Coptic Orthodox Liturgical Chant & Hymnody
The Ragheb Moftah Collection at the Library of Congress
Map Detail: L’Ancienne Thebaide (1738)
St. Paul (ca. 228-ca. 341), born in Thebes, and St. Anthony (ca. 251-356), born in Coma in Lower Egypt, are credited with establishing Christian monasticism in Egypt, though other ascetics -- holy men and women -- had already lived isolated in the desert by the second century. Like the map of 1693, this map shows hundreds of sites of hermits and saints scattered in the desert, manifesting the richness of Christianity that extended throughout the country. This map honors Saints Paul and Anthony, in particular, and their biographies, in French, are at the left; fourteen numbered areas of the map are described on the right. Thebes, the birthplace of St. Paul, is at the bottom center of this map, in the area of the Upper Nile. Nicolas de Fer (1645-1720), the engraver of this map, was the Geographer to Louis XIV. He engraved over six hundred maps that were noted especially for the fine ornamentation of the plates. Given the life dates of Nicolas de Fer, this map must have been published posthumously. At the top left, the image of St. Paul has been cut away but that of St. Anthony is at the top right. The image of St. Anthony is signed “Guerard le Fils Fecit.” Possibly this was Nicolas Guérard, fils, a French eighteenth-century engraver and publisher. The Geography and Map Division does have another copy of this map with the image of St. Paul at the upper left but the map selected here has a more legible text. It is one of the earliest maps to depict Egypt as it currently looks.