Bloody murder, poison, and jumping from a tower. In the ancient monastery brought up a lot of mysteries

Bloody murder, poison, and jumping from a tower. In the ancient monastery brought up a lot of mysteries

On July 29 the Abbot of one of the oldest monasteries died on the threshold of his cell under mysterious circumstances. While investigators were trying to solve the Church intrigue, abode stunned new news: on the eve of the defrocked monk took poison, and his friend jumped from the tower (both still alive).


“” figured in a detective story worthy of the pen of Dan brown.

The body of Bishop Epiphanius found at dawn on July 29. The Abbot of the Coptic Orthodox monastery of Saint Macarius the Great was lying in a pool of blood near his chambers. It was clear that the accident could not be considered. The attacker crept up to the old man behind, when he went to Church, and bashed his head with a heavy object.

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The first killed said brother Gabriel, in the early morning walking past the cells of the monks a Bishop. In a few minutes near the body are 15 monks. Decided to call the Patriarch of Alexandria Theodore II and to talk about what happened — the Epiphany was considered his protégé. Then called the police.

By noon, the monastery was overrun with police. The body was taken to the city for an autopsy, and investigators have begun questioning witnesses in the monastery lived a hundred and fifty monks, with another 400 people went there to work. At the crime scene was dusted for fingerprints, checked the CCTV footage. From them were of little use: the murderer has chosen a corridor where there was no camera.

This could indicate that the offender was someone of their own. Outsiders do not know where the cameras are and where they are not. In addition, the Abbot wore a simple monastic garb and lived in an ordinary cell. For an outsider it is indistinguishable from other members of the monastery.

But who needs it? Epiphanius had no enemies, assured a reporter from the Egyptian newspaper one of the monks. Theft the motive for the belongings ascetic Bishop no hankering.

In social networks joked that the murder was over a hot theological debate. Supporters of the late Patriarch Shenouda III has always considered the monastery of St. Macarius a hotbed of unnecessary nonsense. What else to expect from the inhabitants of such a place? According to another popular version, the Abbot was killed when he decided to expose the secret love affair between the monks. The truth no one knew.


The monastery of Saint Macarius the Great stands in the nitrian desert on the road from Cairo to Alexandria. The monastery was founded in the fourth century, and the first Abbot was the monk Macarius — the closest disciple of St. Anthony the Great, who is considered the founder of Christian monasticism.

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Monks lived in this place more than a thousand years. While arose, and empires fell, rattled the war and revolution behind the walls of the ancient Coptic monasteries, all was still. In ancient times they were besieged by Roman troops, then they suffered the raids of the Bedouins and religious fanatics, now they are attacking ISIS (banned in Russia) and stormed the Egyptian army. Whatever is going on outside the monastery walls, the monks read the same prayers and observe the same rituals that hundreds of years ago.

In 1969 the monastery of St. Macarius came twelve hermits, which was headed by 50-year-old priest by the name of Matta El Meskin, Matthew the Poor or. Once he was a prosperous pharmacist, which contained two pharmacies, but later renounced his wealth, villas and cars.

Matta El-Meskin became a monk and then settled in a cave on the example of the desert fathers of antiquity. Over time, he had followers who for 12 years lived in the caves in complete isolation from the world.

By decree of the Patriarch of hermits engaged in the restoration of the monastery of St. Macarius. By the time he was in decline: there lived six decrepit elders, and ancient buildings crumbling without supervision and care. Matta El-Meskin raised the monastery and collecting dozens of monks educated — former doctors, engineers, agronomists and teachers. They began to help his poor neighbors without regard to faith — Christians and Muslims.

Epiphanius was elected Abbot in 2013. “He was just dressed simply and lived simply ate,” said Patriarch tawadros II at his funeral.

The Bishop often represented the Coptic Orthodox Church at international conferences, conducted scientific research, lectured at University and worked on a new translation of the Bible from Greek into Arabic.

Although the monastery were collected donations, money is always enough. “When the needs of the monastery appear before the Lord in our prayers, we miraculously bestow missing, and as much as necessary,” explained the website of the monastery.

During the download an error has occurred.Poison tower

A week after the death of Epiphanius monastery was again in the news. The Church hierarchy told him to restrict one of the young monks, brother Isaiah, who once fought with the deceased, he left the monastery without permission and did not follow the instructions of the Abbot. Published by the Church statement explained the decision “inappropriate behavior” of Isaiah. He didn’t want to observe the vow of poverty, behaved defiantly and neopredelennoe.

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This gave rise to a new round of rumors. So you are not involved in Isaiah’s murder? Everyone knew about his conflict with the Bishop, who wanted three years to expel the monk from the monastery. Isaiah was saved by the petition of the Patriarch, which was signed by many brothers. Perhaps this time, the monk decided to take revenge on the Abbot.

The representatives of the Church authorities were quick to refute assumptions about the relationship between the killing and the excommunication of a monk. Isaiah had long been waiting for the punishment, and the unfortunate Epiphany nothing to do with it. Detailed explanations and not followed, but in social networks said that the fault of Isaiah is much more prosaic: that he is voluntarily collected donations and gave money. Another monk who was with him, was expelled from the monastery last year.

The next day, after the exile, Isaiah took poison, but he managed to save. But the day his friend the monk Filotei (different sources name it Philotheos, Valtawa or Faltaous) slit your wrists and jumped from a four-storey tower — the highest building in the monastery. He was in the hospital with severe injuries: he has broken legs and pelvis, a damaged spine.

Both monks were taken into custody directly to the hospital. Isaiah testified, Filotei refuses to speak, but this is not necessary: one of the senior Church figures told reporters that the mobile phones of the suspects was allegedly found incriminating information, which reveals their motives.


The origins of the conflict between the monks, who were suspected of murder, and rector of much deeper than the unaccounted money. Isaiah and Filothei were followers of Patriarch Shenouda III, who was at the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church from 1971 until his death in 2012. He was a sworn enemy of the teacher of Bishop Epiphanius, the former Abbot of the monastery of Matta El-Meskine.

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Matta El-Meskin believed that the Church should be completely separated from the state. In his opinion, priests should confine themselves to spiritual and theological questions, and not to interfere in secular life. Shenouda thought the opposite. It did not suit the role of Church leader. He wanted to be a statesman and actively to influence policy. In addition, the conservative Patriarch disliked foreigners, and preferred isolationism, Matta believed that the Copts should establish contacts with other faiths.

Few decades, the monastery of St. Macarius lived in a state of siege, and Matta El-Meskin and his followers in fact did not obey the Patriarch. After his death, Shenouda ordered to withdraw books of the old enemy of all the Church libraries and sent to the monastery of his supporters to weaken entrenched there troublemakers. So got there Isaiah and Filotei.

The new Patriarch Theodoros II of sympathetic Matta El Meskine, but, like its predecessor, holds increasing influence of the Church in society. He used the murder to rein in the headstrong monasteries. Without waiting for the results of the investigation Committee under the Synod headed by the Patriarch, has stopped tonsured a monk and introduced many new regulations.

Now for the unauthorized collection of donations and to excommunicate, apparently “magical” financing of the monastery of St. Macarius in doubt and Theodore. In addition, the Patriarch forbade the monks to use social networks and first deleted his page in Facebook. Now the critics and free-thinkers will be more difficult to negotiate.


In mid-August, the Egyptian press reported that Isaiah confessed to the murder of the Abbot. It is alleged that the monk had several times tried to kill the Epiphany. During the first attempt he found that during the prayer and was unable to complete the plan. Then he has a chance to catch up with the Bishop before he went to Church.

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Everything turned out just for the third time. Isaiah waited for the Epiphany near his cell and hit on the head with a 12-pound pipe that is prepared in advance. Filotei, meanwhile, was sure that the crime scene did not appear more.

The monk explained that he went on a crime because of ideological differences. In addition, the Abbot may have found out about his financial fraud: the money Isaiah bought land and real estate. Filotea also have a grudge against the Abbot. Together with other monks, he created a page on Facebook criticizing the Epiphany.