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E01222: Coptic Miracles of Apa *Mena/Menas (soldier and martyr of Abu Mena, S00073), containing 17 miracles, attributed to Apa Theophilos, archbishop of Alexandria (385–412).

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posted on 2016-03-23, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Collection of the miracles of Apa Mena, attributed to Theophilos, Bishop of Alexandria (385-412)

The introduction is given as follows:

[ⲛⲁⲓ] ϩ[ⲱⲟⲩ] ⲛⲉ ⲛ[ⲉ]ϭ[ⲟⲙ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉ]ϣⲡⲏⲣ[ⲉ ⲛ]ⲧⲁⲩϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲓⲧⲟⲟⲧϥ ⲙⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲏⲛⲁ · ⲙⲛⲛⲥⲁ ⲧⲉϥⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲓⲁ ·
ⲉⲁϥϩⲓⲥⲧⲱⲣⲓⲍⲉ ⲛϩⲉⲛ ⲕⲟⲩⲓ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛϩⲏⲧⲟⲩ ⲛϭⲓ ⲡⲙⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲑⲉⲟⲫⲓⲗⲟⲥ ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲓⲉⲡⲓⲥⲕⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲛⲣⲁⲕⲟⲧⲉ · ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲉⲓⲣⲏⲛⲏ ⲛⲧⲉ
ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ϩⲁⲙⲏⲛ

'[These] are the miracles and wonders which occurred through saint Apa Mena following his martyrdom, a few of them related (here) by Apa Theophilos, the archbishop of Alexandria. In peace of God. Amen.'

The account begins with the description of the martyrdom of Apa Mena who, as a soldier in the regiment called Loutouriakon withdrew from his regiment into the desert to escape the demand to worship idols. He lived in solitude in the desert with just a few camels to live off. The surplus of the camels’ labours, he donated to the poor. He blessed his camels regularly and they would bow down before him in reverence. Apa Mena’s piety is demonstrated by prayer day and night and daily fasting until the evening. Eventually an angel is sent to him to summon him to go to Pyrrhus, the hegemon, to confess his faith and complete his martyrdom. Instructions are given to him as to what should be done with his body, i.e. to have it put on an unaccompanied camel, which will then be guided by an angel to its chosen burial place. Apa Mena then entrusts his camels to a fellow countryman who promises to donate them to his martyr shrine, and proceeds to fulfil his martyrdom.

Miracle One (The negligent camel herdsman):
The camel herdsman to whom Apa Mena entrusted his animals vows to dedicate the first born of his barren camel to the saint’s shrine, if only Apa Mena would enable the camel to have offspring. Once his camel gives birth, the herdsman ignores his vow. As a punishment Apa Mena removes the camel with her offspring from him and brings them to his shrine. The camel herdsman looking for them eventually arrives at the shrine where he finds his animals. As a result, he makes a large donation and even remains himself as a lifelong servant at the shrine.

ed. Drescher, p. 12, column II, lines 11–29:
ϩⲧⲟⲟⲩⲉ ⲇⲉ ⲛⲧⲉⲣⲉϥϣⲱⲡⲉ [ⲁϥ]ⲧⲱⲟⲩⲛ ⲛϭⲓ [ⲡⲣ]ⲱⲙⲉ · ⲁϥϥ[ⲓ ⲛⲛⲉ]ϥⲧⲃⲛⲟⲟⲩⲉ [ⲧⲏⲣⲟ]ⲩ ⲙⲛ ⲛ[ⲕⲁ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲉ]ⲧϣ[ⲟⲟ]ⲡ [ⲛⲁϥ ⲁϥ]ⲧⲁⲁ[ⲩ ⲉ]ϩ[ⲟⲩⲛ] ⲉⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲛⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲏⲛⲁ · [ⲁⲩ]ⲱ ⲁⲡ[ⲟⲓ]ⲕⲟⲛⲟⲙ[ⲟⲥ] ⲁⲁϥ ⲛⲁⲡ[ⲉ] ⲉⲛⲉϭⲁⲙⲟⲩⲗ ⲙⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ · ⲁϥϭⲱ [ⲉϥ ⲟ ⲛϩⲙ]ϩⲁⲗ [ⲙⲡ]ϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲏⲛⲁ [ϣⲁ] ⲡⲉϩⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲉϥⲙⲟⲩ
'When it was morning, the man rose. He brought all his animals and anything he owned and donated them to the topos of Apa Mena. The oikonomos made him "head of the camels" of the topos. He remained a servant to saint Apa Mena until the day of his death.'

