Saint Menas Kallikelados

detail of an ivory pyxis carved with an image of Saint Menas, 6th century, Alexandria Egypt; swiped off the British Museum web siteAlso known as

  • Aba Mina
  • Menas of Egypt
  • Menas of Constantinople
  • Menas of Cotyaes
  • Menas of Cotyaeum
  • Menas of Kotyaeum
  • Menas of Mareotis
  • Menas the Martyr
  • Menas the Miracle Maker
  • Menas the Miracle Worker
  • Menas the Soldier
  • Menas the Wonder Worker
  • Mena….
  • Mennas….
  • Mina….
  • Minas….



May have been a camel driver in civilian life. Soldier in the imperial Roman army, serving under Firmilian. During the antiChristian persecutions of Diocletian and Maximian, Menas left the army for his own safety, and so he would not in any way support such a regime. He retired for a while as a mountain hermit. During a great pagan festival, Menas came down from the mountains to preach Christianity in Cotyaes, Phrygia. He was tried for his faith before the Roman prefect Pyrrhus, scourged, tortured and martyred.

His grave in Egypt became known as a place of miracles, and a basilica built over his grave became one of the great sanctuaries of Christendom; it was called the glory of the Libyan desert. Merchants travelling through the area spread stories about him, and churches built in his honour at Cotyaeus and Constantinople gave rise to local legends about him. The basilica was destroyed and his tomb lost in the seventh century, and was rediscovered in an archeological expidition in 1905.







In 1905-8, thousands of little flasks with the inscription: EULOGIA TOU AGIOU MENA (Remembrance of Saint Menas), or the like were excavated by C.M. Kaufmann at Baumma (Karm Abum) in the desert of Mareotis, in the northern part of the Libyan desert. The present Bumma is the burial place of the Libyan martyr Menas, which during the fifth and perhaps the sixth century was one of the most famous pilgrimage places in the Christian world. The flasks of Saint Menas were well known for a long time to archeologists, and had been found not only in Africa, but also in Spain, Italy, Dalmatia, France, and Russia, whither they had been brought by pilgrims from the shrine of Menas. Until the discoveries of Kaufmann, however, the flasks were supposed to have contained oil from the lamps that burned at the sepulchre of Menas. From various inscriptions on the flasks that were excavated by Kaufmann, it is certain that at least some, if not all, of them contained water from a holy well near the shrine of Saint Menas, and were given as remembrances to the pilgrims. The so-called oil of Saint Menas was therefore in reality, water from his holy well, which was used as a remedy against bodily and spiritual ailments. – from the Catholic Encyclopedia article Oil of Saints

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Menas Kallikelados“. CatholicSaints.Info. 11 August 2020. Web. 19 September 2021. <>