, that he might bless them, and then they rejoiced; and Christians and Muslims, and even Berbers, came to him, and confessed their sins which they had committed; and so did the prisoners, some of whom said that they had been in prison three years, and others four. And he consoled them and exhorted them to patience, saying to them : «If you vow to God that you will not return to your former deeds, God will |136 receive your repentance and save you before the end of this year». Then they swore to him that they would not return to their sins. And they were all accordingly rescued from prison before the end of the year by his prayers.
As for our fathers, the bishops, they could not change their garments nor their caps for the space of seventeen days, while they remained close by the father patriarch; for they were chained to him by their souls though not by iron. And the superintendent of the governor's table was a believer and a good man, who provided for the patriarch; and he used to visit us, and brought for us into the prison what we needed; while I, the sinner, was engaged in ministering to those three bloodless martyrs night and day.
And that year there had been a great pestilence among young infants at Misr, so that they all died. And while I was lying at the feet of the patriarch one night, and he was teaching me from the Scriptures, and answering all my questions about them, I asked him concerning the death of the infants. And I said to him : «Thinkest thou, Father, that God takes them on account of the sins of their parents or for some other cause?» Then he answered : «Do not suppose, my son, that this is the cause. But God beholds the human race, and sees that most of them do the will of |137 Satan by their vain devices, and that Hell is full and Paradise empty; and so he takes the infants who are without sin to Paradise, the place of mercy.» Then I asked him : «Why did God expel Satan from Heaven before he created the world or men?» He answered me : «O my son, who am I, the vile sinner, to deal with this problem, that thou shouldst question me about it?» But as I persisted all the more in questioning him on this subject, he said to me : «The holy Gregory Theologus says that Satan was, from the time when he was first created, in the habit of slandering his companions the angels before God; but God granted him a term of trial and was patient with him. Then when God created a new heaven and a new earth, and formed man in his own image and likeness 26, since it lay in God's foreknowledge that Satan loved pride, he bade him behold Adam and the beauty of his countenance. So Satan took with him the host over which God had made him leader, and went to the place where Adam was; and, when he saw it he was filled with admiration of it. And he said to his lollowers : I desire to set up for myself a throne upon the clouds, and the high mountains shall be beneath me, and I will be like the Most High; and the whole world shall be under my power, and I will rule over it. Then when he ascended again to heaven, God said to him : Admirest thou what thou hast seen, and art thou pleased with the world that has been created? For he knew his secret thoughts. Then God said to Satan : I have made |138 thee lord over the world. And God said this to Satan in order that he might not fall from the glory in which he was. But Satan kept evil in his heart, and in his thoughts there was wickedness; and after that he considered and said : I desire to know the nature of the Godhead, so that when I go down to the world I may act accordingly, and may no longer have need of God. For this was the design that Satan had conceived. And, wishing to behold the Godhead, he entered into the midst of the Angels suddenly; but God commanded ten thousand of the heavenly angelic Powers to cast him down to the lowest Hell in outer darkness, him and all his companions. This is what God revealed to Gregory Theologus, who wrote it down for us. Glory be to God for ever and ever. Amen».
Then I questioned the patriarch again, saying : «Will God have patience with these unbelieving rulers who commit these crimes against us at all times, and will not release us from these bonds?» He answered : «Be patient, my son, and be of good cheer. When we go forth from this place, we shall fall into worse misfortunes than this. Therefore be patient now, for none shall receive his reward without suffering; but he who endures to the end shall be saved. And thou wilt see what shall take place hereafter, for in these two rulers there is no good».
Then when seventeen days of the before mentioned month were over, while we were still in this distress, the governor commanded that he should be brought before him. So we came into his presence, and he demanded the money of the patriarch, saying to him : « None of thy |139 churches pays taxes, and I require of thee that which is rightfully due from them.» And he pressed him sorely. Then the patriarch answered : «If it he so, permit me to depart to Upper Egypt; and whatever the Christians may give me and supply me with I will bring to thee.» Then the governor released him, and we quitted his presence, and journeyed to Upper Egypt. At that time we suffered greatly from the cold; for there was hoar-frost at night, and heat in the day-time from the sun. And the people of Egypt had perished through oppression and poverty and taxation. And the father, Abba Michael, was fatigued during our journey, and suffered much. While we travelled, he healed many that were sick, merely by making the sign of the Gross; and he cast out unclean spirits from among the people,and converted many who had gone astray from the orthodox faith, for God helped him. Then we returned to Misr on the night of the 21st of Tubah, the night on which our Lady, the Virgin Mary, went to her rest. And that night there came great wrath from God, for there was a great earthquake in the land, and many houses were ruined in all the cities; and none was saved from them, not a single soul; and likewise on the sea many ships were sunk on that night. This happened all over the East, from the city of Gaza to the furthest extremity of Persia. And they counted the cities that were |140 wrecked that night, and they were six hundred cities and villages, with a vast destruction of men and beasts. But the land of Egypt was uninjured, except only Damietta. And at Misr there was only great fear, without any death or ruin of houses; for though the beams in the doorways and walls were moved out of their places, they went back again to their places after two hours. We were assured by one whose word we trust that none of the churches of the orthodox nor of their dwellings was destroyed throughout the East. But the father, Abba Michael, bade all the inhabitants of Misr and the neighbourhood prolong their fasting and prayers. So when the misbeliever, Abd al-Malik, saw what had taken place through the wrath of God, he accepted the alms given by the Christians to the patriarch, and released him.
Now I have omitted much without writing it down, that the history might not become too long and weary the reader, but I am constrained to record briefly a matter which must not be passed over. That is that there was at Dongola, a city of the Nubians, a king named Mercurius, who was called the New Constantine, for he became by his beautiful conduct like one of the Disciples; and the Lord gave him a son whom he named Zacharias. When king Mercurius died, Zacharias did not choose to become |141 king, but occupied himself with the word of God and the salvation of his soul, and gave up his rank as king, and appointed to the kingly office a kinsman of his named Simon, who was orthodox, and walked in the excellent path of Mercurius. When Simon died, Zacharias adopted a valiant youth attached to the palace, named Abraham, and made him king; but he was proud and wicked. And the bishop of the capital city used to warn him and instruct him, but he paid no heed to him, and therefore a dispute took place between the king and the bishop. So the king wrote a letter to the father patriarch, Abba Michael, in which he said with an oath : «If thou do not excommunicate Cyriacus, I will make all my country worship idols». For he had written concerning that bishop absurd calumnies and false testimonies. But when the patriarch had read this letter, he wrote letters of peace to the king. Yet the king was not satisfied, but wrote other letters worse than the first, full of false testimonies, and despatched them to Alexandria by Cyriacus, the holy bishop. So the father assembled the bishops, and formed a synod in the city of Alexandria. And when they had met together, he produced the letters, which were read aloud; but the bishops recognised that their allegations were absurd. Then indeed they spoke a word concerning the king of that country, fearing lest Satan should bring corruption upon it: and therefore they prayed the bishop Cyriacus to reside |142 in one of the monasteries of Alexandria, until the wrath of the king should subside; but he refused to do that. So, when they saw that he would not listen to them, they said : «Depart whithersoever thou wilt, in order to abide there.» But they would not allow him to celebrate the Liturgy in the churches of Egypt. And they ordained him whom the king had sent to them, a man named John, saying to Cyriacus : «If this matter is not from God, thou wilt see what will happen, and wilt return to thy see once more. For we have not removed thee from thy see by excommunication, but on account of the wickedness of the king, and his evil intentions».
But when they rose up to depart, each to his own place, there appeared a great wonder. For there was a great board over the throne of the patriarch, Abba Michael, on which was a painting of John Chrysostom; and, after the bishop had been removed from his see, the cords of the picture broke, and it fell into the midst of the bishops, and continued to move and leap until it had passed beyond them. Therefore they went and took it up, and restored it to its former place. Then it did the same thing a second and a third time; for as often as they hung it up it fell again, until it reached a certain place in the church and remained there. Now that bishop resembled the picture of John Chrysostom, for his cheeks were almost free from hair, so that he seemed to have no beard, and this was one of the characteristics of John Chrysostom's face. And the bishop Cyriacus was an old man, eighty |143 years of age on that day; and his appearance was like that of an angel of God. Then the bishops dispersed to their own districts; and Cyriacus departed to one of the monasteries of Nubia, while John, the new bishop, went to the capital city. Now trustworthy persons have testified to me that no rain fell upon that city during the remainder of the life of Cyriacus, the bishop, and that every year the people were visited by a pestilence, and that those who bore false witness against him were suddenly struck blind. And he lived to be one hundred and four years old. Then he prayed God to remove him from the body; and, when he was dead, the people of his country visited his tomb, and prayed him with many tears to beseech God to send down rain upon them; and this took place so that their country was fertilized, and the pestilence ceased from them.
So when king Zacharias saw these things, he banished king Abraham to an island in the midst of the river, and appointed a king named Mark instead of him; for Zacharias had been father of the kings up to this time. Then the friends of Mark went secretly with guile, to slay Abraham in his place of exile. But, when the partisans of king Abraham learnt this, they conspired against king Mark; and, while he was praying in the church before the sanctuary, they slew him, in the sixth month of his reign.
Then they set up a king named Cyriacus, an honest and virtuous man, who has remained king to the day on which I write this history. |144
Now letters had been sent to this king from Egypt, and had reached him while the father, Abba Michael, was in prison with us. And Abd al-Malik heard of these communications, and therefore he seized the patriarch, and kept him in custody. Then king Cyriacus marched forth from the land of the Nubians towards Egypt with a great army, including a hundred thousand horsemen, with a hundred thousand horses and a hundred thousand camels. And we were informed by one who had witnessed it with his own eyes that the horses which the Nubians rode used to fight with their forefeet and hindfeet in battle as their riders fought upon their backs, and that they were small horses, no higher than asses. And when they approached Misr that they might capture the city, and had encamped at the Pool known to this day as the Pool of the Ethiopians, they plundered and slew and made prisoners of the Muslims. And they had already treated the Muslims of Upper Egypt in like manner. And the king before he reached Misr had sent an envoy, called the Eparch, one of the great men of the kingdom, to Abd al-Malik, bidding him release the patriarch; but Abd al-Malik seized that envoy and imprisoned him with the patriarch. But when the governor heard of the arrival of the king before Misr, not having any means of resisting him, and being, greatly afraid of him, he released his envoy, the Eparch, from prison. So the latter went forth to meet the king, having, previously made an engagement with Abd al-Malik, and sworn to |145 induce the king to return with his army to his own country, and not to let him approach his fortresses nor besiege him. Now the Muslims were in the habit of kidnapping the Nubians, and selling them as slaves in Egypt. So the king, after carrying off much plunder from the Muslims, led back his army, because the Eparch informed him that the patriarch had been released, and had been kindly treated by Abd al-Malik, and himself bade the Nubians return homewards with his blessing.
Now many of the tribe of Al-Kais worshipped an idol named Salkit, and therefore the king of the Nubians conquered them and plundered them, and his army carried off the booty which they had taken from them. Then Abd al-Malik sent to the patriarch, bidding him write to the king of the Nubians. So Abba Michael wrote letters of peace to Cyriacus, in which he prayed for him, and blessed him and his followers; and the king returned without fighting a battle. Now these events took place in the hundred and thirtieth year after the foundation of the empire of the Muslims. And there were under the supremacy of Cyriacus, king of the Nubians, thirteen kings, ruling the kingdom and the country. He was the orthodox Ethiopian king of Al-Mukurrah; and he was entitled the Great King, upon whom the |146 crown descended from Heaven; and he governed as far as the southern extremities of the earth, for he is the Greek king, fourth 27 of the kings of the earth; and none of the other kingdoms stands up against him, but their kings attend him when he passes through their territory. And he is under the jurisdiction of Mark the Evangelist, for the patriarch of the Jacobites in Egypt exercises authority over him, and over all the kings of the Abyssinians and the Nubians; and he has in his country an orthodox bishop whom the patriarch ordains as metropolitan, and who ordains for the king the bishops and the priests in that land. And when the metropolitan dies, the patriarch of Alexandria appoints another for him, whom he chooses, and ordains him for that people.
