Life of St. John the Little
Author: Zacharias of Sakhā
Translated: Tim Vivian & Maged S. Mikhail
Coptic Church Review 18.1–2 (1997)
In late antiquity, the desert settlement called Scetis (Wādī al-Natrūn) was a haven for Egyptian monastic communities. In this region west of the Nile Delta, thousands of monks’ cells dotted the arid landscape; and over the course of time, clusters of these cells were organized into more formal monastic organizations. The Monastery of John the Little was one such organization. Named after the fourth-century desert father, John Kolobos (“the Dwarf”), who lived as a hermit in the region and who was renowned for both his humility and his short physical stature, it remained one of the most active monasteries at Scetis through the period of Arab rule until its destruction by a Berber raid in the fourteenth century. Today, the buildings of this early medieval monastery lie largely undisturbed beneath the desert sands, awaiting archaeological investigation.