Miracle Two (The resurrection of a murdered pilgrim):
A rich man living in Alexandria decides to make a donation of 3,000 solidi at the shrine. On his pilgrimage, he is killed by a man hosting him for the night, but is resurrected through the power of the saint. Both the former murderer and the resurrected pilgrim then make their way to the shrine of Apa Mena donating together a total of 5,000 solidi.

ed. Drescher, p. 17, column I, lines 2–20:
[ⲡⲣⲱ]ⲙⲉ [ⲇⲉ ⲛⲧⲉⲣⲉϥ]ⲛⲁⲩ ⲉⲧ[ⲛⲟϭ ⲛϭⲟ]ⲙ ⲛⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲏⲛⲁ · ⲁϥ[ϥⲓ ⲛ]ⲕⲉϫⲟⲩⲱⲧ ⲛ[ϣⲉ] ⲛϩⲟⲗⲟⲕⲟⲧⲧⲓⲛⲟⲥ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲡⲕⲉⲙⲁⲁⲃ ⲛϣⲉ ⲙⲡⲉⲛⲧⲁϥⲧⲱⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲛ ⲛⲉⲧⲙⲟⲟⲩⲧ · ⲉⲧⲉ ⲛⲁⲓ ⲛⲉ ϯⲟⲩ ⲛϣⲟ ⲛϩⲟⲗⲟⲕⲟⲧⲧⲓⲛⲟⲥ · ⲁⲩⲙⲟⲟϣⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲩⲉⲣⲏⲩ · ϣⲁⲛⲧⲟⲩⲡⲱϩ ⲉⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲛⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲏⲛⲁ · ⲁⲩⲧⲁ[ⲁⲩ] ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲉϥⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲉⲩⲣⲁϣⲉ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲉⲩϯⲉⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲙⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲏⲛⲁ
'When the man (i.e. the killer host) had seen the great power of Apa Mena, he took another 2,000 solidi in addition to the 3,000 of the one who had risen from the dead, this making 5,000 solidi. They walked together, until they reached the topos of Apa Mena. They donated the money to his shrine rejoicing and glorifying the God of saint Apa Mena.'

Miracle Three (The donation of a silver plate):
A rich man from Alexandria intended to donate one of his two silver plates (pinax) to the shrine of Apa Mena, but decided to keep the more exquisite one of the pair for himself. On his way to make the donation, his young servant boy drowned in an attempt to retrieve one of the precious silver plates which had fallen into the water. His master appeals to the saint for help, and the boy—complete with dish—is miraculously saved. Master and servant make their way to the shrine of Apa Mena, and the master acts as follows:

ed. Drescher, p. 21, col. II, line 30–p. 22, col. I, line 5:
ⲁϥϯ ⲙⲡⲡⲓⲛⲝ ⲥⲛⲁⲩ ⲛϩⲁⲧ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲉϥⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲕⲉⲕⲟⲩⲓ ⲛϩⲙϩⲁⲗ ⲉⲧⲣⲉϥϭⲱ ⲉϥⲇⲓⲁⲕⲟⲛⲉⲓ ϣⲁ ⲡⲉϩⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲉϥⲙⲟⲩ
'He donated the two silver plates to his topos and also the young servant boy, so that he would remain serving (there) until the day of his death.'

