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which was pitched there when he invaded Egypt, A.D. 640, and to which he returned after his capture of Alexandria. Around his tent lived a large number of his followers, and these being joined by new comers, the city of Al-Fusțâț at length arose. It was enlarged by Ahmed ibn Tulûn, who built the suburb Al-Katâʻi, and a mosque ; by Khamarûyeh, who built a palace there ; but when the Fâțimite Khalif Mu'izz conquered Egypt (A.D. 969), he removed the seat of his government from that place, and founded, on August 5th, Masr el-Kâhira, "Maşr the Victorious,' a few miles to the north. The work was carried out by Gawhar, the commander-in-chief of this Khalifa. Fusțâț, which was also known by the name of Mașr, was henceforth called Masr el-'Atika. During the reign of Salâh-ad-din the walls of the new city were thoroughly repaired and the Citadel was built. Sulțân after Sultân added handsome buildings to the town, and though it suffered from plagues and fires, it gained the reputation of being one of the most beautiful capitals in the Muhammadan empire. In 1517 it was captured by Selim I., and Egypt became a pashalik of the Turkish empire, and remained so until its conquest by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798. Cairo was occupied by Muhammad 'Ali in 1805, and the massacre of the Mamluks took place March 1, 1811 ; the city was surrendered to the British on September 14, 1882.
Coptic Churches in Cairo.* The Church of Mâr Minâ lies between Fustâț and Cairo; it was built in honour of St. Menas, an early martyr, who is said to have been born at Mareotis, and martyred during the persecution of Galerius Maximinus at
* The authorities for the facts relating to Coptic Churches are Butler's Coptic Churches of Egypt, 2 vols., 1884; and Curzon, Visits to Monasteries in the Levant.
Alexandria. The name Minâ, or Menâ, probably represents the Coptic form of Menå, 1, the name of the first historical king of Egypt. The church was probably founded during the fourth century, and it seems to have been restored in the eighth century; the first church built to Mâr Minâ was near Alexandria. The church measures 60 feet x 50 feet; it contains some interesting pictures, and a very ancient bronze candelabrum in the shape of two winged dragons, with seventeen sockets for lighted tapers. On the roof of the church is a small bell in a cupola.
About half-a-mile beyond the Dêr* containing the church of St. Menas, lies the Dêr of Abû's Sêfên, in which are situated the churches of al-Adhra (the Virgin), Anba Shenûti, and Abû's Sêfên. The last-named church was built in the tenth century, and is dedicated to St. Mercurius, who is called ' Father of two swords,' or Abû’s Sêfên. The church measures 90 feet x 50 feet, and is built chiefly of brick; there are no pillars in it. It contains a fine ebony partition dating from A.D. 927, some interesting pictures, an altar casket dating from A.D. 1280, and a marble pulpit. In this church are chapels dedicated to Saints Gabriel, John the Baptist, James, Mâr Buktor, Antony, Abbâ Nûb, Michael, and George. Within the Dêr of Abû's Sêfên is the 'Convent of the Maidens'; the account of Mr. Butler's discovery of this place is told by him in his Coptic Churches of Egypt, Vol. I., p. 128. The church of the Virgin was founded probably in the eighth century.
The church of Abû Sargah, or Abû Sergius, stands well towards the middle of the Roman fortress of Babylon in Egypt. Though nothing is known of the saint after whom it was named, it is certain that in A.D. 859 Shenûti was elected patriarch of Abû Sargah ; the church was most probably built much earlier, and some go so far as to state
* Arabic dd 'convent, monastery.'
