Newly Discovered Saints

The remains of several saints and martyrs of the Coptic Church have been newly discovered. While the ambo of the Church of Abu Sarjah in Cairo was being restored, some bones were brought to light on 25 April 1991. There were identified as the relics of Saint Bashnufa, who was mentioned in the History of the Patriarchs, and the story of whose martyrdom was composed in 1164. This martyr, according to the History of the Patriarchs, was

A monk (who) was martyred at their hands (of the mob). His name was Shanufah (or Bashnufa) from the monastery of Abba Macarius. They seized him and gave him the choice of converting to Islam, but he refused to do so and they killed him, and they intended to burn his body, but the Christians took it, and they buried it in the Church of Abu Sargah in Cairo on the 24th day of the month Bashans of the year eight hundred and eight of the Martyrs = 1092 A.D.

Polish archaeologists working at the site of the Monastery of St Gabriel, Naqlun Fayyum, in 1990 discovered thirteen complete bodies of men, women and children, bearing traces of torture. They were considered to be martyrs, but the circumstance of their deaths is unknown. The remains of Simeon the Tanner were discovered in the Church of the Virgin Babylon al-Darag in August 1991.

Finally, it needs to be said that Coptic hagiography is not a closed book. We can see that almost every year new names are added to the list of saints, martyrs, and miracle workers. The situation for the Coptic Church in Egypt is still one in which there is enormous pressure from militants who wish to establish an Islamic state and to deny the provision for Christians to practise their faith.

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