The Monastery of the Syrians as a Pilgrimage Destination

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Amir Harrak



Since the early sixth century, the desert of Scetis attracted pilgrims from as far as Mesopotamia, who lived with desert fathers, worshipped with them, and translated their monastic works from Coptic to Syriac. From the eighth to the fourteenth centuries, the Monastery of Theotokos of Abba Bishoi, also located in Scetis, became the pilgrimage destination of monks, traders, and lay people coming from Mesopotamia, Syria and Anatolia, and they were so numerous that the pilgrimage complex became known as the Monastery of the Syrians. Pilgrims left their traces on the walls of the church in the shape of graffiti written in Syriac, as well as in terms of monumental wall paintings that reflect the theology and the spiritualty of the Coptic and Syriac Churches. Pilgrims also showered the monastery with unique donations, namely Syriac manuscripts, some truly rare, making it the wealthiest of all Near Eastern monasteries in this literary bequeathing.



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