Fragmentary Miracle Four (The rescue of a female pilgrim from attempted rape by a soldier):
A childless woman from Philoxenite decides to take all her possessions on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Apa Mena, in order to donate them there, most likely in the hope of gaining offspring. Without telling her husband or anyone else, she walks alone into the desert. Near the location of the shrine of *Thekla (S00092), she meets a soldier … [In the Greek version of this miracle, the soldier attempts to rape her. Being the pilgrim of Apa Mena she is rescued not by the powers of Thekla whose shrine is nearer to the scene, but by Apa Mena himself who is responsible for her.]

Fragmentary miracle Fourteen (The punishment of a thief and the piety of his wife):
The wife of a man punished by the saint in his shrine tends to her husband until he dies, after which she makes a large offering to the shrine including all her earthly riches and her sheep. Additionally, she visited the shrine every year to make a votive offering.

Miracle Fifteen (The expulsion of a demon from an Alexandrian man):
While pilgrims from Alexandria are bringing a young man to the shrine of Apa Mena, because he had been suffering under a demon for seventeen years, Apa Mena appears to them on the road in the disguise of a soldier. He takes the troublesome patient from then and rides with him back to his shrine. There he troubles the demon by hanging the man upside down. When the demon promises to leave the man, they let him down and bring him to the crypt (katabasis) where the saint’s body was located.

ed. Drescher, p. 25, col. I, line 28–col. II, line 32:
ⲁⲩϫⲓⲧϥ ⲉⲡⲉⲥⲏⲧ ⲉⲧⲕⲁⲧⲁⲃⲁⲥⲓⲥ · ⲉⲡⲙⲁ ⲙⲡⲥⲱⲙⲁ ⲙⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲏⲛⲁ ⲁⲡⲟⲓⲕⲟⲛⲟⲙⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ϫⲓ ⲛⲟⲩⲕⲟⲩⲓ ⲛⲛⲉϩ ϩⲙ ⲡⲉⲫⲁⲛⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲙⲟⲩϩ [ⲉ]ⲡⲥⲱⲙⲁ ⲙⲡⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ · ⲁϥⲥⲫⲣⲁⲅⲓⲍⲉ ⲙⲙⲟϥ · ⲁⲩⲥⲱⲧⲙ ⲇⲉ ⲉⲡⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲉϥϣⲁϫⲉ ⲛⲙⲙⲁϥ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩϣⲱⲱⲧ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲉϥϫⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ⲁⲙⲟⲩ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲙ ⲡⲉⲡⲗⲁⲥⲙⲁ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛϥⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ⲡⲁⲕⲁⲑⲁⲣⲧⲟⲛ · ⲁⲓⲉⲓ ⲅⲁⲣ ϫⲉ [ⲉⲓ]ⲛⲁⲡⲁⲧⲁⲥⲥⲉ ⲙⲙⲟⲕ ϩⲛ ⲧⲉϩⲓⲏ · ⲁⲗⲗⲁ ⲛⲧⲁⲓⲉⲛⲧⲕ ⲉⲡⲉⲓⲙⲁ · ϫⲉⲕⲁⲥ ⲉⲓⲉϯϣ[ⲓ]ⲡⲉ ⲛⲁⲕ · ϩⲛ ⲧⲙⲏⲧⲉ ⲛⲛⲉⲓⲙⲏⲏϣⲉ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲉⲧⲛⲏⲩ ⲉⲡⲁⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ ⲁϥⲣⲟⲩϣⲁϩ ⲛⲕⲱϩⲧ · ⲁϥⲓ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛϩⲏⲧϥ ⲁⲡⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ · ⲁϥϯ ⲛⲧⲉϥⲡⲣⲟⲥⲫⲟⲣⲁ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ·
'They took him down to the crypt (katabasis), to the location of the body of saint Apa Mena. The oikonomos of the topos took a bit of oil from the lamp which was burning by the saint’s body. He made the sign of the cross on him. They heard the holy martyr speaking with him in a fierce manner, saying: "Come out of God’s creation, unclean one, and he is well. For I came (originally) in order to strike you on the road. But I have put you down here (now) in order to shame you in the midst of all these masses who come to my shrine." Immediately he (the demon) turned into a flame of fire. He came out of him. The man was well immediately and gave his offering to the shrine.'

