Meet the Saints

Some of Egypt's most important Coptic saints are immortalized in the wall paintings of St. Anthony's monastery.

St. Anthony (1998-12) by Michael JonesAmerican Research Center In Egypt (ARCE)

Saint Anthony

St. Antony the Great (251-356 CE), the namesake of the monastery, was the founder of the monastic tradition in Egypt. He was born in Middle Egypt and brought up in a Christian household.

At 20 years old, he experienced a religious awakening after hearing a life-changing sermon. He sold all his possessions and turned to a simple an ascetic life of prayer and fasting and eventually withdrew into the Egyptian mountains for absolute solitude.

Living as a hermit, Anthony was confronted by the devil and had to withstand a series of temptations. This spiritual combat with the forces of evil has been memorialized in Christian theology and iconography. 

Monastery of St. Anthony (1995-06-17) by Robert K. Vincent Jr.American Research Center In Egypt (ARCE)

After years of isolation, Saint Anthony emerged to preach the hermit lifestyle as a pathway to spiritual purity and freedom. His followers built monasteries in Egypt’s deserts, which are among the first in the world.

The church of Saint Anthony is filled with the images of important Coptic saints.

St. Menas and equestrian saints (1998-12) by Patrick GodeauAmerican Research Center In Egypt (ARCE)

Saint Menas

Menas ( c. 285-309 AD) is one of the most famous  Coptic Saints. He was born near modern day Cairo when Egypt was part of the Roman Empire. He joined the Roman army but, after hearing of the imperial persecution of Christians, he fled to the desert.   

After years of fasting and praying, he received a revelation and left the desert to confront the pagan governor in Alexandria. Upon declaring his faith, he was tortured and killed, becoming a martyr of Christianity.

The governor wanted to leave with Menas body, but after placing him upon the camel, it could not rise up. The governor tried every camel, but none was able to move, and he was forced to bury Menas at the site and the location was lost.  

 After a series of miracles, the saint’s remains were rediscovered, and a Coptic church was built on the site in the 6th century that became one of the most important and largest pilgrimage sites in Egypt.   

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Credits: Story

The project in the Monastery of St. Anthony at the Red Sea was sponsored by American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) Egyptian Antiquities Conservation Project with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. 

Created by Tessa Litecky and Elisabeth Koch, ARCE 
 Visit ARCE at

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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