that the crypt (20 feet x 15 feet) was occupied by the Virgin and her Son when they fled to Egypt to avoid the wrath of Herod. “The general shape of the church is, or was, a nearly regular oblong, and its general structure is basilican. It consists of narthex, nave, north and south aisle, choir, and three altars eastward each in its own chapel: of these the central and southern chapels are apsidal, the northern is square ended ...... Over the aisles and narthex runs a continuous gallery or triforium, which originally served as the place for women at the service. On the north side it stops short at the choir, forming a kind of transept, which, however, does not project beyond the north aisle ...... On the south side of the church the triforium is prolonged over the choir and over the south side-chapel. The gallery is flat-roofed while the nave is covered with a pointed roof with framed principals like that at Abû's Sêfên ...... Outside, the roof of Abû Sargah is plastered over with cement showing the king-posts projecting above the ridge-piece. Over the central part of the choir and over the haikal the roof changes to a wagon-vaulting ; it is flat over the north transept, and a lofty dome overshadows the north aisle chapel ... ... The twelve monolithic columns round the nave are all, with one exception, of white marble streaked with dusky lines ...... The exceptional column is of red Assuân granite, 22 inches in diameter ...... The wooden pulpit ...... is of rosewood inlaid with designs in ebony set with ivory edgings ...... The haikal-screen projects forward into the choir as at Al 'Adra ...... and is of very ancient and beautiful workmanship; pentagons and other shapes of solid ivory, carved in relief with arabesques, being inlaid and set round with rich mouldings ...... The upper part of the screen contains square panels of ebony set with large crosses of solid ivory, most exquisitely chiselled with scrollwork, and
panels of ebony carved through in work of the most delicate and skilful finish.” (Butler, Coptic Churches, Vol. I., pp. 183190, ff.) The early carvings representing St. Demetrius, Már George, Abû's Sêfên, the Nativity, and the Last Supper, are worthy of careful examination.
The Jewish synagogue which stood near Abû Sargah was originally a Coptic church dedicated to St. Michael, and was sold to the Jews by a patriarch called Michael towards the end of the ninth century; it measured 65 feet x 35 feet, and was said to contain a copy of the Law written by Ezra. The building fell down in 1888.
A little to the south-east of Abû Sargah is the church dedicated to the Virgin, more commonly called AlMu'allakah, or the 'hanging,' from the fact that it is suspended between two bastions, and must be entered by a staircase. The church is triapsal, and is of the basilican order. It originally contained some very beautiful screens, which have been removed from their original positions and made into a sort of wall, and, unfortunately, modern stained glass has been made to replace the old. The cedar doors, sculptured in panels, are now in the British Museum. The cedar and ivory screens are thought to belong to the eleventh century. The church is remarkable in having no choir, and Mr. Butler says it is “a double-aisled church, and as such is remarkable in having no transepts.” The pulpit is one of the most valuable things left in the church, and probably dates from the twelfth century; in the wooden coffer near it are the bones of four saints. Authorities differ as to the date to be assigned to the founding of this church, but all the available evidence now known would seem to point to the sixth century as the most probable period; at any rate, it must have been before the betrayal of the fortress of Babylon to 'Amr by the Monophysite Copts in the seventh century.
A little to the north-east of Abû Sargah is the church of
St. Barbara, the daughter of a man of position in the East, who was martyred during the persecution of Maximinus ; it was built probably during the eighth century. In the church is a picture of the saint, and a chapel in honour of St. George. At the west end of the triforium are some mural paintings of great interest.
Within the walls of the fortress of Babylon, lying due north of Abû Sargah, are the two churches of Mâr Girgis and the Virgin.
To the south of the fortress of Babylon, beyond the Muḥammadan village on the rising ground, lie the Dêr of Bablûn and the Dêr of Tadrus. In the Dêr al-Bablûn is a church to the Virgin, which is very difficult to see. It contains some fine mural paintings, and an unusual candlestick and lectern ; in it also are chapels dedicated to Saints Michael and George. This little building is about fifty-three feet square. Dêr al-Tadrus contains two churches dedicated to Saints Cyrus and John of Damanhûr in the Delta ; there are some fine specimens of vestments to be seen there.
A short distance from the Mûski is a Dêr containing the churches of the Virgin, St. George, and the chapel of Abù's Sêfên. The church of the Virgin occupies the lower half of the building, and is the oldest in Cairo. The chapel of Abu's Sêfên is reached through a door in the north-west corner of the building, and contains a wooden pulpit inlaid with ivory. The church of St. George occupies the upper part of the building, and is over the church of the Virgin.
In the Greek (Byzantine) quarter of Cairo is the Dêr al-Tadrus, which contains the churches of St. George and the Virgin.
The Coptic churches of Cairo contain a great deal that is interesting, and are well worth many visits. Though the fabrics of many of them are not older than the sixth, seventh, or eighth century of our era, it may well be assumed that the sites were occupied by Coptic churches long before this period.