Miracle Sixteen (The rescue of a female Samaritan pilgrim from attempted rape by an innkeeper):
A Samaritan woman suffering severe headaches decides to visit the shrine of Apa Mena. On her way, an innkeeper attempts to rape her. She is eventually delivered from both evils, saved from the rapist and healed from her headaches. She becomes a Christian and donates herself to the shrine as a lifelong servant.

ed. Drescher, p. 31, col. II, lines 14–18:
ⲁⲥϭⲱ [ⲉⲥ]ⲇⲓⲁⲕⲟⲛⲉⲓ ϩⲙ ⲡⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲓⲟⲛ ϣⲁ ⲡⲉϩⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲉⲥⲙⲟⲩ
'She remained serving in the martyr shrine until the day of her death.'

Even the rapist, punished by an illness that petrified his hand, was brought into the same shrine and received healing only after he vowed that he would remain there as a servant for the rest of his life.

ed. Drescher, p. 32, col. I, lines 24–27:
[ⲛϯⲛⲁⲥⲉ]ⲛ[ⲧ] ⲡⲉⲕⲧⲟ[ⲡⲟⲥ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲁⲛ ⲉ]ⲓⲟ ⲛϩ[ⲙϩⲁⲗ ⲛⲁ]ⲕ ϣⲁ ⲡⲉϩ[ⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲁ]ⲙⲟⲩ
'I shall not leave your topos, being a servant for you until the day I die.'

The rapist is then healed by the oil from the lamp burning in front of the saint’s body, which the priest puts on his petrified hand. In gratitude, he donates all his belonging to the shrine and remains there himself as a servant for the rest of his life.

ed. Drescher, p. 32, col. II, lines 14–29:
ⲁ[ⲡⲉⲡⲣⲉ]ⲥⲃⲩⲧⲉⲣⲟⲥ ϫⲓ ⲙⲡⲛⲉϩ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩ[ⲙ ⲡ]ⲫⲁⲛⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲙⲟⲩϩ ϩⲓⲑⲏ ⲙⲡⲥⲱⲙⲁ ⲙⲡⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁ[ⲁⲃ · ⲁϥ]ⲥⲫⲣⲁⲅⲓⲍⲉ ⲛⲧⲉϥϭⲓϫ · ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ · ⲁϥⲗⲟ [ⲉⲃⲟⲗ] ϩⲙ ⲡϯⲧⲕⲁⲥ · ⲡⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲇⲉ ⲁϥϯ ⲙⲡⲉⲧⲛⲧⲁϥ ⲧⲏⲣϥ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲛⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲏⲛⲁ · ⲁϥϭⲱ ⲉϥⲇⲓⲁⲕⲟⲛⲉⲓ ϩⲙ ⲡⲉϥⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ϣⲁ ⲡⲉϩⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲉϥⲙⲟⲩ
'The priest took the oil from the lamp burning in front of the saint’s body and made the sign of the cross on his hand. Immediately, he was healed from the pain. The man donated all he owned to the topos of Apa Mena and remained serving in his topos until the day of his death.'

Miracle Seventeen (The water miracle):
At the time of a severe drought, multitudes, men, women, and children gathered at the shrine suffering from thirst. Rows of camels were sent to draw water from wells near the lake, but this still was not enough. People approached the chief presbyter and oikonomos of the shrine in despair. They told them to go down into the crypt and kneel before the saint’s body and implore him to ask Christ to grant them what they need


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Menas, soldier and martyr Abu Mena : S00073 Thekla, follower of Apostle Paul : S00092 Michael, the Archangel : S00181

Saint Name in Source

ⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲏⲛⲁ ⲑⲉⲕⲗⲁ ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment codex


  • Coptic

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica Egypt and Cyrenaica Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Alexandria Abu Mina

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Alexandria Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis Abu Mina Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - crypt/ crypt with relics

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Punishing miracle Miracle with animals and plants Healing diseases and disabilities Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather) Power over life and death Material support (supply of food, water, drink, money) Invisibility, bilocation, miraculous travels Miraculous protection - of people and their property Exorcism

