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E02450: Fragments of a Coptic Encomion with Life and Miracles of Apa *Moyses/Moses of Abydos (S01478) relating the saint's various visions, his clairvoyance and healing powers, mentioning his celebration of the feast day of Apa *Shenoute of Atripe (abbot of the White Monastery, ob. c. 465, S00688) and his general request that Saints' (S00518) feast days are to be observed; written probably in the 6th/7th c.

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posted on 2017-03-05, 00:00 authored by gschenke
IFAO Copte 22–29, 98–100, 263 and 314, pp. 53–60 and 129–144:

The narrative presenting the Life and Miracles of Apa Moses takes the form of an encomion, beginning with the saint’s parents and closing with an account of miracles performed at the saint’s burial site or shrine, see $E03584. Throughout the delivery of his encomion, the author addresses his audience directly as ‘brothers’ or ‘beloved ones’.

The fragments begin with Apa Moses in the midst of his brothers defeating a force of evil and receiving a visit from Christ who encourages him and promises Moyses to act as his helper in the fight against the devil, foretelling him his future fame:

IFAO Copte 98r, p. 53, col. 1, line 1–col. 2, line 4 (Ed. Uljas, p. 378 and 386):

Ϯⲛⲁⲕⲱⲧ ⲛⲁⲕ ⲛⲟⲩⲏⲓ ⲉⲧⲣⲉⲡⲉⲕⲥⲡⲉⲣⲙⲁ ⲟⲩⲱϩ ⲛϩⲏⲧϥ ⲉⲩⲣⲡⲙⲉⲉⲩⲉ ϣⲁ ⲉⲛⲉϩ · ⲁⲩⲱ ϯⲛⲁⲧⲣⲉⲡⲉⲕⲣⲁⲛ ϫⲓ ⲉⲟⲟⲩ ϩⲙ ⲙⲁ ⲛⲓⲙ ⁖ –

‘I will build a house for you to let your seed dwell in it, being commemorated eternally. I will cause your name to be praised everywhere.’

The saint’s appearance and abilities are described as follows:

IFAO Copte 98r, p. 53, col. 2, line 8–IFAO Copte 98v, p. 54, col. 2, line 2 (Ed. Uljas, p. 378–379 and
p. 386–387):

ⲛⲉⲥⲛⲏⲩ ⲇⲉ ⲛⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲱⲥⲏⲥ ⲁⲩⲛⲁⲩ ⲉⲡⲉϥϩⲟ · ⲉϥϣⲟⲟⲡ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲛⲟϭ ⲛⲉⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲛ ⲟⲩⲭⲁⲣⲓⲥ · ϩⲙ ⲡⲧⲣⲉⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ϣⲁϫⲉ ⲛⲙⲙⲁϥ · ⲁⲩⲱ
ⲧⲉⲓⲭⲁⲣⲓⲥ ⲛⲧⲉⲓⲙⲓⲛⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲉⲓⲉⲟⲟⲩ · ⲛⲉⲩϣⲟⲟⲡ ϩⲙ ⲡⲉϥϩⲟ ⲛⲛⲉϥϩⲟⲟⲩ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ · ⲕⲁⲧⲁ ⲑⲉ ⲉⲧⲉⲣⲉⲛⲉⲛⲧⲁⲩⲛⲁⲩ ⲉⲣⲟϥ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲣⲙⲛⲧⲣⲉ
ϫⲉ ⲉⲣⲉ ⲡⲉϥϩⲟ ⲣⲟⲟⲩⲧ ⲛⲟⲩⲟⲉⲓϣ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲛⲑⲉ ⲛⲛⲉⲧⲧⲁϩⲉ ϩⲁ ⲡⲏⲣⲡ ⁖– ⲁⲩⲱ ⲟⲩϣⲡⲏⲣⲉ ⲛϩⲟⲩⲟ ⲧⲉ ⲧⲁⲓ ϫⲉ ⲙⲛⲛⲥⲁ ⲛⲉⲓϩⲕⲟ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲓⲉⲓⲃⲉ ·
ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲓⲟⲩϣⲏ ⲛⲣⲟⲉⲓⲥ · ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲓϣⲗⲏⲗ ⲉϫⲉⲛⲱϫⲛ · ⲛⲉⲣⲉ ⲡⲉϥϩⲟ ⲣⲟⲟⲩⲧ · ⲉϥϣⲟⲩⲉⲣⲁϣⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲛ ⲧⲉⲭⲁⲣⲓⲥ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ · ⲧⲁⲓ ⲛⲧⲁⲥ
ϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲛⲁϥ ⲛϣⲃⲏⲣⲣϩⲱⲃ ⁖–
ⲟⲩⲟⲛ ⲛⲓⲙ ϭⲉ ⲉⲧⲛⲏⲩ ϣⲁⲣⲟϥ ⲉⲩϣⲱⲛⲉ ⲛⲉⲣⲉ ⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲭⲁⲣⲓⲍⲉ ⲛⲁⲩ ⲙⲡⲧⲁⲗϭⲟ ⲛⲉⲧⲟⲩⲉⲛⲱⲭⲗⲉⲓ ⲛⲁⲩ ϩⲓⲧⲉⲛ ⲛⲉ ⲡⲛⲁ ⲛⲁⲕⲁⲑⲁⲣⲧⲟⲛ ·
ⲛⲉⲩⲙⲁⲧⲉ ⲙⲡⲧⲁⲗϭⲟ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲓⲧⲟⲟⲧϥ ⁖–