Now when we came out of prison, many people came together to us, and prayed the father patriarch to celebrate the Liturgy for them, and to give them with his holy hand the communion of the Body and the Precious Blood. So they conducted him to the church of the two Martyrs, Sergius and Bacchus ; and he celebrated the Liturgy for them that day, and communicated to them the Holy Mysteries, and gave them an exhortation and instruction |147 And there came a man seeking to communicate, as soon as the brethren began to make their communion; but the patriarch refused him, and, though he returned, would not give him the oblation. And when. Abba Michael had dismissed the congregation, and sent the people away in peace, that man appeared before the father, weeping, and said : «I desire thee, Father, to tell me for what cause thou didst refuse me communion». The spiritual father answered and said to him : «My son, I also am a sinner. None but the Lord Christ refused thee communion. He it was who forbad thee to receive it. Therefore declare now what thou hast done in the midst of this assembly of thy brethren, lest any of them do like thee». Then that man cried aloud, saying : «I pray thee, my Lord and Father, if it was a sin which I committed, forgive it me, for I will not be guilty of it again». The father said to him : «Thou must confess it». So he said to him : «I have been accustomed to break my fast in my own house, and to come after my breakfast to the church to communicate. Thus I did to-day. And afterwards when I heard that thou wouldst give communion to thy people, I said in my heart : I will go and receive the communion from his holy hand. And I did so out of love for thee in my humility. Now I have declared this to thee who didst refuse me. But in Upper Egypt there are many who do this without knowing that it is a sin». When the Father heard that, he commanded that letters should be written to every place, ordering that none of the faithful should communicate unless fasting, and that none should make |148 his communion twice in one day ». Then he gave his blessing to that man, who departed glorifying God, who does wonders by his saints.
But Egypt found no tranquillity nor rest during the government of Abd al-Malik, for not one of the family of the princes of the Ishmaelites who ruled over them was like him. And he did to the monasteries what was not lawful, because he hated the Christians; for as he pleased to do, so he did. Yet the Lord Christ, in whose hand are the hearts of princes, turned his heart to love Abba Michael the patriarch; therefore he invited him to his palace, and we accompanied him; and he begged the patriarch to pray for him. And the governor's daughter, who was four years old, was possessed by an unclean spirit, and so her father requested the patriarch to pray over her. Then Abba Michael took oil, and blessed it, and anointed her with it; and the devil went out of her immediately. Thus the governor began to love the Christians, because he loved the father patriarch; and he also loved the bishops, and showed them honour.
Now our father, Abba Michael, was sweet in speech, beautiful in countenance, perfect in stature, decent in his attire, well-formed and dignified; and his words were like a sword against the rebellious, and his teaching was like salt to people of virtue and modesty. And the hand of God was with him in those hardships which he endured through Abd al-Malik. And |149 the church at Alexandria had suffered greatly in the time of the late patriarch Alexander, when its marble and glorious woodwork, which were priceless, were taken away from it. So the Father Michael provided money for it, and restored it, and improved it. And he built other churches to the east and west of the town, and his buildings were completed in his lifetime.
And on a certain day the governor of Alexandria desired to launch the ships of the fleet on the sea. And there was a congregation of the orthodox in the Church of our Lady Mary, of about ten thousand persons. And a young man of the Muslims saw, painted on the wall, a picture of the Lord Christ upon the Cross, while the soldier with the spear was piercing his side. So he said to the Christians, tempting them : «What is this man upon the Cross?» They answered : «This is the sign of our God Christ, who died upon the Cross for the salvation of the world.» Thereupon that young man took a rod, and mounted to the upper gallery, and pierced the picture in the other side, namely the left, mocking and blaspheming at the Christian's words. And immediately the form of the young man became stretched, as if he were himself crucified, after the likeness of the picture which he had pierced, and a great pain seized him, as if he had been pierced in the side in like manner, and his hand clove to the rod with which he had pierced it, and no man could take it out of his hand; and he remained fixed in the midst of the congregation, between heaven and |150 earth. So he continued all day, crying aloud : «O ye people, I am pierced in the side.» Then the Muslims cried to the Christians with a loud voice, glorifying God, the doer of wonders, and begged them to pray to God for the man's release. So the Christians prayed, saying Kyrie eleison many times. But that young man could not descend from the place where he was, until one of the Muslims said to him : «Verily unless thou shalt confess the faith of the Christians, and say that this picture is the likeness of Christ, the Son of God, and profess their creed, and believe like them, he will never let thee come down.» Then he accepted the words of that Muslim, and confessed that it was the picture of Christ, and said : «I am a Christian, and will die in the religion of Christ.» After that confession he descended into the midst of the assembly, and departed to the monasteries, and was baptized there.
Now the prince at that time was Marwân, who ruled from Persia to Spain. His hand was very heavy upon his soldiers, and for a time the Muslims fought one against the other, and shed one another's blood, so that on one day twenty thousand or thirty thousand or even seventy thousand were slain. And they did not cease from war during the seven years of Marwân's reign, because he had usurped the government over them. And in the seventh year a young man named Abd Allah had a dream, in which the |151 voice of a certain one said to him three times : «Fight against Marwân, fight. By God thou wilt overcome him.» This young man, Abd Allah, was a Bedouin, and lived in tents in the desert; and his father was an old man, named Abu Muslim, to whom the same vision came in a dream as to the young man, Abd Allah; and the old man wrote an account of the dream, and fastened it on the door of his tent. Therefore, when the Muslims saw it, they came together to him in order to know what had happened; and, when he told them, they said : «We will help thee; and, if God shall give thee the victory, we will make thee prince over us.» Accordingly, many of the tribes assembled to him, when they heard of this; and twenty thousand horsemen gathered together with him. But they had no weapons, and so they cut branches from the palm-trees, and fastened spear-heads to them, and went forth to fight, the power of God being with them. Thereupon Marwân came out against them, accompanied by a hundred thousand fighting men, well equipped, and provided with weapons and coats of mail and helmets; and the two armies met. Then Abd Allah divided his army into two parts; and when Manvan saw them, he said, as Goliath the giant said to David 28 : «Hast thou come out to meet me like a dog?» Then Marwân sent out against Abd Allah forty thousand horsemen in many-coloured |152 garments, wearing cuirasses and iron armour, whereas most of Abd Allah's soldiers were footmen. Yet Abd Allah's men slew Marwân's men with God's help, so that not one of them was saved; for God gave to the former the victory over the latter, as the prophet Moses says 29 : «One man, if God helps him, shall put to flight a thousand, and two shall terrify a host.»
And Abu Muslim saw the angel of the Lord, with a golden rod in his hand, on the top of which was a Cross, putting his enemies to flight; for, wherever the Cross approached, he saw them fall dead before it. So the followers of Abd Allah and Abu Muslim took the horses and weapons of the enemy.
Then Marwân again sent another forty thousand horsemen against them, at the fourth hour of the day, from behind rocks; but God delivered them into their hands, and they captured their horses and weapons. So, when Marwân saw that, he fled. And he executed the following stratagem. He brought out what he possessed of money and vessels and furniture, and put the gold in bags, and scattered it along the road, while he was fleeing, accompanied by twenty thousand horsemen, who remained with him. But Abd Allah and Abu Muslim did not understand his deceit, and so, as they pursued him, they busied themselves with seizing the money and the weapons for seven days, so that Marwân escaped and crossed the Euphrates. |153 But many of his followers were drowned, and he set fire to the boats, and none reached the shore but he and eight thousand men with him.
So the old man Abu Muslim bade his soldiers make crosses of every kind, and place them on their breasts, saying to them : «By means of this sign God has given us the victory, and it has conquered the empire for us.» And his followers multiplied, for men came to them from every place at which they arrived : from Khorassan and Sidon and the Euphrates and the land of the Romans; and all that heard of them in distant lands. And at every city which they captured, their followers established a camp.
But as for Marwân, he set fire to every place that he reached in his flight, When Abu Muslim and Abd Allah came to the Euphrates, and saw the burnt boats, they put on black garments, and left their heads unshaven, and neglected their wives, and continued to fast and pray for six months, until God gave their enemy into their hands. Then they took the boats that they could get, and crossed the Euphrates, and pursued Marwân. And when they reached a place where there were Christians, they marked it out by the sign of the Cross, which they also had marked on their tents and garments. And the Muslims among them wore black garments. And him who was without these two signs they put to death, because the followers of Marwân were Persians, and therefore did not approve of these things. And so, when they found them, they killed them, |154 and ripped them open. And they used to rip open their pregnant wives, and kill the babes, saying : «We will leave them no offspring on earth to go about the world as beggars.»
Then Marwân went into the public treasury at Damascus, for that was the capital of the Omeyyads, and brought forth much money and jewels and treasures, and burnt the rest with fire. And he went on doing thus, till he had laid waste seven provinces with fire. When Abd al-Malik, the governor of Egypt, heard the news, he feared that Marwân would summon him to fight, and therefore he wrote to him a letter with guile, inviting him to Egypt, and saying : «Thy enemies cannot enter this country.»
Accordingly, Marwân marched thither, slaying the chiefs of the towns and provinces through which he passed, and seizing their money. So also he did in the monasteries of the monks, which he wrecked and robbed of their money. And there was in Palestine a clean and decent monastery, which entertained thousands of travellers, and contained a thousand monks; and it was called Dair Mût, and in Coptic, the Monastery of Abba Harmanus. Maximus and his brother Domitius were first received here; and it was Abba Harmanus who took the Tome of Leo, and went to the tombs of his fathers, accompanied by the soldiers of the prince, and cried over their tombs with a loud voice, saying : «Think not that you are asleep, and that this does not concern you! As the Lord lives, if you answer me not, I will |155 take out your bones and burn them with fire. Tell me what you think. Shall I receive the Tome of Leo, or the Faith of Nicaea? Tell me plainly and speedily.» Then they all answered with one voice, crying and saying: «Cursed be Leo, the misbeliever, the soul-devouring lion, and his foul Tome! And cursed be Marcian, the misbeliever, and the vile Pulcheria! And cursed be the Council of Chalcedon, the six hundred and thirty heretical bishops; and cursed be all that receive them. And cursed be those that make Christ the Son of God into Two Natures after the Union.» So, when the blessed Abba Harmanus heard this, he fell upon the ground. And when the noble who brought the Tome saw him, and heard their words addressed to him, he shaved his head, and became a monk with many others. Afterwards this saint was counted worthy of martyrdom; for when Marcian, the prince, was informed of what he had done, he sent and put him to death. And since that time there has been a body of the orthodox remaining in that glorious monastery. So when Marwân arrived at the aforesaid monastery, he demanded of them a sum of money amounting to three weights; and he severely chastised the superior of the monastery and his assistant, for he killed those two; and he plundered the monastery, and continued his march, accompanied by his army. Then, when they were at a short distance from the monastery, there was a hermit upon a pillar, a very old man, who had been there many years, an orthodox Theodosian. |156 So one of Marwân's friends said : «Verily all that this old monk says comes to pass, for he speaks the truth.» And he came up to that hermit, and asked him what would be his fate. So the old man said in a low voice, like the voice of Jeremias the prophet 30 : «If I tell thee the truth, thou wilt slay me; yet will I declare what God has revealed to me. That which God has told me of thee is this. With the measure with which thou hast measured it shall be measured to thee. As thou hast made mothers childless, so shall thy mother be childless. And thy path shall be very terrible to all that behold thee; for thy children and thy wives and all that are thine shall be taken captive; and he who is now pursuing thee shall take thy empire, and none of thy family shall reign after thee for ever. And thine enemies shall put thee to flight, until thou comest to Arsinoites, to Cleopatra. All this shall befall thee this year in the month of Misri.» When Marwân heard this, he commanded that the pillar should be overthrown; and he brought down the old man, and burnt him alive in the fire.