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Children Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Soldiers Officials Other lay individuals/ people Crowds

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Oil lamps/candles


This account of miracles (Pierpont Morgan Codex 590 fol. 19r– 49v) directly follows the account of the martyrdom of Apa Mena (E01221), Pierpont Morgan Codex 590 fol. 1r–18v, and precedes the encomium on Apa Mena (E01223), fol. 50r–68v. The colophon of the parchment codex gives the year 892/893 AD. This manuscript, as well as the other Pierpont Morgan codices were found at the site of the monastery of Saint Michael at Hamouli in the Fayum. The miracles are numbered in the text and make up seventeen miracles. But as the text is fragmentary, only the first three and the last three (miracles 15–17) are intact. Of miracle 4 only the beginning is preserved, while of miracle 14 it is only the end; the nine between 4 and 14 are completely lost. Many of these miracles are known from Greek collections of Menas' miracles, which, however, in their two different recensions never seem to record more than thirteen miracles.


The miracle account shows the typical mixture of healing, punishing, and rescuing miracles. Though, if one assumes that the missing Coptic miracles were identical with the known Greek miracles, then there are twice as many punishing miracles (eight) as healing miracles (four), in addition to miracles concerned with the rescue of pilgrims from dangerous situations (five). Since at the beginning of the account, when the angel announces what lies in store for the saint, no mention is made concerning a return of his remains to Egypt, it seems that the martyrdom itself is treated as if having taken place in Egypt rather than in Phrygia, as was the case in the martyrdom account preceding this text. For the Greek Miracles see E07440–E07453.


Edition and translation: Drescher, J., Apa Mena: A Selection of Coptic Texts Relating to St. Menas (Cairo 1946), 7–34 (text); 104–125 (introduction and translation). Further reading: Grossmann, P., "The Pilgrimage Center of Abu Mina," in: D. Frankfurter (eds.), Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt (Leiden, 2015), 281–302. Grossmann, P., "Abu Mina, Ägypten: Das Pilgerzentrum," e-Forschungsberichte des deutschen archäologischen Instituts 2015-1, pp. 1-3: Litinas, N., Greek Ostraca from Abu Mina (O.Abu Mina) (Archiv für Papyrusforschung und verwandte Gebiete, Beiheft 25; Berlin, 2008). Ward-Perkins, J.B., "The Shrine of St. Menas in the Maryût," Papers of the British School at Rome 17 (1949), 26–71.

Continued Description

. When they did this, men and women imploring the saint to have mercy on his people gathered around him, the holy martyr spoke from the grave asking Christ to produce water in the desert. Immediately the archangel *Michael appeared and struck the rock with his rod, so that water poured forth, filling a large area. Everybody drank and glorified God. At the end of the account, it is mentioned that there are many more, in fact countless miracles wrought by Apa Mena, but these that the archbishop has related here must suffice to make one believe in the saint’s power. A particular gift that God granted the saint is pointed out: that he still speaks out as if alive.ed. Drescher, p. 34, col. II, lines 10–20:ⲁⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲭⲁⲣⲓⲍⲉ ⲙⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲏⲛⲁ · ⲙⲡⲉⲓⲕⲉⲛⲟϭ ⲛϩⲙⲟⲧ · ⲁϥⲕⲱ ⲛⲧⲉϥⲯⲩⲭⲏ · ⲉⲥϭⲁⲗⲱⲟⲩ ⲉⲡⲉϥⲥⲱⲙⲁ · ⲉϥϣⲁϫⲉ ⲙⲛ ϩⲁϩ ⲛⲧⲁⲡⲣⲟ ϩⲓ ⲧⲁⲡⲣⲟ ϩⲛ ⲧⲕⲁⲓⲥⲉ ϩⲱⲥ ⲉϣϫⲉ ⲉϥⲟⲛϩ'God granted saint Apa Mena also this great gift: He left his soul dwelling in his body. From the grave he speaks with many mouth to mouth, as if alive.'Text: Drescher 1946. Translation: Gesa Schenke.

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