Michael Prokurat, Alexander Golitzin, Michael D. Peterson
MATTA AL-MISKIN, monk, spiritual writer (1919– ). At the ancient monastery of Deir el Makarios in a desert wilderness 50 miles southwest of Cairo, a Coptic monk is causing a mild stir, drawing as many as 500 visitors a day. Matta al-Meskin, or Matthew the Poor, like the great anchorite Antony the Great (q.v.), was once a wealthy young pharmacist. At the age of twenty-nine, heeding Jesus’ admonition to “sell what you have,” he disposed of his houses, cars, and pharmacies, gave the proceeds to the poor, and devoted himself to prayer and asceticism (q.v.), keeping only a cloak for himself. He was once very much of this world, and now is out of it. From his cell, living mainly on bread and water, he has written more than forty books and pamphlets. Most of these books are scholarly works on church affairs, but one collection of spiritual writings is available in English, The Communion of Love (1984). He has participated in a reformation of Coptic (q.v.) monastic life so profound that he directed the total rehabilitation of his monastery and was one of three nominees to be Coptic pope in the 1971 election.