Then Marwân arrived in Egypt on the twentieth day of the month of Baunah, in the year 467 of the Martyrs. And before these things happened, some of the Bashmurites had rebelled against Abd al-Malik, under their |157 leader Mennas, son of Apacyrus, besides other insurgents, inhabitants of Shubrâ near Sanbat. And they seized that province, and refused to pay taxes to Abd al-Malik or to the chief of the Divân of Misr; and at last the Lord visited them, and gave them the victory. For Abd al-Malik brought out an army against them, but they put him to flight by the power of God, and slew his soldiers with the edge of the sword. And he despatched another army, and a fleet of ships on the river, and by the power of God they put all his men to flight or slew them. And when Marwân reached Egypt, all this was made known to him. So he wrote letters and a decree of pardon for those rebels; but as they would not accept him, he despatched against them a great army of Egyptian Muslims, and of those who came in his company from Syria. But this army could not reach them at all, because they fortified themselves in marshy places, which could only he approached by men marching in single file; and if a man's foot slipped from the path, he would sink into the mud and perish. And as the troops watched the Bashmurites from a distance, the latter marched out against them at night by ways which they knew, and took the soldiers by surprise, and killed those whom they could, and carried off their goods and their horses; and as the troops grew tired of these attacks, they marched away and left them. |158
Then Abd Allah, the prince, arrived with a great army in the province of Damascus, and divided his troops between two brave commanders, one of whom was named Sâlih, son of Ali, and the other Abu Aun, his friend, saying to them : «If you shall find Marwân and capture him, I will promote you two to be princes; and to Abu Aun I will give Egypt.» Then he sent with Sâlih sixty thousand horsemen and sixty captains; and he gave to Abu Aun forty thousand horsemen and four hundred officers. So the two arrived at Damascus, the governor of which was Marwân's son-in-law, having married his eldest daughter; but, as he submitted to them, they retained him in office. Then they marched on to Egypt. When they arrived at Gaza, the inhabitants told them : «The people of Damascus have not put on the black, nor remained obedient to you.» So they returned in wrath, and slew a great number of the chiefs of the people of Damascus, and killed the governor, Marwân's son-in-law, and took the daughter of Marwân prisoner. And when the news reached Marwân, he reviewed his troops, and found that those who had come with him were eight thousand in number. Then he gave orders to his subjects, the natives of the land, saying : «If any of the people of Egypt refuse to enter into my religion, and to pray as I do, and to adopt my creed, I will slay him and impale his body. But whoever shall enter with me into my religion I will clothe with a robe of honour, and I will mount him upon a horse, and will place his name in my |159 Divân, and make him rich.» In consequence of these words he was soon followed by a thousand persons, who recited his prayer; and accordingly he gave to each one ten dinars. Then two thousand Muslims of Egypt joined him, besides those whom he had released from prison, and those who served him of the troops of the army of the empire. And he sent his sister's son to Alexandria, accompanied by one of the chiefs of his army, and commanded him to enlist the Ishmaelites, on condition that they recited his prayer. For there was at Alexandria a chief man and leader of the Muslims, named Al-Aswâd, to whom many men had gathered while the Muslims were fighting the Romans; and Marwân had commanded those whom he sent thither to kill him and ten of his officers, because he had not come to him at Misr; but Al-Aswâd had a friend at Misr in attendance on Marwân and an associate of his, who heard of this and wrote to Al-Aswâd to make known to him what had been done, before those men arrived at Alexandria. When the Alexandrians learnt what Marwân intended, they swore fidelity to Al-Aswâd; and he and they became of one heart, and so when Marwân's envoy and his companions arrived, the Alexandrians arrested them, and cast them into prison. Al-Aswâd gathered a large body, from Alexandria and Maryût and Al-Buhairah, of Muslims who lived in those districts, and placed them outside the wall of Alexandria to keep the roads. Therefore when Marwân was informed, he sent a great army under an Amir and |160 chief, named Kauzârâ, who was like a wild beast in form and character, and of great courage, and with him were five hundred fighting men; and Marwân commanded them to lay Alexandria waste. So they encamped at a place named Bakûm at a distance from Alexandria. When Al-Aswâd heard this, he sent against them his brother and five hundred men with him, to reconnoitre; and when Marwân's followers saw them, they thought that they were an army from the town, and that there was none left therein who would fight them except these. So they rose up against them, and killed most of them, and the remainder fled and returned to the city, while the enemy pursued them. When they reached Al-Aswâd and his companions, they cried saving : «Our city is taken.» So they all fled, their number being thirty thousand, and Al-Aswâd escaped and hid himself. And Marwân's army entered the city with Kauzârâ, and took possession of it, and killed many of the inhabitants, and plundered its officials, and their children and wives were taken prisoners, and their goods were seized. And the Father Abba Michael was captured; and Kauzârâ said to him : «How couldst thou permit thy children, the Christians, to fight against us?» By this he meant the Bashmurites. And he reproved the patriarch with many words, and demanded money of him. But, as Abba Michael had nothing, he put him in prison, and fastened a mass of iron to his feet. And. the patriarch's |161 disciples and some of his priests had fled on account of what had happened at Alexandria, and none remained save Abba Mennas, the priest, who was the oeconomus of the church of Saint Mark the Evangelist and Disciple, and Valentinus, the deacon and secretary of the Cell, and Bartholomew, the monk of Samannûd; for they were bound together with Abba Michael. Then Kauzârâ also seized Cosmas, patriarch of the Melkites, and put his feet in the stocks, together with the feet of our father and patriarch. But after five days, Cosmas raised from his congregation and his church the sum of a thousand dinars, and paid them to Kauzârâ, who thereupon released him. And Kauzârâ sent to our father, and said to him : «Do likewise, and I will release thee.» But he answered : «There is nothing in my church; therefore I give myself instead of the money, and thou must do with me what thou wilt.» Then he pressed him sore, till the end of nine days. After that he sent for him, and laid his hand upon him, and dragged him on his face, and threw him on his knees. And there was a rod in his hand, so he struck him with it two hundred times on his head with all his might and main. But the Lord Christ was Abba Michael's helper and protected him, so that he suffered no hurt. Then Kauzârâ commanded that the patriarch's head should be cut off; and they dragged him along like a dumb sheep. And when they had gone a short distance from that misbeliever, Abba Michael drew down his cap over his face, so that his head might be taken off, and then he readily with joy stretched out his neck. |162
And the swordsman put forth his hand, and drew his sword, and cried, saying : «Shall I take off his head?» For it was according to custom that he should ask permission three times. And, when he asked permission for the second time, the Amir gave it to him. Then God put a thought into Kauzârâ's heart, and he said : «How does it profit us to kill this old man? For he forbad the Bashmurites to fight with us, and wrote to them, but they would not listen to him. Rather let us carry him with us to Rosetta, and make him write to them again, and tell them that all that which has happened to him is on their account.» So Kauzârâ commanded that the patriarch should be released.
When the Bashmurites heard of these events, they attacked those who were besieging them, and slew them or routed them, they being at a distance of a two days journey. And those who escaped death went to Marwân, and made known to him what had happened to them. And when Marwân learnt that his enemies were coming after him, and had killed his son-in-law, his daughter's husband, the governor of Damascus, he sent a letter by those who had fled to him in order to escape from the Bashmurites, saying to his followers : «Come to me speedily, for I have need of you. And pillage every town that you reach, and slay the inhabitants». Therefore those miscreants marched into Upper Egypt, and killed many of the officials, and carried off their goods, and took captive their wives and servants and children. And they burnt the monasteries of the monks, and carried off the |163 nuns, until they came to the Eastern district. And there was in those parts a convent of nuns, virgins who lived there as the brides of Christ, thirty in number. So Marwân's troops took them prisoners. And there was among them a young maiden, who had entered the convent when she was three years old; and when they saw her they marvelled at her beauty, saying : «We have never beheld among human beings a form like hers.» So they took her, and removed her from the midst of her sisters, and consulted together as to what they should do with regard to her, some saying : «Let us cast lots for her,» and others : «Let us take her to the prince.» And, while they were saying these things, the maiden asked of them : «Where is your leader, that I may let him know of something that is worth money, so that you may let me go? For I am a servant of God, and it is not lawful for you to profane my service. But, if I make known to you that thing by which you shall gain money, you will send me back to my convent.» So their commander answered her, saying : «I am he.» She said to him : «My fathers were fighting men, brave and strong, and gave me a medicament, with which they used to anoint themselves when they went out to fight, so that iron did them no hurt, but swords and spears became like wax candles before them. If then thou wilt let me go free, I will give this drug to thee. And if thou dost not believe my words, I will anoint my neck in thy presence; then bring the best sword that thy men have, and let the strongest among them strike me, and I shall not be cut at |164 all, so that thou mayest know the truth of my words. » But she only said this because she desired to die by the sword, that she might not be contaminated by the defilements of those miscreants, nor her pure body be: polluted by them. Then she entered her chamber, and brought out a phial containing oil, which the holy men had blessed, and which was preserved in her possession; and she anointed her neck and face and all her body with it, and prayed kneeling upon her knees, and stretched out her neck. So those ignorant men thought that the thing was true, and knew not what was in her heart. Then she said to them : «Let him that is strong among you, and has a sharp sword, display his strength upon me; for you will see the glory of God in this medicament.» Thereupon a young man sprang forward with a sword of which he was proud. And she covered her face with her pallium, and laid down her head, saying : «Strike with all thy. might, and spare not.» So he struck at the holy martyr, and her head fell. Then they recognised what her aim had been, and that she had eluded them; and so they repented and were exceedingly sad, and great fear overwhelmed them. And after her they touched no more of the nuns and virgins, but left them in peace and departed glorifying God.
