The miracle of moving the Muqattam Mountain is a well-known event in Coptic history and much-loved by many a Copt. The Coptic Church dedicated the first three days of the nativity fast to commemorate this event. Less well-known however is one of the story’s protagonists, Pope Abraham the Syrian or commonly known as Abraham ibn Zar’a, 62nd Patriarch of Alexandria. Despite his central role in moving a mountain, he is not attested for in any Coptic language sources.
Abraham ibn Zar’a was a Syrian merchant before his reign as patriarch, making his living in Egypt. Despite his wealth, his success, and his political connections, he was well-known to help and distribute his money to the widows, the needy and the poor. This presents in striking similarity to the life of St Simon the Tanner, the other great protagonist of this story, who spent his spare time donating his money to the poor and needy, filling the water containers of the churches, and was similarly well-known for his kindness and uprightness.
Author: Anthony Alcock