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Men(n)as

(d. c. 300)


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(d. c.300),

martyr. This very famous saint was Egyptian by birth; he was killed in Egypt for his Christian faith, perhaps under Diocletian; he was reputed to be a soldier in the Roman army, but this detail, like others of his Legend, may have been borrowed from that of St Gordius. His shrine at Bumma (near Alexandria) was a principal pilgrimage centre until the Arab invasions of the 7th century; from it came phials of well-water which bore his name. The whole complex of church, monastery, baths, and other buildings was excavated at the beginning of the 20th century. After the battle of El Alamein in 1943 the patriarch of Alexandria attributed the saving of Egypt to the intercession of Mennas and initiated a project for restoring his shrine near Alamein. His popularity in the East is seen from the numerous versions of his Acts. He was patron of merchants and caravans of the desert; his emblem has been a pair of camels at least since the 6th century, probably because of his patronage also of pilgrims to his shrine. In the West his feast was kept at Rome and elsewhere, including York and Hereford, on 11 November.

‘Acta S. Menae’, Anal. Boll., iii (1884), 258–70;H. Delehaye, ‘L'invention des reliques de S. Menas à Constantinople’, Anal. Boll., xxix (1910), 117–50; P. Devos, ‘Un récit des miracles de S. Menas en copte et en éthiopien’, Anal. Boll., lxxvii (1959), 154–60 and lxxviii (1960), 275–308;C. M. Kaufmann, Die Menasstadt und das Nationalheiligtum der altchristlichen Aegypter (1910);id., Ikonographie der Menas-Ampullen: M. A. Murray, ‘St Menas of Alexandria’, Proc. of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, xxix (1907), 25–30, 51–60, and 112–22;R. Miedema, Der heilige Menas (1913).

Subjects: Christianity.


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