University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E05116: Coptic Life of Apa *Kyros (S01932), written by Apa Pambo, monk and presbyter of the church at Sketis (Wadi Natrun), written to establish it as a text read out in church, relating Apa Pambo’s excursion into the inner desert searching for this remotest of monks, illustrating his humility and witnessing the miraculous arrival of Christ, the anchorite’s death, as well as the burial undertaken by Christ himself; written perhaps during the 5th/6th century.

online resource
posted on 2018-02-21, 00:00 authored by gschenke
Brit. Mus. Ms. Oriental no. 6783, fol. 23a–30a:

The account is introduced as follows:

Fol. 23a; Budge, p. 128, lines 1–11:

ⲡⲃⲓⲟⲥ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲧⲡⲟⲗⲩϯⲁ ⲙⲡⲉⲛⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲛⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲉⲧⲧⲁⲓⲏⲩ ⲕⲁⲧⲁ ⲥⲙⲟⲧ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲫⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲕⲩⲣⲟⲥ · ⲛⲧⲉⲗⲓⲟⲥ ⲛⲁⲙⲉ ⲛⲧⲁϥϩⲓⲥⲧⲟⲣⲓⲍⲉ
ⲙⲙⲟϥ · ⲛϭⲓ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲡⲁⲙⲃⲱ ⲡⲉⲡⲣⲉⲥⲃⲩⲧⲉⲣⲟⲥ ⲛⲧⲉⲕⲕⲗⲏⲥⲓⲁ ⲛϣⲓⲏⲧ ⲛⲧⲁϥⲙⲧⲟⲛ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ⲛϭⲓ ⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ · ⲁⲡⲁ ⲕⲩⲣⲟⲥ ϩⲛ ⲥⲟⲩ ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ
ⲙⲡⲉⲃⲟⲧ ⲉⲡⲉⲓⲫ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲉⲓⲣⲏⲛⲏ ⲛⲧⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ · ⲉⲣⲉ ⲛϥⲥⲙⲟⲩ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲛⲁⲉⲓ ⲉϩⲣⲁⲓ ⲉϫⲱⲛ ⲛⲧⲛⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϩⲁⲙⲏⲛ ⁖

‘The life and conduct of our holy and in every respect honourable father’, saint Apa Kyros, the truly perfect one, which Apa Pambo, the presbyter of the church at Sketis related. Saint Apa Kyros died on day eight of the month Epeiph (2 July). In God’s peace. May his holy blessings come down on us and may we farewell. Amen.’

The text begins with Apa Pambo receiving a vision instructing him to venture out into the desert in search of the greatest anchorite.

Apa Pambo then sets out on his journey, first arriving at the dwelling of the monk Apa Hierax who claims that he has been awaiting him. Apa Pambo asks him about his remote life and how long he has been living there as a monk. The answer is for 18 years, living only off the fruit provided by a single palm tree. Apa Pambo then inquires, if there are any brothers living further off into the desert to which Hierax replies that there are a few whose blessing he should get.

Apa Pambo then continues his search, reaching the even more remote dwelling place of Apa Pamoun who also claims to have been eagerly waiting for Apa Pambo’s arrival. Asked the same question, how long he has been living in this remote spot and how he manages to survive the summer heat and the winter cold, the answer is that he has endured this life for 20 years with only a single garment serving both seasons alike. When asked whether there was anyone else living even further into the desert, Apa Pamoun answers that there is only one whom he tried to visit, but who refuses to see anyone except for Apa Pamoun of Sketis.

Apa Pambo eventually arrives at the remotes dwelling place of Apa Kyros who was awaiting him. Apa Kyros tells him that he is the brother of Theodosius the emperor, but that he chose this place to avoid the sins committed in this world. Living in complete isolation, Apa Kyros announces that he has only Christ himself as a companion, who visits him.

That night Apa Pambo witnesses the arrival of Christ in Apa Kyros’ cell approaching the anchorite and greeting him like a close friend. Apa Kyros informs Pambo that Christ had just announced the death of Apa Shenoute, the great prophet and archimandrite, on day seven of Epeiph (1 July). Apa Kyros then admits that he himself has fallen ill, preparing his own departure from the world. He asks Pambo to pray for him, utters a prayer himself and dies on day eight of Epeiph (2 July). Christ appears again, this time weeping over the body of the deceased, and the angels, archangels and apostles appear to honour the dead.

Having taken the soul of Apa Kyros, Christ buries the body, just as Apa Pambo was worried about what to do with the remains of the anchorite.

Fol. 30a; Budge, p. 136, lines 5–16:

ⲙⲛⲛⲥⲁ ⲛⲁⲓ ⲁⲓⲁⲡⲟⲣⲉⲓ ϩⲣⲁⲓ ⲛϩⲏⲧ ϫⲉ ⲉⲓⲛⲁⲣ ⲡⲥⲱⲙⲁ ⲙⲡⲙⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲛⲁϣ ⲛϩⲉ · ⲏ ⲉⲓⲛⲁϭⲛⲕⲁⲓⲥⲉ · ⲧⲱⲛ ⲛⲧⲁϯ ⲉⲣⲟϥ · ⲁⲡⲥⲏⲣ ⲉⲓ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ
ϩⲙ ⲡⲣⲟ ⲙⲡⲕⲁⲧⲁⲅⲓⲟⲛ ⲁϥϣⲧⲁⲙ ⲙⲡⲣⲟ · ⲁⲡⲥⲏⲣ ϫⲉ <ϯ>ⲧⲟⲟⲧϥ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲉϫⲙ ⲡⲣⲟ ⲙⲡⲕⲁⲧⲁⲅⲟⲛ · ⲁϥⲥⲱϩⲙ · ⲉϫⲙ ⲡⲥⲱⲙⲁ ⲙⲡⲙⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ · ⲁϥϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲛⲁϥ ⲙⲙⲁ ⲛⲥⲕⲉⲡⲁⲍⲉ ϣⲁ ⲡⲉϩⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡϩⲁⲡ ⲙⲙⲉ · ⲁⲡⲥⲏⲣ ⲃⲱⲕ ⲉϩⲣⲁⲓ ⲉⲧⲡⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲛϥⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ · ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ⲇⲉ ⲁⲓⲙⲟⲟϣⲉ · ⲁⲓⲉⲓ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϣⲁ ⲛⲉⲥⲛⲏⲩ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲡⲁⲙⲟⲩⲛ · ⲙⲛ ⲁⲡⲁ ϩⲓⲉⲣⲁⲝ · ⲁⲓϫⲱ ⲉⲣⲟⲟⲩ · ⲛⲛⲉⲛⲧⲁⲓⲛⲁⲩ ⲉⲣⲟⲟⲩ ⲁⲩϯⲉⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ · ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ⲇⲉ ⲁⲓϭⲱ ϩⲁϩⲧⲏⲩ
ⲛϩⲉⲛⲕⲟⲩⲓ ⲛϩⲟⲟⲩ ·

‘After these things, I was at a loss about what to do with the body of the blessed man, how to find burial wrapping, and where to place it. The Saviour came out through the door of the cell and shut the door. The Saviour then put his hand onto the door of the cell and made it (all) collapse onto the body of the blessed man. It became a place of cover for him until the day of the true judgement. The Saviour ascended to heaven with his angels, and I went away. I returned to the brethren Apa Pamoun and Apa Hierax and told them the things which I had seen. They glorified God, and I stayed with them for a few days.’

Apa Pambo then explains that he wanted also others to hear the story of this exceptional anchorite. And so he wrote the account to have it read out in church, thereby establishing cult.

Fol. 30a; Budge, p. 136, lines 17–20:

ⲙⲛⲛⲥⲁ ⲛⲁⲓ ⲁⲓⲃⲱⲕ ⲉⲡⲁⲙⲟⲛⲁⲥⲧⲏⲣⲓⲟⲛ ϩⲛ ϣⲓⲏⲧ ⲁⲓⲥϩⲁⲓ ⲙⲡⲃⲓⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲙⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲕⲩⲣⲟⲥ · ⲁⲓⲕⲁⲁϥ ϩⲛ ⲧⲕⲕⲗⲏⲥⲓⲁ ⲛϣⲓⲏⲧ · ⲉⲩϩⲏⲩ ⲙⲛ ⲟⲩⲥⲟⲗⲥⲗ ⲛⲛⲉⲧⲛⲁⲥⲱⲧⲙ ⲉⲣⲟϥ ·

‘After these things, I returned to my monastery in Sketis and I wrote the life of the blessed Apa Kyros. I placed it in the church at Sketis as a benefit and an encouragement for those who will hear it.’

Text: E. A. W. Budge. Translation and summary: G. Schenke.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kyros, Apa Kyros, Egyptian anchorite, brother of the emperor Theodosius : S01932 Pamoun and his monastic brother Sarmata : S00776 Hierax, Apa Hierax, Egyptian anchorite : S01934 Shenoute, abbot of the White Monastery near Akhmim/Panopolis (Upper E

Saint Name in Source

ⲁⲡⲁ ⲕⲩⲣⲟⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲡⲁⲙⲟⲩⲛ ⲁⲡⲁ ϩⲓⲉⲣⲁⲝ ⲁⲡⲁ ϣⲉⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ

Type of Evidence

Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment codex Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts Literary - Colophons, marginalia etc.


  • Coptic

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Edfu Sketis

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

Edfu Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis Sketis Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miracle at martyrdom and death Miracles experienced by the saint Apparition, vision, dream, revelation


The parchment codex Ms. Oriental no. 6783 is housed at the British Museum. The manuscript was produced by a man name Viktor, deacon of the church of *Merkurios, the General (S01323) at Latopolis/Esna (Upper Egypt) and completed on day 23 of Mesore (16 August) of the year 1003 AD. The expense of copying and producing the manuscript was paid by Zacharias, a deacon and monk at the monastery of Merkurios the General at Apollinopolis/Atbo/Edfu (Upper Egypt), where he donated the manuscript to the saint’s shrine, so that Merkurios as well as all the other saints appearing in this book would intercede on his behalf for the salvation of his soul. The codex includes the following texts: 1. Fol. 1a–22b: Life of Eustathios, the General, and his family (E05115) 2. Fol. 23a–30a: Life of Apa Kyros/Apakyros, the perfect monk 3. Fol. 30b–45b: Encomion on Demetrios, archbishop of Alexandria, attributed to Flavianus, bishop of Ephesos (E05117) 4. Fol. 45b–63a: The ascetic life of Apa Ephraim (E05118) 5. Fol. 63b–67b: An Epistle of Apa Ephraim to a beloved disciple (E05119) 6. Fol. 67b–83a: Life of John the Monk (E05120) 7. Fol. 83a–84a: Colophon and Prayer


The travel account written by Apa Pambo of Sketis entitled 'The Life of Apa Kyros' shows many similarities to the travel account of Apa Paphnoutios of Sketis entitled 'The Life of Apa Onnophrios'; see E00088–E00091.


Text and translation: Budge, E.A.W., Coptic Martyrdoms etc. in the Dialect of Upper Egypt (Coptic Texts 4; London: British Museum, 1914), 128–136 (text) and 381–389 (trans.).

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager