Abu Mena

Abu Mena

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Abu Mena

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Abu Mena (also Abu Mina ) was a town, monastery complex and Christian pilgrimage center in Late Antique Egypt, about 45 km southwest of Alexandria. Its remains were designated a World Heritage Site in 1979. There are very few standing remains, but the foundations of most major buildings, such as the great basilica, are easily discernible.

Recent agricultural efforts in the area have led to a significant rise in the water table, which has caused a number of the site's buildings to collapse or become unstable. The site was added to the list of World Heritage in Danger in 2001. Authorities were forced to place sand in the bases of buildings that are most endangered in the site.


Menas of Alexandria was martyred in the late 3rd or early 4th century (see Early Christianity). Various 5th-century and later accounts give slightly differing versions of his burial and the subsequent founding of his church. The essential elements are that his body was taken from Alexandria on a camel, which was led into the desert beyond Lake Mareotis. At some point, the camel refused to continue walking, despite all efforts to goad it. This was taken as a sign of divine will, and the body's attendants buried it on that spot.

Most versions of the story state that the location of the tomb was then forgotten until its miraculous rediscovery by a local shepherd. From the Ethiopian Synaxarium (E.A.W. Budge, trans.):<blockquote>And God wished to reveal the body of Saint Mînâs. And...
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