DAYR ABU ISHAQ, a monastery, the church of which has been rebuilt, situated at the edge of the desert on the right bank between two villages called ‘Arab Mitir and ‘Arab al-‘Awamir in the district of Abnub. It is surrounded by a Christian cemetery.
One cannot with complete certainty identify it with the monastery of Isaac of which a Coptic manuscript speaks (Kuhn, 1978, p. 1). A certain number of parchment leaves that come from there prove that the monastery was in use down to the eighteenth century (Burmester, 1975, Vol. 1, pp. 290, 294, 296-301).
The Christian cemetery proves that this place played an important role in the Byzantine period (Kamal, 1903, p. 83). This is explained by its proximity to al-Khusus, which was an important center of the Coptic community in the Middle Ages. S. Clarke names the church in his list of churches and attaches it to al-Hamman (1912, p. 210, no. 20). O. Meinardus (1965, pp. 280-81; 1977, pp. 389-90) describes its present state. He also indicates that a mawlid (pilgrimage) takes place there in the month of May.
It is not known which Isaac is intended. Probably it was a local saint whose Life has not come down rather than Saint Isaac of Difre, the martyr commemorated on 6 Bashans.
MAURICE MARTIN, S.J.
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