‘The brethren of Apa Moses saw his face filled with great glory and grace when the Lord spoke to him. And this grace and glory of the said sort remained on his face all his days, according to how all those who saw him testified: “His face was always joyful just like those who are drunk with wine.” And this is a great miracle that after these periods of hunger and thirst, these night vigils and incessant prayers, his face was joyful, pouring out happiness through the grace of God, which became a co-worker for him. Everyone then who was coming to him suffering from an illness, the Lord granted them healing. Those who were possessed by unclean spirits, they obtained healing through him.’

Apa Moses had many more visions, one of an angel who outlined the walls of his future monastery for him. Apa Moses then settled at that spot with a handful of men and received many visitors with ailments who were granted healing through his prayers. In return the monks received assistance with the building of their monastery (IFAO Copte 99v, p. 56 ed. Uljas, p. 388–389).

When a servant of a local dignitary became possessed by a demon, water from the well of the saint’s monastery and some bread, both blessed by the saint, were brought to the patient. The blessed water was poured over him and the demon cried out. He came out of him howling like a dog. Then the patient was given the blessed bread to eat whereupon he was completely freed and healed (IFAO Copte 314r.v, p. 57–58 ed. Uljas, p. 389–390).

The dignitary then came to visit the monastery and instructed his men to help and protect the monks and their monastery in whatever way needed. He received a blessing from the saint before setting off on a mission to meet the emperor in Constantinople, and thus Apa Moses’ fame spread through the capital resulting in annual donations of wheat for the monastery of Apa Moses (IFAO Copte 100r.v, p. 59–69 ed. Uljas, p. 390–391).

IFAO Copte 100v, p. 60, col. 2, lines 18–25:

ⲡⲣⲣⲟ ⲇⲉ ⲁϥⲟⲩⲉϩ ⲥⲁϩⲛⲉ ⲉⲧⲣⲉⲩϯ ⲛϩⲉⲛⲡⲟⲣⲟⲥ ⲛⲥⲟⲩⲟ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲉϥⲙⲟⲛⲁⲥⲧⲏⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲕⲁⲧⲁ ⲣⲟⲙⲡⲉ : ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲁⲓ ⲥⲉⲙⲏⲛ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϣⲁ ϩⲣⲁⲓ
ⲉⲡⲟⲟⲩ ⲛϩⲟⲟⲩ

‘The emperor gave an order that there be made annual provisions of wheat to his monastery. These are continuing until the present day.’

Apa Moses also became famous as a prophet foretelling people’s fate.

IFAO Copte 22r, p. 129, col. 2, lines 14–25:

ⲁⲡϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲙⲡⲇⲟⲩⲝ ϯⲥⲟⲉⲓⲧ ⲉⲁⲧⲉⲡⲣⲟⲫⲏⲧⲓⲁ ⲙⲡⲉⲛⲉⲓⲱⲧ ϫⲱⲕ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ · ϩⲱⲥⲧⲉ ⲛⲥⲉⲣϣⲡⲏⲣⲉ ⲙⲡⲉϥⲥⲟⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲧϫⲏⲕ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ · ⲙⲛ ⲑⲉ
ⲉⲧⲉⲣⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲧⲟⲩⲛⲟⲩ ⲉⲓⲁⲧⲟⲩ ⲛⲛⲉϥⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛⲛⲉⲧⲛⲁϣⲱⲡⲉ ⁖–

‘The son of the dux achieved fame as the prophecy of our father was fulfilled. One marvelled at his clairvoyance and the way in which God reveals to his saints the things to come.’

As saints receive great gifts from God, let’s all become like them:

IFAO Copte 22v, p. 130, col. 1, lines 1–8:

ⲁⲧⲉⲧⲛⲛⲁⲩ ⲱ ⲛⲁⲙⲉⲣⲁⲧⲉ ⲉⲛⲉⲓⲛⲟϭ ⲛⲭⲁⲣⲓⲥⲙⲁ ⲉⲧⲉⲣⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲉⲓⲣⲉ ⲙⲙⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲛⲉϥⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲙⲁⲣⲉⲛⲕⲱϩ ⲇⲉ ⲉⲡⲃⲓⲟⲥ ⲛⲛⲉⲓⲣⲱⲙⲉ

‘You have seen, O my beloved ones, these great gifts which God grants to his saints. Let us therefore emulate the lives of such people.’

Whoever came to Apa Moses in need, whether with an illness or a matter of injustice, he would help and solve their problems. Visitors would come on Saturday to stay the night until Sunday, when he would preach to them. Here the saint’s warning words are quoted in a model sermon (IFAO Copte 23r–25v, p. 131–136, ed. Uljas, p. 414–417).

IFAO Copte 23v, p. 132, col. 1, lines 11–22:

ⲣⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲉⲡⲉⲧⲛⲙⲁ ⲛⲉⲛⲕⲟⲧⲕ ϩⲛ ⲧⲃⲃⲟ ⲛⲓⲙ · ⲛⲧⲉⲧⲛϩⲁⲣⲉϩ ⲉⲡⲥⲁⲃⲃⲁⲧⲟⲛ ⲙⲛ ⲧⲕⲩⲣⲓⲁⲕⲏ · ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉϩⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲧⲉⲥⲥⲉⲣⲁⲕⲟⲥⲧⲏ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲉϩⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲛⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲛⲧⲁ ⲛⲉⲛⲉⲓⲟⲧⲉ ⲛⲁⲡⲟⲥⲧⲟⲗⲟⲥ ⲕⲁⲁⲩ ⲛⲁⲛ ⲉϩⲣⲁⲓ ·

‘Guard your bed in all purity and observe the Sabbath as well as the Day of the Lord and the Forty days (of Lent), and also the days of the saints which our fathers, the apostles, established for us.’

The saint is then being prepared for his death through a series of visions in which angels are informing him about how much time he has left and what will happen to him and his brothers. Prior to leaving this world, he is shown his future heavenly dwellings.

IFAO Copte 28v–29r, p. 142, col. 1, line 13– p. 143, col. 1, line 25:

ⲁⲥϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲇⲉ ⲛⲥⲟⲩ ⲥⲁϣϥ ⲙⲡⲉⲃⲟⲧ ⲉⲡⲏⲡ ⲉϥⲁϩⲉⲣⲁⲧϥ ⲉϥϣⲗⲏⲗ · ⲉⲓⲥ ⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲥⲛⲁⲩ ⲛⲟⲩⲟⲉⲓⲛ ⲁⲩⲁϩⲉⲣⲁⲧⲟⲩ ϩⲓϫⲱϥ ⲡⲉϫⲁⲩ ⲛⲁϥ ϫⲉ
ϯⲣⲏⲛⲏ ⲛⲁⲕ ⲡϣⲟⲉⲓϫ ⲙⲡⲉⲭⲥ · ⲛⲧⲁ ⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲧⲛⲛⲟⲟⲩⲛ ϣⲁⲣⲟⲕ ⲉⲧⲣⲉⲛⲕⲁⲗⲉⲓ ⲙⲙⲟⲕ ⲉⲡⲇⲓⲡⲛⲟⲛ ⲙⲡⲉⲭⲥ · ϫⲉ ⲕⲉⲙⲛⲧϣⲙⲏⲛ ⲛϩⲟⲟⲩ
ⲛⲉ ⲛⲅⲉⲓ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲙ ⲡⲉⲓⲕⲟⲥⲙⲟⲥ ⲛⲅⲉⲓ ϩⲁϩⲧⲏⲛ · ⲛⲧⲉⲣⲟⲩϫⲉ ⲛⲁⲓ ⲇⲉ ⲛⲁϥ ⲁϥⲗⲟ ⲉϥⲛⲁⲩ ⲉⲣⲟⲟⲩ · ϣⲱⲣⲡ ⲇⲉ ⲛⲧⲕⲩⲣⲓⲁⲕⲏ ⲁϥⲥⲩⲛⲁⲅⲉ
ⲙⲡⲗⲁⲟⲥ ϩⲛ ⲛⲉϥϭⲓϫ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲥⲛⲏⲩ ⲁϥⲕⲁⲑⲏⲅⲉⲓ ⲙⲙⲟⲟⲩ ϩⲙ ⲡⲣⲡⲙⲉⲉⲩⲉ ⲙⲡⲉⲡⲣⲟⲫⲏⲧⲏⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ ϣⲉⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲙⲡⲧⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲁⲧⲣⲡⲉ ⁖– ϩⲣⲁⲓ
ⲇⲉ ϩⲛ ⲥⲟⲩ ⲙⲏⲧ ⲛⲉⲡⲏⲡ ⲉⲧⲉⲓ ⲉϥϣⲗⲏⲗ ⲁϥϣⲱⲡⲉ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲉⲕⲥⲧⲁⲥⲓⲥ · ⲁⲩϫⲓⲧϥ ϩⲙ ⲡⲉⲡⲛⲁ ⲁⲩⲧⲥⲁⲃⲟϥ ⲉϩⲉⲛⲙⲁ ⲛϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲉⲙⲛ ⲑⲉ
ⲛϣⲁϫⲉ ⲉⲡⲉⲩⲉⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲉⲩⲥⲧⲓⲛⲟⲩϥⲉ ⁖– ⲁϥϣⲁϫⲉ ⲇⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲧⲙⲟϣⲉ ⲛⲙⲙⲁϥ ϫⲉ ⲛⲁ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲛⲉ ⲛⲁⲓ · ⲡⲉϫⲁⲩ ϫⲉ ⲛⲧⲁⲩⲭⲁⲣⲓⲍⲉ ⲙⲙⲟⲩ ⲛⲁⲕ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲕϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲛϣⲃⲃⲓⲱ ⲛⲛⲉⲧⲛϩⲓⲥⲉ ⲉⲡⲉⲓⲇⲏ ⲁⲡⲉⲟⲩⲟⲉⲓϣ ⲙⲡⲉⲕϭⲙⲡϣⲓⲛⲉ ϩⲱⲛ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ · ⲛⲧⲁ ⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲧⲛⲛⲟⲟⲩⲛ ϣⲁⲣⲟⲕ
ⲉⲧⲣⲉⲛⲥⲗⲥⲱⲗⲕ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϫⲉ ⲁⲕⲙⲓϣⲉ ϩⲙ ⲡⲁⲅⲱⲛ ⲉⲧⲛⲁⲛⲟⲩϥ ⲁⲕϫⲣⲟ ⲉⲡⲇⲓⲁⲃⲟⲗⲟⲥ ⁖– ϯ ⲇⲉ ⲉⲧⲟⲟⲧϥ ⲙⲡⲁⲩⲗⲟⲥ ⲡⲉⲕⲥⲟⲛ ⲙⲡⲟⲟϩⲉ ⲛⲧⲁ
ⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲧⲁⲁϥ ⲛⲁⲕ ⁖–