Then Marwân wrote to Kauzârâ, whom he had despatched to |165 Alexandria, bidding him hasten to him without delay; but, when he reached Rosetta, he was informed that the Bashmurites had slain the Muslims in the town and laid it waste, and burnt it with fire, and also that the enemy was at hand. So he delivered the father patriarch to one of the officers, that he might conduct him to Marwân. Then I journeyed and informed my father, Abba Moses, of what had taken place, on account of the power of prophecy which God had given him, and the miracles which he worked. Therefore ye must believe truly in that which I am about to say, for I saw it with my own eyes. That is that before Marwân came to Egypt, and before there was any fighting there, Abba Moses had made known, by revelation from God, what would become of the princes, and what would happen to the churches and faithful people of Christ. For it was said to him in vision : «Prepare, for thou wilt be with the fathers in the battle.» And that year he multiplied his prayers and devotions and sleepings upon the ground day and night, and his continuance in prayer and sadness and weeping and copious tears. So when I, the sinner, saw him, I begged and implored him to tell me the cause of his doing thus with himself. Now that holy father hated vain glory, and he said to me : «O my son, my sins are many; and, when I remember them, I weep and repent, and offer prayers to God, praying to him for pardon.» But since I, the sinner, enjoyed some freedom with Abba Moses, because I attended him night and day, |166 I grasped his feet and kissed them, and my tears ran over them, and I said : «I will not rise nor lift my face until thou shalt make known to me the truth of this matter.» So he answered : «If thou must know, thou also wilt share my lot with me; ---- for none will be safe in the days of this government; ---- above all in the harm that the people will do to the Church. But I know that the Lord Christ will not abandon her finally, but that she will be delivered from her trouble. For this government will perish with all its armies, and there will be a new government after it.» Thus I heard much from him of these and other matters. And I know that every word he said was true and is fulfilled in its season; and I continued to meditate on this and what would come after it. And after that day, Marwân and his government were driven out, and he came to Egypt, as has been related. For I was pondering and wondering what would happen to the Church of God in the time of peace and prosperity, and other things; and while he was conversing with me, behold, the father patriarch arrived, escorted by the soldiers, at the door of the holy church in the city of Wasîm, on the morning of Sunday, the 10th of Abîb. When my holy father Moses saw them, he said to me : «My son, this day which I was expecting, and of which I spoke to thee, has arrived, and seeing is better than hearing. Now therefore let him who is willing to give up his life follow me. I rejoice to day, because |167 I have long desired this, although I confess that I am not worthy to shed my impure blood in return for the pure blood shed for us. But great is the sadness in my heart, because the generation of the saints is scattered, and we are become exceedingly poor, since we cannot find a man to share with us in this ministry, as I bore witness at the time of the synod.» And my father Moses, in spite of his fasting and prayer and virtue, said : «Woe to me, the sinner! I believe that Christ will not forsake me, but will help me.» After this the soldiers began to molest us. Then we received the holy communion from the hand of the glorious father, Abba Michael, the holy patriarch and chosen martyr. Meanwhile we saw flames ascending from Al-Fustât; and we were informed that Marwân had set fire to the storehouses ot provisions and cotton and straw and to the supplies of barley. So, when the soldiers learnt this, they troubled us much, and cried out upon us with great indignation. And my father Moses laid his arm on mine, and put on an outer garment, and I supported him, and he left all that was in his church, and went out. And there was not one of the bishops or ecclesiastics with the patriarch save me alone and one reader of the church of Saint Macarius, named James, a native of Bilbais.
Now Marwân had commanded that the trumpet should be sounded at Misr, and a proclamation made during three days, saying : «If after three |168 days I find man or beast remaining in Misr, I will put that man or that beast to death, for I will set fire to the whole city of Al-Fustât.» So all the people passed over to Al-Gizah and the Island and other parts, escaping in the boats; even the carefully guarded girls, who had never been out of doors, went away with their families; and the people left all their goods behind. And the caliph caused Misr to be set on fire from the south to the north, until it reached the Great Mosque of the Muslims. And a countless number of men and beasts were drowned in the river, because they could find none to carry them across, when they fled from the fire. For brother fled from brother, and friend from friend; and the blind found none to lead him; and the cripple and the paralytic and the sick and the old man about to die and the aged woman unable to move, ---- all these were burnt in the fire. And people were lying in the streets and lanes and gardens in the district of Al-Gizah like corpses, in consequence of all that they had suffered in their great misery and hunger and thirst. And they found no food on account of the multitude of people; for Marwân had burnt the supplies of provisions in Misr. So the soldiers went to Kauzârâ, whose name in another copy is |169 Hautharah, and reported our arrival to him; and he commanded a man named Azrak to take charge of us, until he should settle what was to be done. At that time Marwân was informed that his enemies, the Khorassanians, had arrived at Al-Faramâ. So he sent troops in boats to the north to every district, that they might burn all the boats that they found on the river; and this purpose they carried out. And he despatched other troops by land, with orders to burn the cities and villages and vineyards and water-wheels and every thing that they could find. So they marched on till they reached Atrib, which they were minded to burn. And there were there five streams of water running westwards, besides canals flowing from the river called Gehon 31, which is the River Nile. And Marwân thought that he could remain on the western side of the Nile, while the Khorassanians were on the eastern bank, and that, when they found the country laid waste, they would retire, because it was empty of men and beasts and provisions and stores, and that they would not find in the land anything to repay their trouble, nor boats by which they might cross over to him, and so that they would not remain there, but would turn upon their heels. But afterwards he learnt that his enemies were approaching near, and that there were fords in the river by which they might reach him. And when this was made known to him, he sent a messenger to bring back those whom he had despatched to Atrib; and therefore they did not burn that town, because they returned speedily to |170 him. And on the 18th of Abîb, in the year 470 of the Martyrs, Marwân burnt a fort at Misr on that night. For he crossed in the boats, he and all his army, and encamped on the bank of the river until he had burnt the fort. But he did not burn the boats which were with him on the western bank. And when the soldiers came to him every day, he said to them : «Take care of the boats.» And wherever he marched he took us about with him, we being in great distress through the multitude of people and beasts, and the crowd and throng.
And at sunset, on the 18th of Abîb, the Khorassanians reached Misr, and he beheld them from the western bank; and he commanded his followers to assemble that night. The Khorassanians marched into Misr next day, heaping foul insults upon Marwân and his sons. These strangers formed a vast host, and they pitched their tents to the north of Al-Fustât, at a place called the Stable; and their camp extended from that spot to the mountains. Thus their vanguard were on the bank of the Nile, while their rearguard reached from Al-Faramâ to Gaza; for these who had arrived at Misr were their scouts.
When Marwân encamped for a time during the night of the 20th of Abîb, being then on the march, he ordered that we should be brought before him; for he was filled with anger and wrath against us on account of what |171 Hautharah had told him of us. How great were the grief and the anxiety which settled upon us at that hour! When I think upon what took place, I fear and tremble for those who would not weep if they beheld what happened to us, nor grieve for what we underwent. For the words of David the Prophet, in the 37th Psalm, were fulfilled upon us, where he says 32 : «My acquaintances stood far from me.» All the disciples that had been around us fled with the others, and none remained with us save the priest Mennas, archpriest of the church of Saint Sergius, and the hegumen Theodore, who was afterwards counted worthy to be made a bishop, and the deacon who was the patriarch's secretary, because he had been at Misr. These had left their wives and children and goods, and followed us, saying : «We will die with you.» So, when the Father Michael saw the goodness of their thoughts, he blessed them, and bade them return and not follow us, but this they would not do; and they continued to march with us. And I was wearing the habit of the monks, although unworthy. And my Father Moses, the bishop, took the father's left arm, and I took his right arm.
And when we arrived at Marwân's tent, the swordsman came out to us, and he was very terrible; and he conducted us within by order of the prince. So when Marwân beheld us, he said : «Which of you is the patriarch?» |172 When he was told which was he, he commanded that they should bring the patriarch forward before him; and they delivered my father to soldiers who were devourers of men's flesh; but they set us apart on one side. Then the father, Abba Moses, was thrown upon his knees, and they lifted up his feet, and beat him with brazen clubs upon his sides and neck, saying to him : «Give us money, and we will release thee.» But he answered not a word, for he knew not what they said to him, except what I understood of their words, and repeated to him word by word. And he was prostrate on the ground, thanking God and praying him to make him worthy to suffer for the Church of God. And the officer did not address a single syllable to me, for they considered my dress disgraceful. Now the holy father, Abba Michael, the patriarch, was standing with his face towards Marwân, whose eyes were turned towards Misr, where he saw his enemies; while the Khorassanians were looking in his direction, and all the people of Misr on the bank of the Nile were insulting Marwân, as we said before. And behold, one of the Khorassanians shot an arrow towards the western bank, while we were looking at him. And those that were left of the Christians at Misr said to the Khorassanians : «There is our father, the patriarch, standing before Marwân, the misbeliever; and we know not what he will do with him.» The Bashmurites also had met the Khorassanians at Al-Faramâ and said to them : «Marwân has seized our patriarch, with intent to kill |173 him, because we fought against the prince, and slew his soldiers before you came.» Meanwhile Hautharah, the misbeliever, was with Marwân, and was saying to him : «This patriarch said : Be of good courage, for God will take away the government from Marwân, and deliver it to his enemies.» And many words like this were uttered by him. So when Marwân heard these accusations, his interpreter said to the father patriarch : «Art thou the patriarch of Alexandria?» For that was Marwân's question. Abba Michael answered : «Yea, I am thy servant.» And I heard him say this, because I was near him. So Marwân said to him : «Tell me, art thou the chief of the enemies of our religion?» Then the holy patriarch answered and said : «I am not the chief of wicked men, but of good men; and my people do not work evil, but they have been ruined by troubles, so that they have even been forced to offer their children for sale.» After that, I did not hear another word from his mouth. Then Marwân commanded the officials who were holding him to stretch forth their hands to him forthwith, and pull out the hair of his beard from his cheeks; and they cast his hair into the river, and I saw it with my own eyes floating on the water. Now his beard had been full and handsome, flowing over his breast like the beard of Jacob Israel. And the Khorassanians on the eastern bank were observing what Marwân did to the patriarch; and if they had found means of crossing over |174 to Marwân, they would have killed him because of the tyranny and hardness of heart which they saw in him; but they could not find any boats at all in which to cross. The river, however, did not rise at all before the 1st of Misri; and the western branch had sunk so low as to be without water; and in the other branch, namely the eastern, there were a few places that could be forded, but the Khorassanians did not know them; and Marwân guarded them because he knew of them; and no boat from the western bank approached Misr.
The sixth hour passed that day while the father patriarch was standing before Marwân beardless with bare cheeks. And while my father Moses was all the time undergoing the torments which we have mentioned before, the Lord opened the eyes of his heart, and he beheld the two martyrs, Sergius and Bacchus, with the grace of God surrounding them, in the likeness of two horsemen of the army of the prince; and they crossed the river, riding their horses, while no man saw them but he alone, until they stood opposite to Marwân, and said to him : «Why dost thou sit here paralysed, when thine enemies have crossed over to the west?» But no man beheld those two, except my father, the bishop Abba Moses, and Marwân, and no other. For the father patriarch was still in the hands of the officials, and they were tormenting him. Then the two holy martyrs disappeared. |175
And Marwân forthwith broke up his camp, and commanded the troops to follow him, ordering that we should be kept till the morrow. Thus we remained the rest of that day on the bank of the river, exposed to the sun, in consequence of the command which the caliph had given to the soldiers, until I thought that my father would not live till sunset, after the severe torment which they had inflicted upon him. Then, on the morrow early, we were visited by bishops, and monks from Wadî Habîb, who had come to see what had been done to us; and subsequently they remained with us. Then Marwân appeared, for he was riding; and he took his seat, and commanded that we should be brought before him early in the morning. So when the sun rose he summoned a swordsman, and sent for our father, Abba Michael, alone, that the officer might bring him into his presence. Accordingly the swordsman took his hand and led him in, saying to us : «Stand here till he calls you». But my father, Abba Moses, cried out, saymg : «As the Lord lives, I will never be separated from my father, but will follow him whithersoever they take him!» Then I also hastened with them, in order to find out what would become of them. But, when the swordsman saw me, he said : «The prince ordered that the patriarch alone should enter.» The bishop said to him : «I have told thee that I cannot |176 be separated at all from my father, for I only came here for his sake; therefore do whatever thou desirest, but I will never be parted from him.» Then the swordsman was angry and said to him in fury : «It is not lawful to disobey the prince; yet thou wilt not hearken». Now he had in his hand a brazen club, which weighed twenty pounds, and he raised it to strike my father upon the head; and he offered his head to him. But when he was about to strike him, a body of his companions, who were in attendance, cried out upon him, and would not let him strike. And all the soldiers said in their language and speech : «Verily what an excellent servant this bishop is to his master!» Then there came a messenger saying : «Bring them all in, for the prince summons them.» So we all entered; and found Marwân sitting on the bank of the river. Then first the blessed father went forward alone, as Marwân ordered; and the prince made him stand before him all that day for about ten hours, confronting him ; but the patriarch's heart was with Christ, while his hands were stretched out, and his very limbs seemed to pray; and he made the sign of the cross over his face, without fear of the prince who hated the sign of the cross. And the caliph did not address a single word to him; and there were around him many drawn swords and weapons of war. |177
As for us, Marwân commanded his men to set us on his left hand in a place apart; and again he ordered that we should be brought forward and delivered to certain soldiers, other than those who had conducted us from Alexandria; so they handed us over to men who were like wild beasts. And he bade one of his companions take charge of us, namely Yazîd, a leader of certain men with him, who was braver than any other of his followers. Our number on that day was ten, besides the father patriarch, Abba Michael; and Yazîd put with each one of us three soldiers, who oppressed us sorely. Then, when the sun was burning, that officer prepared for us various instruments of torture; for they had not agreed as to what kind of death they should make us suffer; upon which I and my father Moses begged the father patriarch to say over us the Prayer of Absolution, according to the canon of the church; and so he did. Afterwards we prayed one for another, and the younger of us said to the elder : «If thou shalt find mercy with Christ, remember me.» And we turned our faces to the East and prayed, while the people were looking at us from the eastern bank, and also on the western side, and many of the Muslims wept for us; and Marwân's eldest son, named Abd Allah, was weeping for us also, together with the people.
