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E03561: Coptic Martyrdom of Apa *Nile (S00405) and his brothers, one of them named as Apa *Sakine (S01465), produced for the Monastery of Apa Shenoute (Upper Egypt), relating various miraculous events occurring during their trial, presumably taking place at Alexandria, when the archangel *Michael (S00181) repeatedly saves the saints from tortures, thereby exposing the power of God; written most likely in the 6th/7th century.

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posted on 13.08.2017, 00:00 by gschenke
The fragments preserve some of the miracles taking place during the martyrdom of Apa Nile and his brothers. The saints are tried by the governor (hegemon) Culcianus, which might point to the trial taking place in Alexandria.

The text preserved, of what seems to have been once a long and ‘epic’ martyrdom, starts with a prayer by Apa Nile expressing his wish to make the throne of the hegemon turn back into living fruit trees.

Till, KHML I, p. 182, lines 11–18:

ⲉⲕⲉⲧⲣⲉⲡⲉⲛⲟϭ ⲛϣⲉ ⲉⲧϩⲙ ⲡⲓⲑⲣⲟⲛⲟⲥ ϯⲟⲩⲱ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛⲥⲉⲉⲣⲉ ⲛϩⲉⲛϣⲏⲛ ⲉⲩⲣⲟⲟⲩⲧ · ⲧⲁⲣⲉ ⲛⲉⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲛⲧⲉⲡⲟⲗⲓⲥ ⲉⲙⲉ ϫⲉ ⲛⲧⲟⲕ ⲡⲉ
ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ · ⲙⲛ ⲡⲉⲕⲱⲧ ⲛⲁⲅⲁⲑⲟⲥ · ⲙⲛ ⲡⲉⲡⲛⲁ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ :
ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ ⲇⲉ ⲁⲛⲉⲑⲣⲟⲛⲟⲥ ⲙⲡϩⲏⲅⲉⲙⲱⲛ ϯⲟⲩⲱ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲁϥⲉⲣ ϣⲟⲙⲛⲧ ⲛϣⲏⲛ ⲉⲩⲥⲟⲡⲧ · ⲉⲩⲁⲡⲧ ⲛⲕⲁⲣⲡⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲙⲧⲟ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲙⲡⲙⲏⲏϣⲉ
ⲧⲏⲣϥ :

‘May you cause this great (piece of) wood which constitutes this throne sprout out and they turn into fresh trees, so that the people of this city understand that you are God, together with your Father and the Holy Spirit.
At once the thrones of the hegemon did sprout out. They turned into three delightful trees full of fruit in the presence of the whole crowd.’

The governor claims that this miracle was performed by his imperial gods. As a punishment, the saint has the governor’s tongue tied up. Only a prayer to the Christian God would restore his ability to speak.

Till, KHML I, p. 183, lines 13–17:

ⲁⲛⲉⲙⲁⲧⲟ ϫⲱ[ⲣ]ⲙ ⲉⲡϩⲏⲅⲉⲙⲟⲛ ⲁϥⲕⲱⲧⲉ ⲙⲡⲉϥϩⲟ ⲉⲡⲥⲁ ⲛⲧⲁⲛⲁⲧⲟⲗⲏ · ⲁϥⲟⲩⲱϣⲧ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲙⲡϩⲁⲅⲟⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲛⲗⲉ ⲛϣⲟⲙⲛⲧ ⲛⲥⲟⲡ ⲉϥϫⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ · ϫⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛⲥⲁ ⲛⲧⲟⲕ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛⲛⲉⲭⲣⲏⲥⲧⲁⲛⲟⲥ ⲡⲉⲭⲥ ⲓⲥ : ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ ⲁⲡⲗⲁⲥ ⲙⲡϩⲏⲅⲉⲙⲟⲛ ⲥⲟⲟⲩⲧⲛ ⲁϥϣⲁϫⲉ ·

‘The soldiers urged the hegemon. He turned his face to the East and worshipped the God of saint Apa Nile three times, saying: “There is no god except for you, God of the Christians, Jesus Christ.” At once, the tongue of the hegemon straightened up and he spoke.’


Once the governor’s speech is restored, he demands that the saints sacrifice to his imperial gods, claiming that it was their power that healed him. One of the brothers, saint Apa Sakine, then curses the governor and his gods. As a result, the saints are thrown into a pot filled with sulphur and tar, from which the archangel Michael saves them unharmed.

Apa Nile is then singled out and bound onto a wheel. He prays and the archangel Michael assures him of his continuous help and a worthy reward. The soldiers were unable to crush him and thus threw away their amour and rank and became Christians themselves.

Till, KHML I, p. 184, lines 12–28:

ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ ⲁϥⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲛ ⲧⲡⲉ ⲛϭⲓ ⲙⲭⲁⲏⲗ ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ · ⲁϥⲟⲩⲁⲛⲁϩϥ ⲉⲡⲙⲁⲕⲁⲣⲟⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲛⲓⲗⲉ · ϫⲉ ⲙⲡⲉⲣⲉⲣϩⲟⲧⲉ ⲡⲁⲙⲉⲣⲓⲧ ⲁⲡⲁ
ⲛⲗⲉ · ⲉⲥ ⲛⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲁⲩⲥⲉⲃⲧⲱⲧⲟⲩ ⲉⲉⲓ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲁϫⲱⲕ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲕⲥⲛⲏⲩ ϣⲁⲛⲧⲟⲩϫⲓ ⲧⲏⲩⲧⲛ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲧⲡⲟⲗⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ·
ⲛⲧⲉⲧⲛϩⲙⲟⲟⲥ ϩϫⲛ ⲛⲉⲧⲛⲑⲣⲟⲛⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲙⲧⲟ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲙⲡⲉⲛϫⲟⲉⲥ ⲓⲥ ⲡⲉⲭⲥ ⲉⲙⲡⲉⲣⲣϩⲟⲧⲉ ϯϣⲟⲟⲡ ⲛⲙⲙⲏⲧⲉⲛ ⲛⲟⲩⲁⲉϣ ⲛⲙ · ϫⲉ
ⲛⲛⲉⲗⲁⲁⲩ ⲙⲡⲉⲑⲟⲟⲩ ϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲙⲙⲱⲧⲛ ⲉⲡⲧⲏⲣϥ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲙⲡⲉ ⲛⲉⲙⲁⲧⲟ ⲉϣ ϭⲙϭⲟⲙ ⲉϩⲱⲕ ⲉϫⲱϥ : ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ ⲇⲉ ⲁⲛⲉⲙⲁⲧⲟⲓ ⲛⲟⲩϫ
ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛⲛⲉⲩϩⲱⲕ ⲉⲧⲧⲁϩⲱⲟⲩ · ⲁⲩⲱϣ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϫⲉ ⲁⲛⲁⲛ ϩⲛⲭⲣⲏⲥⲧⲁⲛⲟⲥ ⲡⲁⲣⲣⲏⲥⲁ : ⲁⲩⲱ ⲁⲡⲙⲏⲏϣⲉ ⲧⲏⲣϥ ⲱϣ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲉⲩⲥⲙⲟⲩ
ⲉⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲉⲧⲃⲉ ⲛⲉϭⲟⲙ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲛⲧⲁⲩⲛⲁⲩ ⲉⲣⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲣⲉ ⲛⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲉⲣⲉ ⲙⲙⲁⲩ ⲁⲡⲁⲡⲁ ⲛⲗⲉ ⲙⲉ ⲛⲉϥⲥⲛⲏⲩ :

‘At once, the archangel Michael came down from the heaven. He appeared to the blessed Apa Nile: “Do not be afraid, my beloved Apa Nile. Behold, all the saints have prepared themselves to come out on behalf of you and your brothers, until they take you into the holy city and until you sit down on your thrones in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. Do not be afraid. I am with you at any time, so that no evil will happen to you at all.”
The soldiers were unable to crush him. At once, the soldiers threw off their breastplates they were wearing. They cried out: “We are Christians, professing freely.” The entire crowd cried out praising God because of all the miracles which they had seen performed by the saints, Apa Nile and his brothers.’

