From Our Heritage

The Copts have a long history in accumulating and preserving their knowledge. They invented the letters of the Coptic language, combining the Greek and ancient Egyptian languages They translated the Bible from Greek to Coptic. In the third century, the extensive and prestigious Patriarchal Library of St. Mark was used by students from the School of Alexandria and was the model used for the Library of Jerusalem at the time of Origen.

The monasteries of St. Pachomios had large libraries of manuscripts. The monks were encouraged to read these. Every monk's cell had a place to keep the books borrowed from the library so they could not to be forgotten or lost.

The White Monastery of St. Shenouda has a room, north of the altar, that was used as library. We still can read some of the titles and the number of copies of the scripts. Nowadays, it is estimated that there are still 1870 page of the works of St. Shenouda in European libraries, although it was estimated that the writings of St. Shenouda reached over 25 thousand pages.

We have a piece of ostracom from the 7th century which has the archives of St. Elias Monastery near Luxor, describing the book titles, the writing materials used, biographies of saints, canons, homilies and also medical books. Homilies were also found in the library of the 9th century Monastery of the Archangel Michael in El Fayoum, now kept in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York. However, most of the libraries of Wadi Al Natroun Monasteries were lost due to the barbarian attacks in the years 408, 434, 444, and 817 AD. What survived was bought very cheaply and is now preserved in the Vatican Library, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and the John Rylands Library in Manchester and Cambridge. Also, there is a significant collection in Leipzig, Germany. Most of the manuscripts from Al Syrian Monastery are now in the London Museum.

Evelyn White managed to preserve a large number of manuscripts in the Coptic museum.

The libraries of St Mary, St Anthony and St Makarios Monasteries have been preserved. These libraries are a valuable sources of research.

Time took its toll on the old Patriarchal Library.
The above valuable manuscript was photographed from inside the pages of these salvaged books shown below.
The Coptic Church and her faithful children and organizations are responsible for the preservation of our heritage.