‘It then happened on day seven of the month of Epeiph (1 July, feast day of Shenoute), as he stood praying, behold, two luminous men stood by him and said to him: “Peace be with you, O athlete of Christ! The Lord sent us to you so that we might summon you to the banquet of Christ. Another eighteen days and you will depart from this world and come to us.” After they had said these things to him, he saw them no more. On Sunday morning he personally gave communion to the people and the brothers, and he instructed them through the commemoration of the prophet Apa Shenoute of the monastery at Atripe.
On the tenth day of Epeiph, while he was still praying, he descended into a trance. He was seized by the spirit and shown dwellings whose glory and sweet odour were beyond words. He asked those who were walking with him: “To whom do these belong?” They said: “They have been granted to you and your children as a requital of your toils, because the time of your visitation has drawn near. For the Lord sent us to you so that we might console you, because you have fought the good fight and you have vanquished the devil. Entrust your brother Paul with the flock with which the Lord has entrusted you.”’

Apa Moses then falls ill, prepares the monks for his departure, and announces his successor.

(Text and trans.: S. Uljas, slightly modified)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Moyses/Moses, Apa Moyses of Abydos, monk and abbot in Upper Egypt : S01478 Shenoute, abbot of the White Monastery near Akhmim/Panopolis (Upper Egypt), ob. c. 465. : S00688 Saints, unnamed : S00518

Saint Name in Source

ⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲱⲥⲏⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ ϣⲉⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles Literary - Sermons/Homilies 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

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

Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting/veneration of living saint

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Exorcism Healing diseases and disabilities Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future) Juridical interventions

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Angels

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - water and other liquids Contact relic - other


The thirteen parchment leaves kept at the Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale in Cairo (IFAO 22–29, 98–100, 263 and 314) once formed part of codex MONB.EL originally found at the White Monastery. The text of the Life and Miracles of Apa Moyses is preserved in at least two fragmentary parchment codices with pages dispersed over collections in Cairo, Cambridge, London, Naples, Paris, and Vienna. The range of the dates for the manuscripts seems to be the 9th–11th century according to layout and script.


For other fragments of this text see E03584.


Text and translation: Uljas, S., "The IFAO Leaves of the Life of Moses of Abydos," Orientalia 80:4 (2011), 373–422.

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