University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E07047: Fragments from a Coptic Life of *Hilaria (S02726), from the White Monastery near Sohag (Upper Egypt), a runaway daughter of the emperor Zeno who became a monk with Apa *Pambo (monk in the Sketis (Wadi Natrun), S01933) at Sketis. Skeleton entry

online resource
posted on 2018-11-02, 00:00 authored by gschenke
We have not examined this text.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Hilaria, elder daughter of Zeno, who escapes from home and travels to Alexandria and Scetis disguised as a man to become a monk. : S02726 Pambo, Apa Pambo, monk in the Sketis (Wadi Natrun) : S01933

Saint Name in Source

ⲁⲡⲁ ⲡⲁⲙⲃⲱ

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives


  • Coptic

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Sohag Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Healing diseases and disabilities Exorcism


A parchment leaf at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, I.1.b.291 (4773, Copt. 20), together with three leaves kept at Paris (BN 132.1, 19–21) and a fifth leaf in Leiden (National Museum of Antiquities, Insinger 56) belong to the same codex once produced for the White Monastery near Sohag. The manuscript is datable to the 10th century.


According to the Arabic Synaxarion, Hilaria was the older daughter of the emperor Zeno (r. 474-4910 - she and her sister are both fictional, as Zeno did not have any daughters. She ran away from her home in Constantinople making her way to Alexandria disguised as a courier. From there she travelled to Abu Mina and the Scetis, hoping to become a monk. Apa Pambo of Scetis eventually admits her to his monastery and she lives there as a monk undisturbed, until her younger sister falls ill. Her mother, sick with grief writes a letter to the monk Apa Pambo, entreating him to heal her younger daughter tormented by a demon. The princess is sent to the monastery in Scetis, where none of the monks want to share a cell with her, except for Hilaria. Within a week, her sister is healed from the demon and sent back home. But the emperor gets suspicious and asks for Hilaria to be sent to Constantinople where she admits that she is his daughter, but is allowed to return to the monastery to resume her life as a monk. The emperor, however, from then on bestows large yearly donations onto the monastery of Apa Pambo in Scetis. Only after her death is her true identity revealed to the other monks.


Text and translation: Elanskaya, A.I., The Literary Coptic Manuscripts in the A. S. Pushkin State Fine Arts Museum in Moscow (Leiden, 1994), 150–155. Further reading: O'Leary, De L., Saints of Egypt (London: SPCK, 1937), 152–154.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager