The Ancient Coptic Churches of Egypt, Volume 1

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Clarendon Press, 1884 - Christian antiquities - 379 pages
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Page 351 - The altar in such a chapel as this was probably of gold, set full of gems ; or if it was the baptistery, as I suppose, it most likely contained a bath, of the most precious jasper, or of some of the more rare kinds of marble, for the immersion of the converted heathen, whose entrance into the church was not permitted until they had been purified with the waters of baptism in a building without the door of the house of God...
Page x - The history of Christian Egypt is still unwritten, or at least that part of it about which the most romantic interest gathers, the period which witnessed the passing away of the ancient cults, and the change of the pagan world. We have yet to learn how the cold worship, the tranquil life, and the mummified customs of that immemorial people dissolved in the fervour of the new faith ; how faces like those sculptured on the monuments of the Pharaohs became the faces of anchorites, saints, and martyrs.
Page 294 - a veritable fortress, standing about one hundred and fifty yards square, with blind, lofty walls rising sheer out of the sand. . . . Each monastery has also, either detached or not, a large keep, or tower, standing four-square, and approached only by a drawbridge. The tower contains the library, storerooms for the vestments and sacred vessels, cellars for oil and corn, and many strange holes and hiding-places for the monks in the last resort, if their citadel should be taken by the enemy. Within...
Page 351 - ... like granite. The principal entrance was formerly at the west end, where there is a small vestibule, immediately within the door of which, on the left hand, is a small chapel, perhaps the baptistery, about twenty-five feet long, and still in tolerable preservation. It is a splendid specimen of the richest Roman architecture of the latter empire, and is truly an imperial little room. The arched ceiling is of stone ; and there are three beautifully ornamented niches on each side. The upper end...
Page 84 - The choir-screen is worth a journey to Egypt to see. It is a massive partition of ebony, divided into three large panels — doorway and two side panels — which are framed in masonry. At each side of the doorway is a square pillar, plastered and painted ; on the left is portrayed the Crucifixion, and over it the sun shining full ; on the right, the Taking down from the Cross, and over it the sun eclipsed. Each of the three panels is about six feet wide and eight high. In the centre a double door,...
Page 285 - Alexandria is buried, still has its convent, and 'the life, in its outer guise at least, is scarcely altered since the dawn of monasticism'.
Page viii - Copts were among the first to welcome the tidings of the Gospel, to make a rule of life and worship and to erect religious buildings: they have upheld the cross unwaveringly through ages of desperate persecution: and their ritual now is less changed than that of any other community in Christendom. All this surely is reason enough to recommend the subject to churchman, historian or antiquarian.
Page vii - Egyptians who built the pyramids, and the ancient tongue is spoken at every Coptic mass. The Copts were among the first to welcome the tidings of the Gospel, to make a rule of life and worship, and to erect religious buildings ; they have upheld the Cross unwaveringly through ages of desperate persecution ; and their ritual now is less changed than that of any other community in Christendom. All this surely is reason enough to recommend the subject to churchman, historian, or antiquarian.
Page 340 - Pagan temples and buildings had been turned to monastic uses : the hermitages outnumbered the dwelling-houses ; in fact, the land " so swarmed with monks that their chaunts and hymns by day and by night made the whole country one church of God." ' With due allowance for exaggeration, there is no doubt that the upper valley of the Nile was then very thickly sprinkled with monasteries and other religious institutions. Those that remain are not few, and as Mr, Butler's Researches.
Page 85 - Each of the side-panels of the screen is one mass of superbly cut crosses of ivory, inlaid in even lines, so as to form a kind of broken trellis-work in the ebony background. The spaces between the crosses are filled with little squares, pentagons, hexagons, and other figures of ivory, variously designed, and chiselled with exquisite skill. This order is only broken in the centre of the panel, where a small sliding window, fourteen inches square, is fitted ; on the slide a single large cross is inlaid,...

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