Πέμπτη, 20 Ιουλίου 2017

Nitria: one of the earliest orthodox christian monastic sites in ancient Egypt


Nitria is one of the earliest Christian monastic sites in Egypt.[1] It was the earliest of the three major centers of Christian monastic activity in the Nitrian Desert, the other two were Kellia and Scetis.[1]

Nitria was founded in AD 330 by Ammon and quickly attracted thousands of monks through the remainder of the 4th century.[1] By 390, it evolved from a loose collection of solitary monks to an organized community with bankers, merchants and church services.[1] Tourists from the nearby city of Alexandria came as well, even in large numbers, and many of the monks focused on servicing the tourists needs.[1] Other monks sought more remote areas, away from the tourists and merchants, and established a monastic center in Kellia twelve miles distant, in 338. The monastic population in Nitria declined during the fifth and sixth centuries and the site was abandoned sometime in the middle of the seventh century.[1]

Little remains today at its location near or under the modern village of Al Barnuji.[1] Nitria should not be confused with the monasteries at Wadi El Natrun (formally known as Scetis), which are still in existence. Nitria was named for a nearby town which took its name from the deposits of nearby natron, a salt used by the Ancient Egyptians in the embalming of mummies.[1]

Nitria and Kellia, maps and information.

[1]  Roger S. Bagnall, etc. Egypt from Alexander to the early Christians: An Archaeological and Historical Guide, Getty Publications, 2004. pg. 108-112
 
See also

The holy anarchists... in the Egyptian Desert
Ancient Christian faith (Orthodox Church) in Africa
Dream Team of the Desert (tag)
Orthodox Monasticism
Monasticism (tag)
Saint Pambo of the Nitrian desert, whose face shone like lightning (July 18)

Three Africans ancients saints: Anthony the Great (the Professor of Desert), Athanasius the Great & Cyril of Alexandria
St Pachomius the Great of Egypt, the founder of the cenobitic monastic life

   
 
Neophytos Kongai, Bishop of Nitria (here), now Bishop of Nyeri-Eastern Kenya

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