Stories of 4 modern-day Coptic ascetics

Fr Luke the Syrian (-2008) and Metropolitan Mina of Girga (-2003)

On a cold Sunday morning in the winter of 1965, Metropolitan Mina of Gerga celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the church of Archangel Michael. The time came to choose the oblation bread to become the Sacrifice, of which there were three loaves in the plate, per the rite. At one moment, the priests noticed that one of the loaves suddenly disappeared before their eyes, so they were startled.

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Bishop Mina of Girga

Metropolitan Mina simply chuckled, and called for another loaf to be brought, and the Lamb was chosen. After the Liturgy, the priests inquired as to what occurred that morning. The Metropolitan explained, “I saw a hand extend into the plate and take one of loaves of the oblation bread. This was Father Luke the Syrian, who needed the loaf to pray his own Liturgy with the Anchorites.”

Father Luke the Syrian was a monastic who, through his struggle, reached the rank of the Anchorites. He was incredibly ascetic, fasting every two days, and giving his little food to the destitute and the children. At one point, he asked his abbot to visit Metropolitan Mina (who was his relative). Due to his God-given talents of exorcism and wonder-working, the people of Girga sought him extensively, so he escaped the region into the desert, and was never seen since.

Contemporary saintly fathers revealed that he lived in a cave with two other anchorites, and that God wrought a well of water to spring in the area for their sustenance. The Lord had given him the ability to be unseen by the common man, which allowed him to partake of the Holy Eucharist at the hands of Metropolitan Mina on multiple occasions without being seen by anyone else. He was said to have concluded his struggle on earth in the year 2008.


Fr Paul the Samuelite (-2011)

The monk who needed his hands tied for burial: Father Paul the Samuelite

In the days prior to January 10th, 2011, Father Paul prayed the midnight praises, and officiated the Divine Liturgy at dawn. He then did his routine of ascending to the mountain to recite his psalms and pray his spiritual rule. A fellow monk witnessed Father Paul enter his hermitage and throw his blankets outside the door (Father Paul would do this out of asceticism, to reject comfort in the winter). Days passed, and the blankets still laid beside the door of the cell, and the door remained shut.

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Fr Paul the Samuelite

After knocking several times, without an answer, the monk neighboring Father Paul brought a copy of the key and entered the cell, only to find the Father standing up in prayer before his icons, his hands raised on high, and his psalter lying on the floor. A sweet scent filled the room—the father had peacefully reposed while praying, and maintained his position after his departure. To fit him in the simple coffin, his hands had to be tied together and weighed down with heavy books.

A monk explained that he was grieved greatly by the repose of Father Paul, who appeared to him and related, “I felt no pain in my departure; at one moment I was praying in my cell, and the next moment, I found myself praying with the angels before the Pantocrator.”


Father Armanios St Mary (-1995)

Father, did you dream a dream about me?” Father Armanios, a contemporary saint and righteous desert father, was often approached by the monks of his monastery for advice. One day, one of his spiritual children, teasing him as a son with his father, asked, “Father, did you dream a dream about me?”

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Fr Armanios St Mary

He replied, “I dreamt that you were eating white sunflower seeds, and you were dressed in white. They will ordain you a priest.” The young monk laughed and dismissed the idea; it is extremely unlikely, let alone difficult, for such an event to occur, especially due to the monk’s young age. Within an hour of the conversation, the assembly of monks was surprised by an unannounced visit from His Holiness Pope Shenouda III to the monastery.

Upon entrance into the monastery, he asked the abbot to nominate several monks to grant the blessing and grace of the priesthood. A group of monks were chosen, among them was this young monk, and they received the grace of the priesthood by the hands of Pope Shenouda that day.

After this event, another monk approached Father Armanios, asking “Father, did you dream a dream about me?” The elder replied, “I dreamt you were eating black sunflower seeds and you were dressed in black. You will leave the monastery today.” Within hours, a decree was issued, calling for this specific monk to be assigned to service outside the monastery.