Then Marwân lifted up his eyes towards the eastern bank, and saw |178 the Khorassanians in great numbers; and he was dismayed for this and said : «How shall I fight them?» For he knew not what to do. Now Abd ar-Rahîm, the misbeliever whom we mentioned before, had discovered a mixture with which he smeared the boats, so that fire could not injure them. Therefore Marwân caused the boats to be thus anointed, and embarked on each boat eighty men, and bade them fight the people; so they threw fire over them, and burnt all the boats that they found. But a boat which was approaching the eastern bank, where stood Sâlih and Abu Aun and their companions, was upset with its occupants, and all were drowned except one man; and the people of Misr picked up the corpses, and took what was on them and the ammunition and money that they had. And the living, who were not drowned, they took as prisoners, and bound them together two and two, with iron chains round their necks, and dragged them to land and delivered them to the Khorassanians. Now the Khorassanians had brought many boats with them to Misr.
And when the tenth hour of that day had passed, Marwân ordered Yazîd, in whose charge we were, to take us to the north of the Island of An-Nuzahât. So we prayed upon the edge of the river, in the enclosure Then, when they took us away, they hurried us along in great wrath. But |179 the Lord beheld our secret thoughts and our faith, and he put into the heart of Abd Allah, the elder son of Marwân, the wish to intercede with his father, Marwân, weeping with copious tears; for he begged his father to let us go, saying : «Behold, thou seest our enemies surrounding us; while we are preparing, if things go hard with us, to escape to the land of the Blacks, who are, as we have been told, the spiritual children of this old man; so that, if thou slayest him, they will not welcome us, but they also will rise up against us and slay us.» When Marwân had heard these words of his son, we were taken back to prison. Now there were in that place four prisons. So, when they brought us into the prison, they made us fast with wood and iron, and we were in great distress. And the first to be fettered with iron was the holy father and patriarch; and after him the bishop, Abba Moses, and I, his son John, the poor sinner and deacon, upon whom he had laid his holy hand without any merit of mine. Then followed the bishop of Tunbuda, Abba Mennas, the patriarch's secretary, and Abba Zacharias, bishop of Atrib, and his spiritual son, the bishop of Busîr, whose name was Peter, and who had recently taken possession of his see, and the deacon George, the son of the spiritual father who received the see of Al-Basrât, and Athanasius, archpriest of the church of Saint Macarius, and Abba |180 James, who was also counted worthy of the bishopric of Sanjâr, and his spiritual brother, the son of the Father Peter of Samannûd. And they fastened to the feet of each one of us eleven a mass of iron, exceedingly heavy, weighing half a Khunjûr; and they put us behind three wooden doors without light or air or means of rest, one looking to the east and another to the west; and the narrow space in which we were oppressed us more than the iron, so that we almost died from crowding, and the gaolers were pitiless; for that misbelieving prince, Marwân, had given orders that we should be closely confined. And our father's sadness on our account was greater than his care for himself; but he encouraged us with the word of God and the holy canons of our ancient fathers. So not one of us hid anything from the others, but we were all one soul, as Paul says 33, awaiting the end; and we prayed God to send it quickly, that we might lay down our lives for the people, rather than that one of them should perish. When the father discoursed to us, he spoke a spiritual language like the music of a harp, while the breath of life came forth from his mouth with spiritual praises; and he persevered in fasting and in prayer day and night.
As for my father Moses, in the first hour after they brought us into the prison and put us in fetters he prophesied to us, saying : «They will not |181 slay us this time; yet we shall not be released from the prison as long as Marwân is alive.» And it was as he said. And when we wished to break our fast, a man named Ibn Kustus sent to us provisions for breakfast; but we had no room to eat, and could not turn to the right or left on account of the narrow space. And there was a great dearth in the district of Al-Gizah through the multitude of people; for wheat was not to be found at all, nor barley, after a waibah had been sold at a high price; but in spite of the distress salt was sold at the usual rate.
Then Marwân, after these troubles which he had brought upon every place, ordered his followers to slay and take prisoners and pillage; and they obeyed him. And he sent to Upper Egypt, and slew all the Christians there; the leader of that business being a man named Marwân, son of Abd al-Azîz the founder of Hulwân. And they laid waste the country from Memphis to the city of Theodosia.
But when the Lord desired to take vengeance upon them, he endured them no longer, after the crimes which they had committed in corrupting and violating women, and polluting many of the virgins. Accordingly there came some men who knew the fords of the river, and made them known to the Khorassanians, whom they guided thither, thus conducting them across to the western bank. And the Khorassanians divided their army |182 into four parts : one part with a man named Sâlih, told off to guard Misr; and one with a man named Abu 'l-Hakam, who was in high favour with the prince; and one in the lower parts of Shatnûf and its neighbourhood, to prevent anyone from crossing the river; and one with Abu Aun, who encamped beside a ford, where the water was low. Then Marwân despatched Hautharah and his men to take up their position opposite to the Khoras-sanians, intending to prevent their crossing. But Marwân's boats were seized by the Khorassanians of the black-robed party, who had destroyed the church of the Martyr Apater. Meanwhile we, in spite of all these events, remained in the prison at Al-Gizah, in bonds and in distress with our companions ; and all men were hindered from enquiring after us by fear lest we should be put to torture; but, whenever a man desired to come to us to receive the blessing of the fathers, he bribed our gaoler heavily. After that they oppressed us even more cruelly, as they did to Ignatius, the saint and martyr, when they delivered him to the ten lions. So they acted even when our brethren did good to them, for they tormented us yet more. At that time then we remained with the patriarch ten days and ten nights in this fashion; but when the deacon and reader of Bilbais saw our distress he hastened away to the Monastery of Saint Macarius, in Wadî Habîb, and |183 assembled all the holy fathers and monks; and they began to fast and pray in the church night and day, crying to the Lord Christ to look upon us, and to take away our misery and all that men were suffering by captivity and slaughter and pillage, and 1o put a stop to the lamentations of young and old. So the gracious God heard them, and raised up the Khorassanians to help them : for Abu Aun crossed the river with his army to the western bank; and when Hautharah and his troops, Marwân's followers, saw him, they took to flight. And the Khorassanians pursued and fought them, and did not cease slaughtering them until they reached Wadî Habîb, in answer to the prayers of the saints; for the army of the Khorassanians crossed over the river on the day on which the monks assembled in the church, which was Saturday, the last day of Abîb. And they slew so many of Marwân's army, that of eight thousand men whom he led out of Misr only four hundred survived and no more.
When Marwân learnt that his enemy's troops had been divided into four parts, he fled two days before they crossed the river, carrying his wives and his goods with him; and thus he escaped secretly. And of the followers of Yazîd three hundred were slain, for he fled from Shatnûf in the direction of Mount Wasîm; and then his own men killed him, and killed his horse that he rode, and went over to the other party, and swore allegiance to them. |184
But the two sons of Marwân were at Al-Gizah when their father fled, and they knew not whither he had gone. For he had sent his younger son to the north of the Island of An-Nuzahât; and he was very wicked like his father. But as for the elder, Abd Allah, our fathers had prayed for him that he might not meet with trials nor troubles because of what he had done for them; and so it was. Now the younger son was fifteen years old; and he fled to An-Nuzahât, accompanied by four hundred horsemen; and he found there a certain oil, called dogs' oil, in marble jars, and he upset it into the river; and after setting fire to An-Nuzahât, he joined his father Marwân. And although he released those that were in the prisons at that place, we were not released, but he wished to burn us in the fire. Then he went into the midst of the boats of the fleet to burn them; and a voice was heard, crying mightily : «Behold, thy enemies are come!» So he and his companions fled quickly., And those who remained at An-Nuzahât of its inhabitants extinguished the fire, and set us free at sunset from the prison, and released us from the irons on our feet. God be witness that some of the Muslims who were on horseback dismounted, and took off the iron from us; and men took women's dresses and put them on, and hid themselves in the storehouses and cellars, through fear of that terrible voice which they had heard. And they took us and led us away to Saint Peter's church at |185 Al-Gizah, while some of the faithful walked with us, it being the night of the first Sunday in Misri.
Now there was no water at all in the canal of Al-Gizah, for it was dried up by God's command; nor did the water rise or stir at all until the day when we crossed over it on our feet. And when the Khorassanians learnt that their enemy had fled, they embarked in the boats that night and crossed to Al-Gizah, taking their horses also on board. So they pursued Marwân. And every man that they met, who was not wearing the black garments, they put to death. And that night the van of the army, which had crossed with Abu Aun from Shatnûf, came southwards with their drawn swords in their hands, and all wearing iron cuirasses, purposing to fight Marwân and to capture him. And as for us, we felt no inclination to sleep that night. For the Khorassanians stayed three days and three nights, joining their forces at the beginning of Misri, and marching onwards; while we beheld them as one host from the mountains to the river. Then Hautharah begged for a safe-conduct; but they would not accept him, saying : «If thou wilt not deliver to us the enemy of God, Marwân, thou shalt have no safe-conduct from us.» So he departed and took Marwân, and acted deceitfully with him, saying : «Behold, our enemies have drawn near to us. Arise, let us take our women and children and goods, and let us embark |186 secretly in the boats, and descend the river, and escape to the Romans; for, if we fall into this man's hand, he will destroy us.» Marwân answered: «Ah Hautharah, thou art acting treacherously with thy master!» And thereupon Marwân took his sword, and cut off Hautharah's head and killed him. And none opposed the Khorassanians nor stood before them, after Hautharah was slain. Then they called upon every man who was a Christian to fasten a cross of gold or silver or copper upon his forehead, or upon his garment, and upon the door of his house, and whoever did not do so was slain; but this was no fault of ours. And the Khorassanians also had crosses of gold and silver on their horse's necks. Then the army of which Sâlih was leader overtook Marwân and his son, after pursuing him for a whole day, and, when they met, the fighting did not cease between them from evening till morning, so that many were slain. And they followed him as far as Mount Abbah to the west of Cleopatra, the city founded by Alexander the Macedonian, the place concerning which the prophecy was uttered by the holy old hermit, whom Marwân burnt alive in the fire, and who told him, before he burnt him, that he would be killed at that place. And with Marwân was killed also Rayân, son of Abd al-Azîz; but the two sons of Marwân |187 escaped. And the Khorassanians took possession of Hulwân and all that was therein, and slew the women, and seized all the money of Egypt that was at Hulwân. And the Persians, Marwân's followers, were slain with the sword; and the enemy seized all that belonged to them, and carried it away in the prince's boats.