(Text: W. C. Till, KHML I, 181–187; summary and trans. G. Schenke)


Four more pages of the same manuscript are kept at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, containing an earlier portion of the martyrdom, pages 19/20, with the saint tricking the governor into believing he is about to sacrifice to Apollo and Artemis, as well as the end of the manuscript with a colophon, pages 37/38.

I.1.b.295.1 and 295.2 (5680, Copt. 16):

The martyrdom ends with Julius of Aqfahs (Kbahs), the keeper of records and author of martyrdoms, being informed that he himself will only live for another eight years, before he will be joyfully received by all the saints together with Apa Nile and his brothers.

Page 37:

ⲥⲉϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲛⲙⲙⲁⲕ · ⲕⲉϣⲙⲟⲩⲛⲉ ⲛⲣⲟⲙⲡⲉ ⲛⲉⲧⲁⲕϩⲓϫⲙ ⲡⲕⲁϩ · ϣⲁⲛⲧⲉⲕⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲛ ⲥⲱⲙⲁ ⲛⲧⲉ ⲛⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲉ
ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲁϫ̣ⲱⲕ · ⲙⲛ ⲡⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲛⲗⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉϥⲥⲛⲏⲩ :–
ⲁⲙⲟⲟϣⲉ ϩⲁϫⲱⲟⲩ · ⲁⲟⲩⲱϣⲃ ϫⲉ ϩⲁⲙⲏⲛ :–
ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ⲇⲉ ⲟ[ⲩⲗ]ⲟⲥ ⲁⲡⲱⲧ ⲉ̣[ⲡⲁ]ⲏ ⲉⲧⲉ ⲕⲃⲁϩⲥ ⲡⲉ · ⲉⲥⲙⲟⲩ ⲉⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲡⲱⲧ · ⲙⲛ ⲡⲉϥⲙⲟⲛⲟⲅⲉⲛⲏⲥ ⲛϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲓⲥ ⲡⲉⲭⲥ
ⲡⲉⲛϫⲟⲉⲥ · ⲙⲛ ⲡⲉⲡⲛⲁ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ :– ⲡⲁ ⲉⲧⲉ ⲡⲱϥ ⲡⲉ ⲡⲉⲟⲟⲩ ⲙ̣[ⲛ] ⲡⲧⲁⲟ · [ⲙⲛ ⲧⲉⲓ]ⲣⲏⲛⲏ · ϣⲁ [ⲉ]ⲛⲉϩ ⲛⲉⲛⲉϩ ·
ϩ[ⲁ]ⲙⲏⲛ :–

‘… it shall happen to you: Another eight years which you will be on earth, until you come forth from the body, and until all the saints come forth towards you, together with saint Apa Nile and his brothers.
I went towards them and answered “Amen.”
And I, Julius, I rushed home which is Kbahs, praising God, the Father and his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, and the Holy Spirit. His is the glory and honour and peace eternally. Amen.’

Page 38, col. 1, lines 1–29:

[ⲁⲣⲓ ⲧ]ⲁⲅⲁⲡⲏ ⲛⲁⲉⲟ[ⲧ]ⲉ̣ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲛⲕⲗ̣ⲏⲣⲕⲟⲥ · ⲟⲩⲁⲛ ⲛⲙ ⲉⲧⲛⲁⲱϣ ϩⲙ ⲡϫⲱⲱⲙⲉ ϣⲗⲏⲗ ⲉϫⲙ ⲡⲉⲙⲁⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛⲥⲟⲛ
ⲙⲙⲁⲁⲅⲁⲡⲏ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲙⲙⲁⲡⲣⲟⲥⲫⲟⲣⲁ̣ ⲥⲧⲉⲫⲉⲛ ⲡⲩ(ⲓ)ⲟ(ⲥ) ϣⲉⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ · ϫ⟨ⲉ⟩ ⲛⲧⲁϥ ⲁϥⲃ ⲡⲉϥⲣⲟ[ⲟⲩ]ϣ̣ ⲁ̣ϥ̣ⲥ̣ϩⲁϥ ϩⲛ [ⲧⲉϥϭⲓ]ϫ̣
ⲙⲙⲓⲛ ⲙ[ⲙⲟϥ] · ⲁϥⲧⲟⲟϥ ⲉ[ϩ]ⲟ̣ⲩ̣ⲛ ⲉⲧⲉⲕⲕⲗⲏ[ⲥ]̣ⲁ ⲙⲡⲉⲡⲣⲟⲫⲏⲧⲏⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ ϣⲉⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ϩⲁ ⲡⲟⲩϫⲁ ⲛⲧⲉϥⲯⲩⲭⲏ ϫⲉⲕⲁⲥ ⲉⲣⲉ
ⲡϩⲁⲅⲟⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ{ⲡⲁ} ⲛⲗⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉϥⲥⲛⲏⲩ ⲡⲁⲣⲁⲕⲁⲗ ⲙⲡⲣⲣⲟ ⲡⲉⲭⲥ · ⲛϥⲥⲙⲟⲩ ⲉⲣⲟϥ ⲙⲛ ⲧⲉϥϩⲙⲉ · ⲙⲛ [ⲛ]ⲉϥϣⲏⲣⲉ · ⲙⲛ
ⲛⲉϥ[ⲉ]ⲟⲧⲉ · ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉϥⲥⲛⲏⲩ [ⲙ]ⲛ ⲡⲉϥⲏ ⲧⲏⲣϥ ·

‘Be so kind, my holy fathers, the clerics, anyone who will read from this book, pray for the pious, generous and charitable brother, Stephen, the son of Shenoute’, since he took care and wrote it with [his] own [hand]. He donated it to the church of the Prophet Apa Shenoute for the salvation of his soul, so that saint Apa Nile and his brothers entreat Christ, the King, and he (Christ) blesses him (the scribe) and his wife and his children, and his parents, and siblings and his entire household.

(Text and trans. A. I. Elanskaya, modified)

History

Evidence ID

E03561

Saint Name

Neilos, ascetic in Sinai, ob. c. 430 : S00405 Michael, the Archangel : S00181 Sakine, Apa Sakine, one of the brothers martyred together with Apa Nile : S01465

Saint Name in Source

ⲁⲡⲁ ⲛⲓⲗⲉ ⲙⲭⲁⲏⲗ ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲥⲁⲕⲛⲉ

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment codex

Language

Coptic

Evidence not before

500

Evidence not after

962

Activity not before

400

Activity not after

900

Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Panopolis

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

Panopolis Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miracle at martyrdom and death Miraculous power through intermediary Punishing miracle Miracles causing conversion Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather) Power over life and death Miraculous protection - other

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Officials Soldiers Crowds Angels

Source

Six pages of a former parchment codex belonging to the papyrus collection in Vienna preserve parts of the martyrdom of Apa Nile and his brothers. K 9621, pages 29/30; K 9544, pages31/32; K 9545, pages 33/34. The leaves in the Pushkin museum, I.1.b.295.1 and 295.2 (5680, Copt. 16), pages 19/20 and pages 37/38, include the colophon giving the date of production of the manuscript as AD 961/962 (year 678 of Diocletian) and the name of the scribe, Stephen, son of Shenoute, who produced this manuscript and donated it to the church of the monastery of Apa Shenoute, the Prophet (Upper Egypt), hoping with this donation to secure the salvation of his soul and that of his wife, children, his parents and siblings, and his entire household.

Bibliography

Text and German translation: Till, W.C., Koptische Heiligen- und Martyrlegenden. Vol. 1 (Rome: Pont. institutum orientalium studiorum, 1935), 181–187. Text and translation: Elanskaya, A. I., The Literary Coptic Manuscripts in the A. S. Pushkin State Fine Arts Museum in Moscow (Leiden, 1994), 99–107.

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