- Important Egyptian pilgrimage (q.v.) site near Alexandria (q.v.) from the late fourth century. It consisted of the tomb of St. Menas (q.v.), over which was a marytrion (q.v.), which Justinian I (q.v.) renovated as a tetraconch (q.v.). Immediately to the east was a large late fifth-century basilica (q.v.) of the cross-transept type, its design and decoration influenced by church architecture in Constantinople (q.v.). To the west of the basilica was a baptistry, and around Abu Mina are the remains of other basilican churches. A great number of clay souvenir pilgrim flasks (q.v.) called "Menas flasks," once filled with miracle-working water from near the shrine, have been found throughout the former Byzantine empire. In general, the site illustrates the popularity of pilgrimage sites in the fifth and sixth centuries, as well as their imperial support.
Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . John H. Rosser .
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