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Until the 13th century. It housed the body of s. Mena and until the Arab conquest was a place of pilgrimage because of its water considered miraculous. The martyr complex, surrounded by walls, dates back main stages in the age of Justinian. Outside the walls there are small residential buildings and a church probably used for worship monophysite. Here was martyred San Menna of Egypt, in the third or fourth century.
Reports dating from the fifth century show different versions of his burial and the subsequent founding of a church dedicated to him.
The essential and common to almost all the chronicles that the body was transported to Alexandria by camel, until he came near Lake Mareotis.
At one point, the camel refused to continue, despite all efforts. This was perceived as a sign of the divine will and the body was then buried in that spot. During the reign of Arcadius, the archbishop of the region noticed that the crowd was getting too large for the small church: he wrote a letter to the Emperor and the latter ordered an expansion of the building, the first of three that would haveIt occurred over time. At the end of the period of late antiquity, Abu Mena had become the main center of pilgrimage Egypt. The first archaeological excavations were conducted between 1905 and 1907, bringing to light a large basilica, an adjacent church and a Roman bath.
A subsequent excavation work was carried out by a German group until 1998, leading to the discovery of a dormitory for the poor with two separate sections for men and for women and children.
To the south of the great basilica you are located in a complex which probably lived the hegumen. The big Xenodocheion, an area reserved for receiving pilgrims, probably originally a cemetery. Near the church is a baptistry, which shows signs of more remakes through the centuries. It was also discovered a complex of presses for the production of wine, along with underground warehouses back to the sixth or the seventh century.
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