During their earthly lives, Coptic saints must preserve their humility and protect themselves from worldly “vainglory” (al-magd al-batil in Arabic). One monk, Abdel-Masih al-Manahri (d. 1963), who hails from a village in the Upper Egyptian municipality of Minya, is fondly remembered among Coptic Christians all over the world for his loud, flamboyant acts of self-effacement. “I want to get married!” “Don’t thank me!” “I don’t know my name!” In the aftermath of his miracles, outbursts like these, of impossible desire and possible insanity, served as warnings to the witnessing public not to seek human recognition at the expense of eternal salvation. For this reason, saints are known to run away and hide from people, preferring anonymity to celebrity.
Angie Heo holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley. She is currently a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. Her research focuses on images, media technologies, and material religion among Coptic Christians in contemporary Egypt. She has published articles in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, American Ethnologist, and Comparative Studies in Society and History.