Through adherence to precise rituals associated with making and baking, whether the preparation and baking is found in Egypt or elsewhere, this holy bread transcends local environmental and cultural characteristics that are generally associated with specific breads and their production.
Making qurbaan [Coptic holy bread] – طريقة عمل القربان
The following two videos are on the production of qurbaan. It is interesting that the process not only is highly ritualized, but also that it is conducted by men. The first video has quite a good description and depiction of how the bread is made – spoken in colloquial Egyptian by a priest, with english subs.
A film of The Red Sea Monasteries of Egypt made during the expedition of Thomas Whittemore to these monasteries:
The first official project undertaken by the Byzantine Institute [Dumbarton Oaks] was the examination and documentation of wall paintings in the Red Sea Monasteries in Egypt, which occurred between 1929 and 1932. Filmed in 1930, the below film was likely recorded during the First Expedition (1929-1930) to the Red Sea Monasteries and it includes scenes from both monasteries of Saint Paul and Saint Anthony.
Source: Dumbarton Oaks
Two expeditions were organized and led by Thomas Whittemore into the Eastern Desert of Egypt to study the two monasteries discussed in this blog. I would like to do a later piece on this intriguing figure and his work.
Thomas Whittemore is perhaps best remembered for founding the Byzantine Institute [at Dumbarton Oaks], an organization that specialized in the study, restoration, and conservation of Byzantine art and architecture, in 1930. Overseeing the Institute’s fieldwork projects and publication efforts until his sudden death in 1950, Whittemore made a name for himself among Byzantinists and art historians alike when he initiated an unprecedented restoration and conservation project at Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, in December of 1931.
How an English professor and amateur archaeologist from the United States convinced the Turkish government to permit an international team of fieldworkers to restore and conserve the building’s priceless mosaics—to convert what was at the time a mosque into a worksite and subsequently a museum—remains something of a mystery.
So, how did Whittemore make his way to Turkey? How did he, moreover, manage to create and sustain a complex organization like the Byzantine Institute in the midst of the Great Depression, a time in which introversion was the way of the West? Why, for that matter, did he turn his eyes toward Byzantium?
Source – Dumbarton Oaks
- Film starts with general exterior views of the monastery of Saint Paul
- Men preparing food and performing day-to-day activities
- Thomas Whittemore [head of the expedition] and unidentified individuals on camels
- General exterior views of the monastery and surrounding landscape
- Men digging a waterway
- Film ends with general views of the surrounding landscape
The Cave Church of St. Paul marks the spot where St. Anthony, “the Father of Monasticism,” and St. Paul, “the First Hermit,” are believed to have met. It is a sacred place representing the very beginning of Christian monasticism.
In 1997, work began at St. Paul’s Monastery to conserve the mill building, refectory and eighteenth-century enclosure wall. This site, visited by Coptic pilgrims as well as tourists interested in the historic attributes of the place, contains vestiges of its past life as a self-sufficient community.
The mill building has special significance as the source of the flour for the bread that is such an important part of the monks’ daily life.
ARCE announces the publication of a new book, “The Cave Church of Paul the Hermit at the Monastery of St. Paul in Egypt,” which is available now through Amazon.com. The volume is co-published by the American Research Center in Egypt and Yale University Press.
The collection of essays written by renowned specialists and edited by William Lyster presents different aspects of the Coptic Monastery of St. Paul on the Red Sea coast of Egypt and of its main church. The church evolved from a rock-cut hermit’s cave as early as the 4th century, and is richly decorated with wall paintings dating from the early 13th to the 18th century.