Saint Anba Rewis | A few days ago, Egypt’s Copts celebrated the memory of the departure of Saint Anba Rewis, upon whose monastery land (anciently called Al-Khandaq Monastery before named after him: Anba Rewis region) was established the Great Cathedral of Saint Mark, in the days of Pope Kyrillos VI, the 116th Patriarch of Alexandria. The life of Saint Rewis is a model for the life that can reach high spiritual levels while living ascetically amidst the world.
“did not obtain a priestly rank, nor did he joined monasticism, yet he surpassed many of those having ecclesiastical ranks and posts, the popes have sought his prayers for them.” Pope Shenouda III said about Saint Anba Rewis.
As the Triple Beatified Pope Shenouda III said, Anba Rewis “did not obtain a priestly rank, nor did he joined monasticism, yet he surpassed many of those having ecclesiastical ranks and posts, the popes have sought his prayers for them.”
Saint Anba Rewis | The Fourteenth Century Era
Saint Anba Rewis is a luminous mark in the history of the Coptic Church since the fourteenth century. The era he lived in was dark for the Coptic Church, as the Copts suffered severe persecutions, they had many churches and monasteries destructed, that Al-Maqrizi stated: “These instances occurred in a short while, nothing was comparable to them in extended times! The number of perishing souls lost money and destroyed places was indescribable! And with Allah rests the end of all matters.” All this was accompanied by the outbreak of a vicious pandemic, a famine, and a wave of expensiveness pervaded the world.
Saint Anba Rewis | Many Names
Anba Rewis is known with many names: Freig, Rewis, and Tiji; although his birth date is not known exactly, it most probably dates back to 1334. Anba Rewis was born in Miniet Yameen village in Gharbiya, to a poor family, his father was a peasant called Isaac and his mother’s name was Sarah, they called him Freig when he was born. Child Freig used to help his father in farming, then to wander about with his little camel (Rewis) selling salt (Rewis in Arabic means a small head). The camel was a friendly one, responded to its owner when he calls.
Saint Anba Rewis | Freig
Freig was known for his great honesty, that many people used to buy salt only from him! His modesty, love and helpfulness for everyone had raised love of all the village people, he got popular in the village and its nearby areas. Freig left his father’s house at the age of 20 due to the family’s dispersion because of the persecution. He lived in “Bariyat al-sheik” near his village, then he went to Upper Egypt, changed his name to Rewis, and lived as a stranger in continuous longing for heaven.
Saint Anba Rewis | Ascetic Life
Anba Rewis had an ascetic life, he did not care about clothing, denied himself, and fasted abundantly; he used to eat occasionally every couple of days! One time, he fasted for 11 consecutive days! He was a permanent prayer and a frequent church-goer. He toured the Egyptian cities, working with his hands to provide for himself, eating too little to survive, and giving the most of his profit in charity to the needy and wanting, he was loved by everyone who saw him.
Gifts were offered to him in terms of money and clothing, but he did not accept them, severing his austere and ascetic measures, deeming the world’s possessions as obstructions in front of a person hindering his own salvation.
Saint Anba Rewis | Solitary Life
Anba Rewis settled in Cairo, solitary in a house for private prayers and supplication to God, then he took refuge in a simple place made of frond, or he used to sleep on the roadside, which exposed him to many offenses, beatings, insults, and other things! He used to lock himself in faraway places, isolating himself from people out of the severe sufferings he was subjected to, he abode in prayers and fasts, and when he was hungry, he would eat a little amount of bread only to support his body. Anba Rewis became so widely known that Sultan Barquq wanted to see him.
On one occasion, the mob led him to Prince Sudon, who ordered him to be beaten and paraded through the streets, then imprisoned with his disciple! There were Christian prisoners in the prison, so the Patriarch Pope came, carrying a decree to release all of them.
Saint Anba Rewis | Silence Life
Anba Rewis was endowed with the knowledge of many secrets and was known for silence. He used to inform about future matters and warn of future damages and misfortunes. Anba Rewis was a contemporary of four patriarchs (84-87): Pope Mark IV, Pope John XI, Pope Gabriel IV, and Pope Mattheius I. On one occasion, Prince Yulbugha arrested Pope Mattheius and others, Anba Rewis knew about it and he predicted their release, which indeed took place afterward.
Saint Anba Rewis | Departure
Anba Rewis endured severe illness with unique patience, and was bedridden for nine years until he was called the New Job! He was silent, praying and thanking God, weeping for the repentance of sinners. He used to cure his sick visitors, suffering himself the pain of his incurable disease!! When the day of his departure from the world drew nearer (in 1404 AD), he blessed his disciples, then he departed on the day of the feast of Saint Virgin Mary, for whom he kept great love, and was buried next to her church in Al-Khandaq Monastery, currently known as Anba Rewis region.
And … stories never end in Beautiful Egypt!
H.G. Anba Ermia General Bishop Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center
Delivered to you by COPTICNN™ | Coptic News Network on 2020-11-04 from Cairo, Egypt
COPTICNN™ | Coptic News Network & COPTICNN™ DIRECTORY | Christian Business Directory
Columnists: COPTICNN™ award-winning columnists are a fundamental pillar of our coverage. They range in their interests from orthodoxy, faith, politics, to world affairs, to business, to the arts, to the way we live. No matter the issue, they are always in the middle of our Christian discourse. They are trusted by our readers and followed by many Coptic Orthodox Christians worldwide. Influential, provocative, and engaging, our columnists provide insights and analysis that can’t be found elsewhere, making them a prime destination for WORLD readers.