And now the Nile began to rise, although it had been sinking till the Khorassanians had crossed over to the bank of Al-Gizah, and had destroyed Marwân, After that it increased again, from the first day of Misri, and rose every day about a cubit, till finally it reached eighteen cubits that year, for which reason men said that the hand of God was with the Khorassanians. Whenever the latter found men bearing the sign of the cross, they lightened their taxes, and behaved kindly to them, and did good to them, in whatever part of the country they might be.
But they impaled Marwân head downwards, after they had killed him. For they took him prisoner at a place called Dâwatun, and we were witnesses of this event; and they cut off the head of his vizier. And when those princes, the leaders of the Khorassanians, inquired after us, we went to them; and they set the holy father and martyr, Abba Michael, free, and honoured him greatly. And his beard had grown again and was more |188 comely than before, by the power of the Lord Christ; and we and all who had witnessed these occurrences glorified God. And the father, Abba Michael said : «Verily I saw a personage while I was in prison, who touched my face with his hand, and my beard grew again handsomer than it had been before.» When the father, Abba Michael, requested of the governor to protect the property of the churches in all the provinces, he complied with his request. And as for the Bashmurites, he made them free of taxation, and gave them other revenues as a gift. Now Marwân had burnt all the books and accounts of the Divâns, so that they did not know the amount of the revenues, whether paid in cash or in kind. In those days great events took place in Egypt; but Sâlih departed with his army to Palestine.
When we were set free, each one of us departed to his own place. And Abu Aun was made governor of Egypt. And a short time afterwards there came to Egypt two men, officials of the divans, sent by the prince. They were Muslims, and one of them was named Atâ, son of Shurahbil, and the other Safi; and they were far from the knowledge of God. And Abu Aun laid before them all the accounts of Egypt, and brought the country back into the state in which it had been under Marwân. Although they were driven away from the palace, the prince sent them back; and they imposed two fresh |189 duties upon Lower Egypt, and one upon Upper Egypt. This was in the second year of security and prosperous government. And they instructed the governor, and taught him how to cause great trouble, through their hatred of us, the Christians, and their love of money; for authority was given to them to do what they would. Now of the revenue of Egypt, after deducting the soldiers' pay, and the expenses of the government offices, and what was needed to carry on the administration, what remained over and was carried to the Public Treasury altogether every year amounted to two hundred thousand dinars 34, apart from the necessary outlay and expenses and what we have already mentioned. And in the third year of the rule of the Khorassanians they doubled the taxes, and exacted them from the Christians, and would not fulfil their promises to them. For the two secretaries aforesaid find the Khorassanians forgot that it was God who had given them the government, and neglected the holy Cross which had gained them the victory. And Abd Allah, the prince, sent letters over the whole of his empire, declaring that every one who would adopt his religion, and pray according to his prayer, should be exempted from the poll-tax. So in consequence of the cruel extortions and burdens imposed upon them, many of the rich and poor denied the faith of Christ, and followed Abd Allah. Then the father patriarch, |190 Abba Michael, went to Abu Aun, the governor, and addressed him with reference to the troubles which had been caused in Egypt, instead of the good administration which he had purposed; and he answered : «The prince gave those orders because wicked men bore witness to him, saying : If the people of Egypt find rest for one year, they will conspire against thee, and make war upon thee, as the Bashmurites made war upon Marwân.» Then Abba Michael prayed the governor to relieve the churches of Alexandria by lightening the taxes on the land which is cultivated for them only; so Abu Aun gave orders to those two secretaries, telling them to do what the patriarch desired; yet they would not obey him, but began to incline his heart to evil. So the father patriarch, and my father, Abba Moses, with him, and I, the mean one, remained for more than a month attending at the palace and interviewing those miscreants. And there was there an old Ishmaelite, who beheld us daily at this business; and he feared God. And he related a story to our father, Abba Michael, saying : «As we, the Muslims who serve God, have grown poor, so I know that you also will be like us.» The father said to him : «Thou speakest truly; but I desire a fuller explanation of the meaning of thy speech.» So the old man replied :
«In my youth, my parents entrusted me to two friends, Ishmaelite merchants, that I might carry goods with them to Africa, to sell them there. |191 When we had journeyed as far as the Five Cities, with our camels laden with the rarities of Egypt and the East, we halted by a lake that was very deep. And each one of us had tied to his belt a purse, containing four hundred dinars. And in consequence of the fatigue of the journey and the heat, one of us stripped off his clothes, that he might go down into the water and bathe. So he threw his belt to his comrade, that he might keep it until he came up from the water; but it slipped from his friend's hand into the water unnoticed by anyone else. The man who had dropped it stripped himself, and went down to seek it, but could not find it. So when he came up again, he gave his comrade his own girdle, instead of that which was lost, without telling him that it was lost. And we journeyed onward into Africa, where we sold our merchandise, and bought other wares suitable for Egypt. Then the elder of my companions said to the younger : Give me the four hundred dinars which thou hast, that I may buy merchandise with them. But he answered : What we have bought is enough for us this time. And though the other insisted, he did not tell him what had happened. So the other bought certain goods with the four hundred dinars which he had. When we returned to the lake, the same thing happened as before; for the elder, to whom the lost money belonged, stripped himself and went down to bathe. And he found his belt, which had been lost; and when he looked at it, he recognised it as his own. So he said to his friend : |192 Tell me what thou hast done. Then his friend made known to him what had happened, and how he had dropped the girdle. But the other did not tell him that he had found it, until they arrived at Misr, and sold their wares. Then the elder gave to the younger the interest of the four hundred dinars as well as the principal, saying to him : God gives thee this money of thine, and thou must also have the interest of it. When he had done this, his comrade discussed with him what had taken place between them; and the thing became known to the governor, and all men marvelled thereat. And both of them took some of their money, and gave it as alms to the poor; and after that they devoted themselves entirely to religion, and I imitated them; and not one of us either sells or buys any more. But at the present day, O holy man, behold, thou seest how all men love injustice, and have set evil as a crown upon their heads; and thou art a witness to this, and knowest that it is true.»
When he had related this tale to us, we departed to our own places. And God did not endure the Khorassanians, but raised up wars against them from every side. First there was Abd ar-Rahman, son of Habîb, brother of Al-Aswâd before mentioned, who seized Africa. For Abd Allah, the prince, sent troops to Africa in order to take it, in the fourth year of his |193 reign; and in the year 470 of the Martyrs he marched from Egypt at the beginning of the month of Abîb. Yet his army did not dare to enter Africa, but remained in the desert, where most of them perished with thirst. And in that year God destroyed Abd Allah, and his son sat upon the throne instead of him. And great fighting took place in Egypt between Sâlih and his brother, who now began to govern. Then the prince sent Sâlih into Egypt to seek his troops, and rescue them from the hand of his brother. Then he brought back the army which he had sent into Africa, and entered Misr on the 19th of Babah. And he marched to Palestine, that they might fight Sâlih's brother. And Abu Aun was there also; and many of his soldiers were killed. And the war continued between them without interruption, for God requited them for the evil which they had done in the land Egypt; and they destroyed one another without the interference of a stranger, and did not cease fighting until Sâlih went away to the sovereign prince in Al-Irak, and Abu Aun returned to Egypt, and Sâlih's brother fled, and did not appear again, after they had destroyed the troops between them. At that time Abba John, patriarch of Antioch, went to his rest, after he had continued in reconciliation with the bishops for three years. And God hindered the water from rising while Abu Aun was in Egypt; for its |194 highest level was below fourteen cubits, where it stopped, whereas the height required by the government for its revenue was sixteen cubits. But God only held back the water on account of those two secretaries, who were like Antichrist in their deeds. And this check to the water took place by God's will, that he might show his wonders which he manifests at all times, and prove the truth of the Christian religion. The bishops had come from their sees to the patriarch, that they might meet together in his presence at the Feast of the Cross, according to their custom of assembling before him and forming a synod twice in the year. So the bishop of Misr and the others went to him. Now God had revealed this matter to my father the bishop, Abba Moses. And orders were given that none should go that year to Alexandria for the synod according to custom. So the bishops assembled at Misr before the patriarch. And on the 17th of Tût, the day of the Feast of the glorious Cross, the clergy of Al-Gizah and An-Nuzahât assembled with most of the people of Al-Fustât, and the old and the young of the laity : and they bore the gospels, and censers with incense. And we entered into the great church, the Catholicon, named after Saint Peter, the foundations of which were laid in the river. But the church could not contain the people through their multitude, so that they stood in the fields and places |195 around. And the patriarch lifted up the cross; while beside him stood Abba Mennas, bishop of Memphis, bearing the holy gospel. And he led us all forth, carrying crosses and books of the gospels; and we stopped upon the bank of the river, it being before sunrise. And the father patriarch prayed, and Abba Mennas, the bishop, prayed; and the people did not cease to cry Kyrie eleison until the third hour of the day, so that multitudes of the Jews and Muslims and others marvelled at our cries to God, the Glorious and Exalted. And he heard us, praised is his glorious name! For the river rose and increased by one cubit; and all glorified and gave thanks to God. And when the news reached Abu Aun, he marvelled and feared, he and all his troops. And by God's inspiration he said to his soldiers and to the people of Misr : «We desire to know which of the religions is the true one». So he gave orders that the Muslims dwelling at Misr should assemble, and go forth to the mountain to the east of Misr. Therefore they gathered together, small and great, old and young, slaves and freemen; and not one of the people of his faith and religion was left; and the multitude were assembling from midnight till the. fourth hour of the day. And they prayed and offered supplications to God, saying thus : «O God, the Only One, who hast no fellow, O Creator of heaven and earth, thou knowest that we associate no other with thee, and worship none besides thee, and that we say not, as the Christians do, that thou hast a Son, or that thou wast |196 born, but we confess thee to be One, and worship thee in Unity. We desire this day to see thy wonders, which thou dost work, that we may know and prove that there is no religion like ours, which we inherit from our fathers; and we pray thee to work a miracle for us, as thou didst yesterday for the Christians, who are our enemies and the enemies of our creed, for they set beside thee another God, begotten by thee from the beginning, whom they call Christ born of Mary, saying that he is thy Son, with the Holy Ghost, and that thou art the Third of them, with many such doctrines. We pray thee to give us a sign and miracle in this water.» And while they were thus employed, behold, one of the men who measure the water ran up and said to them : «The water has sunk just as much as it rose yesterday.» Then great sadness came upon them, and the governor knew not what to say; and the people went away to their own places in great grief. Then Abu Aun ordered that the people of Misr should be tried, and bad the crier proclaim that the Muslims were to go out to the mountain to pray. And on the morrow they all issued forth. And the Jews and the Samaritans went out the second day; but the water neither rose nor sank, but remained as it was. So Abu Aun, the governor, remained in sadness and without faith. But he said : «So that I may see the end of the matter»; and he remained in perplexity, saying : «By the prayers of the Christians the water rose, and at our prayers it sank.» Then he ordered on the third |197 day that no one at all should go out, and that none should ascend to the mountain nor pray. And the water did not rise during the three days at all. After that he gave orders to bring the Christians who were at Al-Fustât, and certain tribes whose names we do not remember; and he commanded Abba Moses to pray, him and his people. So they recited the prayers, and gave thanks to God till the sixth hour of the day, and went down and walked round Misr, and came to the bank of the river, and prayed for the rest of the day. And that night the river rose three cubits, so that altogether it completed seventeen cubits. Then all the people rejoiced greatly, and thanked God and glorified his name.
