The Cave Church of Paul the Hermit

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At the Monastery of St. Paul in Egypt

Edited by William Lyster

View Inside Format: Cloth
Price: $95.00
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The Coptic Monastery of St. Paul by the Red Sea grew up around the cave where Paul, the first Christian hermit, lived in solitude. The cave served as a shrine in late antiquity, became a church in the middle ages, and expanded again in the early modern period.


This visually and intellectually exciting book chronicles the history of a series of devotional paintings in the Cave Church. It explores how the monastic community commissioned painting twice in the church in the 13th century, during one of the greatest eras of Coptic art, and how one of the monks painted it again in the 18th century, helping to inaugurate a Coptic renaissance after centuries of decline.


The foundation of this volume is a wall painting conservation project sponsored by the American Research Center in Egypt. The book also sets the art and architecture of the Cave Church in its historical context and examines the role of the Monastery of St. Paul as part of the sacred geography of Christian Egypt through time.


William Lyster is an independent scholar based in Cairo.

"Handsomely produced with scholarly commentary and excellent reproductions, this volume stands as both social history and art book. A must for any educational institute or public library."—Art Times

‘This second companion volume is equally well produced with good colour illustrations and a full account of the history, architecture and decoration of the cave church of the monastery.’ — Robin Cormack, Burlington, April 2010

"This sumptuous feast of a book presents groundbreaking, multidisciplinary work on the Monastery of St. Paul the Hermit near Egypt's Red Sea coast. . . . This book belongs in the library of any scholar or institution with commitments to Egyptian  history, Christian monasticism, and medieval or Byzantine art. . . . The book undoubtedly will influence future research on Coptic art and culture." —Caroline T. Schroeder, The Catholic Historical Review  
ISBN: 9780300118476
Publication Date: August 6, 2008
Publishing Partner: Published in association with the American Research Center in Egypt, Inc.
416 pages, 10 x 12
60 b/w + 250 color illus.