And as for Abu Aun, for this reason he increased his benefits towards the Christians and their churches, and lightened their taxes. And from that day the Father Patriarch and the bishops, with those who were baptized and the whole Church, lived in security and peace, in great joy and gladness, in the land of Egypt and the Five Cities and all the places under the see of the evangelist, Saint Mark, because of the miracles of the Church which the governor beheld, and her mighty works. And the governor said that the Christians were of one heart, living in agreement together. For the conduct of the fathers in that generation resembled the works of the spiritual |198 angels; for one cured diseases, and another showed forth wonders, and another expounded the scriptures and taught and exhorted, and another exercised his body in works and labours; and all the laity were filled with admiration of them, and sought their blessing. And the father, Abba Michael, for this cause was happy in his bishops and all his flock, and used to go round among them, and enquire into all their circumstances with care, and exhort them with his life-giving words, like the apostles and fathers at the beginning, and like the dwellers in the deserts and caves, encouraging them and teaching them how to fight the Satanic spirits. And to the monks of the monasteries he taught humility and mutual love; and the faithful laity he led to that which God approves, and to those of little faith he taught the doctrines of the gospel, and those who were engaged in disputes he conciliated together, and calmed their malice, and appeased their enmity by his instructions in the Holy Scriptures.
But if we did not aim at abridgment, books would be insufficient to contain the deeds of this holy father, Abba Michael. Now there were two parties of heretics, the followers of Meletius, who lived in ancient times, and of Julian. So the father sent messengers to them, and wrote to them; but they would not answer him. Then he went himself to visit them, but could not bring them back to a right heart. For they denied that they were heretics, and they remained dissidents, some of them in the monasteries and some in |199 the deserts. So he raised his hands to heaven, and said : «If these are they who have denied thee and done evil deeds, show forth a sign speedily without delay, so that all may see them, and glorify thy name.» Accordingly, after a short time, the Lord destroyed them, and caused them to disappear, as he destroyed Sodom. And at the monastery wherein there were three thousand persons, there no longer remained any save ten souls, who were believers and did not walk in their path. And 1, the mean one, addressed them, and visited them, when the wild beasts had dwelt in their habitations through the prayers of the holy father, Abba Michael, during the governorship of Abd Allah. And if anyone, ignorant of the history, asks : «What was the sin of those men, for which they perished?» I will answer you with God's help.
In the days when Dionysius the Wise was patriarch of Alexandria, there appeared the misbeliever, Paul of Samosata, who was patriarch of Antioch, and who angered God by his foul deeds. So, when Dionysius heard of him, he wrote to the pious and faithful princes, to inform them of the news that had reached him concerning Paul the heretic. Therefore they drove him away, and none knew how he escaped. And anyone who desires to know |200 of his foul deeds will find an account of them in the epistle of Athanasius the Apostolic, which he wrote concerning them, and then he will understand and know that matter. And when Abba Moses was first ordained there were many monasteries in his diocese of Wasîm, belonging to those followers of Meletius, in which they dwelt. So he banished them all. But some of them had received the habit from his hand, when they put it on, and became united to us; and for this reason there was friendship between me and them, during the time when I was a layman. So when they stripped off them the spiritual habit, received from my father's hand, there was no longer any affection between me and any of them. And I questioned him about their former deeds, when he was calling them sorcerers and the children of Satan; and he answered me : «I will tell thee of another thing done by those men, who were not worthy to enter among the people of God nor into his kingdom, namely, that they bewitched children, and led them out into the desert, and bound them where none could see them, and sat down near them to guard them; and if they complained of thirst, they gave them nothing to drink; and when their thirst became severe, they poured water over their heads and bodies; and when one of them was near death, and his eyes started out of his head, and his tongue clove to the roof of his mouth, they cut off his head with a knife before he died, so that Satan might speak through those heads without falsehood, and they might |201 lead men astray with their devilish and shameful deeds». Now there was a holy priest in our company, living in the Cell at Wasîm; and on Friday, during the Fast, while I was with him in the Cell, but Abba Moses was seeing no man, since he was employing himself in prayer and self-discipline, except on Saturdays and Sundays, then that priest saw a great dragon in his cell. Therefore he made a cross of silver, and placed it on the spot where he had seen it; and on the morrow he found the dragon dead beneath the cross.
Is there then any power greater than the power of those who worship God with a pure and honest intention and a firm faith?
And there was in those days a great dearth, and so a man came to An-Nuzahât to ask alms, and stole something thence. And another man saw mm, who was a believer; and he wished to reprimand him, so that he might repent of the theft, but was prevented from doing so by his kindness and charitable thoughts. Afterwards that man went again, and stole some corn from his neighbours, and buried it, that he might take and eat it. Then the owner of the corn visited my father Moses, who read to him from the Scriptures, and charged him not to reward evil with evil, but to recompense evil with good. Accordingly he did so, and followed his advice, and therefore God increased his wealth until all who knew him marvelled at him. |202
I have mentioned to you, my brethren, the fate of the accursed people of Palestine, that you might hold yourselves aloof from them. Now I desire to relate another miracle, shown forth by the Father Epimachus, the bishop. One day he was teaching his people in the city of Al-Faramâ, and exhorting them to avoid heretics, and never to associate with them in anything. And behold, a priest of the Chalcedonians appeared before him to tempt him with guile; and the bishop delivered a long discourse, at the end of which the priest said to him : «I believe in thy creed and confess it.» But the bishop Epimachus took holy oil from the body of the holy Severus, the patriarch, and anointed the face of the heretical priest, saying to him : «If thou mockest the Lord, let his power appear in thee!» And immediately a spirit of an unclean devil leapt upon him, and threw him down, and choked and tormented him, so that he foamed at the mouth; and it did not cease to possess and torment him till the day of his death.
Then the bishop gave orders that his flock should never have a stranger as sponsor, but only members of their own family or their parents. And there were there some heretics, who would not obey him; but God requited them speedily, so that every one marvelled at the doctrines of the Lord. And there was a wealthy woman, who took a man who had committed sin with her, |203 and made him godfather to her child. When they returned to their town, while they were on the way, they came to a desert place, and sinful desires were stirred in them according to their custom; so they laid down the child with the garments of baptism upon him, and entered an inn by the way side, and committed their sin; and so the house fell down upon them, and they were killed. And the bishop testified to us that he had beheld those two still together, when the stones were removed from them, and their heads were as they had been, the face of the man and the face of the woman. And many people saw them, and feared. And the news was spread abroad among all men, and the people published it. So the bishop's theology was confirmed among our fathers, and from that day they forbad all men to take a stranger as sponsor, but only their own kinsfolk. And none alter that took a stranger as sponsor. But I in my youth saw many commit sin with their sponsors, during my own lifetime, in consequence of which their lives were cut off and their habitations laid waste.
Now the bishop, Abba John, bishop of Sarsana, used to cast out unclean spirits through the grace given to him for his virginity and asceticism. For he remained monk and bishop all his life, and died in a good old age. So also Abba Cyrus, bishop of Tânah, to whom during his monastic life a wonder was manifested, namely that a heretic deceived him on account of the faith, and took his hand to lead him into the furnace at the baths, but could not |204 induce him, and he escaped from his hand. Then the bishop took his mantle, he being a monk, and threw it into the fire, and it was not burnt.
Now I know that I have made my discourse long, but my only object has been to teach you what took place, that you may understand it. And as for what is said about the deeds of Abba Zacharias, bishop of Atrib, he dwelt from his youth up in the desert, continuing in prayer; and his tears flowed like streams of water, and weeping was sweet to him; and he was assiduons in alms-giving to the anchorites, and everyone loved him; and his spiritual sons walked in his path. So likewise the blessed Stephen, bishop of Shutb, and his fathers who were before him over that see, who were excellent in their lives above the rest of the bishops of Egypt, among whom was the bishop Abba Hesychius, the great Theomantis and confessor, who spoke of divine matters. And to Stephen, who walked in his path, God granted the gift of healing the sick, and knowing what was to happen before it took place; and he showed forth many wonders. Now there was in his diocese a priest, whose wife was pregnant when he died; and she was a pure woman. Yet after his death, her elder sons cast her out, saying that she had conceived by another. But the bishop said to them : «Leave her alone until she brings forth.» So when she was delivered, he took the babe and baptized it, and carried it on his shoulder in the presence of all the people of his diocese, and bade the babe speak before the people, and say who was its father. And immediately it spoke with its tongue, as if it |205 were a lion's cub, saying : «I am the son of such an one, the priest, by whom my mother conceived me nine days before his death, although none knew of that but God who created me. And my brothers wished to cast my mother out wrongfully.» Then the bishop made the sign of the cross over its lips, and bade it speak no more, until the proper age of speech. And so it was. Like these was the aged Abba Paul, bishop of Akhmim, who had been the second superior of the Monastery of Sinuthius, the saint, the star of the desert. There was a magician, who took a maiden, and turned her into an ass by his wicked arts, in the presence of all who saw her. And she remained with him three years, as she related. And when he took her out into the desert, he made her a woman, that she might serve him, and he might commit sin with her. But when he entered the city, he rode upon her, as if she were an ass. Then on the 7th of Abîb, the feast of the holy Sinuthius, the excellent prophet, the aged Abba Paul met that man, when she was with him, and took her from him, though none knew of her except the accursed misbelieving magician. And Abba Paul took the magician, and gave him up to the governor, who caused him |206 to be burnt in the fire, after he had been put to death. Then the bishop loosed the woman from the bonds of Satan, and delivered her to the superior of the convent of nuns. For there were among them many women of the laity, living with them.
These then are the fathers whom we saw, and whose words we listened to, and whose glorious deeds cannot be counted. And one of them, Abba Cyrus, who was of Jaujar which is the chief of four sees, had been married in his youth, and lived long with his wife in great devotion and reached the age of a hundred and five years. And those two were two pure virgins, sleeping on one bed for a long time; and their food was barley bread and salt; and all that they had or found they gave in alms to the poor. Then, when they advanced in years, Abba Cyrus gave up his pure wife to the convent of nuns. Another of them was the Father Abba Isaac, bishop over the see of Samannûd, and we know what he endured of torments and fighting with the Barsanuphians, until he brought them back to the faith in the see of Saint Mark the Evangelist.
Now the church of Antioch was widowed and without a patriarch. And a man named Abd Allah Abu Ja'far, who belonged to the family of the first princes, was now reigning, and Abu Muslim was called his uncle. And Abu Aun was in Egypt, and Sâlih with Abd Allah. And the Church was prosperous and at peace in the days of the holy patriarch, Abba Michael, in consequence of the troubles and struggles which he had endured, and some of which we |207 have related, until his ministry was ended and he went to his rest, and departed in peace to the merciful Lord Christ, as we have described at the end of this history. And the church of Antioch remained without a patriarch after the decease of Abba John, on account of the wars and the armies, until the Khorassanians took possession of the land. At the beginning of their rule, Isaac, bishop of Harran, went to Abd Allah, and petitioned him concerning the patriarchate of Antioch; for Abba John had died, as his two sons informed us, when they came to visit us. They said that Abd Allah was a native of Harran, and bis wife was barren; and she saw in a dream one who prophesied to her : «Seek Isaac, the bishop, that he may pray for thee, and the Lord will give thee a son.» And this woman served and feared God; and when Abd Allah solicited her to marry him, she made a condition with him that he should marry no other wife besides her, and should take no concubine. For she said to him : «We know that God created us in the beginning male and female, and, if thou wilt not make this compact with me, I will not marry thee.» So he made the agreement with her, and kept it till the day of her death. Therefore they summoned the bishop Abba Isaac to her, on the morning of the next day, and she made known to him what she had seen in her dream. So he appointed a week between her and him, and prayed God to fulfil her request. Then he departed to the monastery in which he had been a monk, and informed the brethren of the matter; so they |208 assembled in the church before the body of the founder of the monastery, and prayed him to intercede with God on her account. And three days afterwards, while they were fasting, the woman saw two men standing near her bed, who resembled Abba Isaac the bishop and the Father of the monastery, saying to her : «Verily God has heard the prayers, and this night thou shalt conceive a male child.» Then they disappeared. So she told this dream to her husband, and they were exceedingly glad. Then she conceived and brought forth a son. And for this reason they loved the bishop Abba Isaac, until God gave the government of the empire to Abd Allah, and then the prince gave Isaac authority to be patriarch of Antioch and the East, and commanded that whoever should oppose him should be slain with the sword. Afterwards indeed the prince slew two great metropolitans of this country, because they said to Abba Isaac : «Thou art bishop of Harran. How canst thou break the canons, and accept the support of the government, in taking the patriarchal throne by violence. Thou forcest us to excommunicate thee, for the canons decree that all who take advantage of the government shall be excommunicated.» Abba Isaac therefore laid a complaint before the prince, who gave orders that those two metropolitans should be slain; and there was great trouble in that country. Then Abba Isaac received a |209 decree from the prince for Abu Aun, governor of Egypt, in which he said; «Obey all that the patriarch, Abba Isaac, writes to thee, and do it for him». Isaac also wrote a synodical letter in his own name to the blessed Abba Michael, patriarch of the city of Alexandria, and sent it, accompanied by gifts, by two sons of his, a priest and a deacon, who were his scribes, and two of the chiefs of the metropolitans, one of them being metropolitan of Damascus, and the other metropolitan of Emesa, that they might receive an answer for him. Therein he wrote salutations to the patriarch of Egypt and his bishops, requesting him to exalt his name among them according to custom and for the sake of unity. He also wrote a letter from himself to Abu Aun, the governor, asking that, if the patriarch refused to comply, he might be sent to Abd Allah, the prince. When the letters reached Abu Aun, he sent to Alexandria and summoned Abba Michael, the patriarch, to Misr by himself; and when the letters and the decree were read to him, he answered, saying : «Do not force me to this, until I have assembled the bishops, and they have taken counsel upon this matter, according to our canons and laws». Then the governor conceded this to him, and allowed him a delay; and the patriarch took up his residence at Misr, and wrote to the bishops of the north and south and of the farther and nearer parts of Upper Egypt, bidding them all assemble to him, and look into this affair, and write him an answer, When they arrived, |210 they answered, saying to the patriarch : «He is thy equal, Father, and thy partner in the ministry; therefore do what seems good to thee with him; for, as for us, we have nothing to do with this matter.» And there was great trouble among them. And there was with him Abba Theodore, the second bishop of Misr of that name, who had been hegumen of Al-Fustât, and priest of the church of Saint Sergius : he and my father Abba Moses, bishop of Wasîm, alone. So they sent to me, the sinner, because they knew that I was one of their members, as it is written 35, not by my knowledge, but by spiritual love. So I went to them as a son, after a month, while they were holding converse with the envoys, in order to seek for answers, and for the sake of the decree of confirmation, that is say, the systatic letter. Now these envoys from the east were men in whom were found religion and charity. So when they saw me, I was wearing the habit of monks, though my conduct was far from that which a monk's ought to be, and they pointed to my fathers, saying : «Art thou here present alone with us, because thou art acting as deputy for thy brethren?» Then when they beheld me sitting with the bishops, and arguing with them in the discussion, they marvelled and said : «We never saw a monk argue with the patriarch, like this man». And the metropolitans said : «His tongue is like a sword, and cannot be opposed.» Then my fathers said to them : «He is in the position of a bishop.» So |211 they marvelled. Then one of the metropolitans said to me : «How many children hast thou in thy diocese and province?» I answered : «I have ten villages in each of which are ten adults, so that they produce every year about fifty human beings.» Then they said : «In truth we see thee worn and weak in body.» And one of them said : «I have under my see nine hundred hamlets, besides cities and villages and small dioceses; and our provinces are few.» And much discourse passed between us; for they were men imbued with religion and charity.
And in the second month they assembled in the church of our Lady, and the affair was settled with the patriarch, Abba Michael, who said : «Sword or fire or casting to lions or exile or captivity, ---- these are things that trouble me not; but I will not enter into what is not lawful, nor incur my own excommunication, which I subscribed with my own hand and initiated, to the effect that no bishop shall become patriarch. For the excellent fathers excommunicated him who shall take a degree in the hierarchy by the help or lavour of the government, and the bishops wrote to me from Antioch, in the time of Abba John, the patriarch, that any bishop who should be established on the throne after him should be excommunicated, and I subscribed my name to that declaration in my own handwriting. How then is it lawful for me to excommunicate myself, and to declare lawful to day what I anathematized yesterday, and to approve to-day what I condemned yesterday, and the holy fathers condemned before me?» Then he broke off the |212 discussion. So they proceeded to Abu Aun, the governor, and said to him : «Wilt thou send the patriarch with us to our own country, as the prince commanded?» But Abu Aun did not wish to send the father, because he loved him and the Christians; and he had found favour before God through them, and through God's acceptance of their prayers for him. So he said to the patriarch : «Thou art advanced in years, and the way is very long. Therefore depart and take counsel with thyself for a few days; and if the matter appears easier to thee, well and good; but if not, thou mayest go or not as thou wilt.»
So we went out from his presence. Then the metropolitans and envoys troubled us, and discoursed with the patriarch concerning the accomplishment of the command to journey with them, and would not leave us. So the father patriarch took thought for the journey, being sad at heart, and saying to my father Moses : «Wilt thou accompany me on this difficult road?» So my father Moses prepared to travel with him, besides Abba Theodore, bishop of Misr; and so also did I, John, the sinner. But when we were ready to start, the news that night arrived at Misr that Isaac, the bishop, who had usurped the throne of Antioch by the help of the government, had died at Antioch, and the see had been occupied by a man named Athanasius, who took his seat that very day before sunset, but died himself also the third day, and both were buried. When the metropolitans |213 and their clerical companions heard this news, they fled, and we knew not how they departed, only that we never beheld them again after that day.
Now I will tell you what was told us concerning this Athanasius. He was one of the chief bishops and a metropolitan, and exercised jurisdiction from the boundary of Harran inwards; and his province was very extensive, so that he used to travel over mountains and rocks and sharp stones on foot, wearing iron sandals, that he might go round every district. And they told us that he was very strong, tall in stature, stout in body; and the privilege had been granted him in synod to ordain the bishops, on account of the distance of the province from Antioch. But as soon as he usurped the patriarchal throne, he died.
And there came to us a Chalcedonian, named George, who was a good man; and he entered with us into the orthodox faith. So the choice of the synod fell upon him, and they made him patriarch of Antioch. But, a little time after he had established himself there, he was attacked by a bishop, named Abba David, whose mother had been nurse to Abu Ja'far al-Mansur, prince of the Muslims. This bishop accused him of that which may not be mentioned in the history of the Church ; for our misdeeds and sins require no addition to them. After this the prince arrested this George, and fettered him with iron and wood, and put him in prison in the eighth |214 year of his reign. And from that time to now no synodical letter has reached us, and no such letter has gone from us.
Now I will tell you the strange story of the patriarch of Constantinople, and the prince, and a Chalcedonian, in the year 480 of the Martyrs. There was a man of high rank at Constantinople, named Philip, whom the patriarch persuaded to attack the prince, saying : «If thou fightest against him, thou wilt conquer him, and take possession of the government.» But when the news reached the prince, he banished that patriarch to a distant town, where he was cast into a narrow dungeon; and another was made patriarch. Now this prince committed deeds not fit to be named, and removed the pictures from the churches. And I have related this to you, only that you may know that these things were general, and did not take place at Antioch alone, but throughout the empire. Thus the two patriarchs of Constantinople and Antioch were imprisoned at the same time.
Now we have related a little of the good fight fought by the Father Patriarch, Abba Michael. And there was none who remained with him in. his distress and weakness to assist him, except the father and bishop, Abba Theodore, bishop of Misr, and Abba Moses, bishop of Wasîm. And when he was advanced in age, he prayed God mercifully to remove him |215 from this world, that he might rest with the saints; and God answered his prayer, and he gave up his soul after all his struggles and the good works that he had done, on the 16th of Barmahât. And he remained upon the evangelical throne, according to the statement which we found in the library in the Monastery of Saint Macarius, twenty-three years and a half; and his holy body was deposited with the bodies of our holy fathers, in glory and honour. May their prayers be with us! Amen.
[Footnotes moved to the end and renumbered]
1. 1. S. John. x. 11.
2. 2. Ps. cxvi, 15 (Sept. cxv. 6).
3. 1. Some mss. have «Theodosius».
4. 1. S. Matth., v. 44; S. Luke. vi. 27, 28,
5. 1. Ps. iv. 3.
6. 1. S. Matth.. x, 28: S. Luke, xii. 4, 5.
7. 1. Cf. Amélineau, Histoire du patriarche copte Isaac, étude critique, texte copte et traduction, in Bulletin de correspondance africaine, Paris, 1890. and Bulletin de l'Institut Egyptien, 2e serie. n° 6 annee 1885. Le Caire. 1886.
8. 1. Gen., L, 24: Exod., xiii. 19.
9. 2. Hebr., v. 4.
10. 3. Ps. lxv. 5 (Sept. lxiv).
11. 1. Ps. xxxiii. 10 (Sept. xxxii).
12. 1. This note was apparently added in the time of Mauhub, son of Mansur, one of the compilers of the history.
13. 2. Michael III. A. D. 881-913.
14. 1. S. Matth., xxv, 21. 23; cf. S. Luke, xix. 17.
15. 1. This note is evidently added by the translator.
16. 1. Exod., xxiii, 5.
17. 1. Apoc, xiii. 17.
18. 1. S. Matth., xx, 26-27; S. Mark, x, 43, 44.
19. 1. Ps. lxxviii, 3 (Sept. lxxvii).
20. 1. I Tim., iii. 15.
21. 1. S. Matth., xxv, 25: cf. S. Luke, xix, 20.
22. 2. Ps. cxiii, 7 (Sept. cxii).
23. 1. S. Matth., vii. 17.
24. 2. Eccl., x, 16.
25. 1. Prov., xxvi, 25.
26. 1. Gen., i, 26.
27. 1. Daniel, vii, 17 ff; viii. 21 ff; x, 20; xi, 2, 5 ff.
28. 1. I Kings, xvii, 43.
29. 1. Deut., xxxii, 30: cf. Lev., xxvi, 8; Jos., xxiii, 10.
30. 1. Jer., i, 6.
31. 1. Gen., ii, 13; Eccli., xxiv, 27 (Vulg. 37; also Jer., ii, 18, Sept.).
32. 1. Ps. xxxviii; 12 (Sept, xxxvii).
33. 1. Rom,, xii. 16; xv, 5; I Cor., i, 10; II Cor., xiii, 11; Phil., ii, 2: iv. 2. etc.
34. 1. The copyists have added another word, making it 200,000,000.
35. 1. Rom., xii, 5; Ephes., iv, 25.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2005. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
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