Pelusium (Arabic: الفرما; Coptic: Ⲡⲉⲣⲉⲙⲟⲩⲛ or
Ⲡⲉⲣⲉⲙⲟⲩⲏ), was an important city in the eastern
extremes of Egypt's
Nile Delta, 30 km to the southeast of the
modern Port Said, becoming a Roman provincial capital and
Metropolitan archbishopric, remaining a multiple Catholic titular see.
4 Roman military roads
5 Ecclesiastical history
5.1 Latin titular see
5.2 Melkite titular see
7 Sources and external links
Pelusium lay between the seaboard and the marshes of the
about two and a half miles from the sea. The port was choked by sand
as early as the first century BC, and the coastline has now advanced
far beyond its ancient limits, so that the city, even in the third
century AD, was at least four miles from the Mediterranean.
The principal product of the neighbouring lands was flax, and the
linum Pelusiacum (
Pliny's Natural History
Pliny's Natural History xix. 1. s. 3) was both
abundant and of a very fine quality.
Pelusium was also known for being
an early producer of beer, known as the Pelusian drink. Pelusium
stood as a border-fortress, a place of great strength, on the
Egypt as regards to
Syria and the sea. Thus, from
its position, it was directly exposed to attack by any invaders of
Egypt; it was often besieged, and several important battles were
fought around its walls.
Pelusium was the easternmost major city of Lower Egypt, situated upon
the easternmost bank of the Nile, the Ostium Pelusiacum, to which it
gave its name. The Roman name "Pelusium" was derived from the Greek
name, and that from a translation of the Egyptian one.[citation
needed] It was variously known as Sena and Per-
Amun  (Egyptian,
Coptic: Ⲡⲉⲣⲉⲙⲟⲩⲛ Paramoun meaning House or Temple of
the sun god Amun), Pelousion (Greek, Πηλούσιον), Sin
(Chaldaic and Hebrew), Seyân (Aramaic), and Tell el-Farama (modern
Egyptian Arabic). It was the Sin of the
Hebrew Bible (
15); and this word, as well as its Egyptian appellation, Peremoun or
Peromi, and its Greek (πήλος) connote a city of
the ooze or mud (cf. omi, Coptic, "mud").
Battle of Pelusium (525 BC)
Battle of Pelusium (525 BC) and Battle of
Pelusium (343 BC)
The following are the most notable events in the history of
Sennacherib, king of Assyria, 720-715 BC, in the reign of Sethos the
Aethiopian (25th dynasty) advanced from
Kingdom of Judah
Kingdom of Judah upon
Pelusium, but retired without fighting from before its walls (Isaiah,
Herodotus ii. 141 ;
Strabo xiii. p. 604). His
retreat was ascribed to the favor of
Hephaestos towards Sethos, his
priest. In the night, while the Assyrians slept, a host of field-mice
gnawed the bow-strings and shield-straps of the Assyrians, who fled,
and many of them were slain in their flight by the Egyptians.
Herodotus saw in the temple of
Hephaestos at Memphis, a record of this
victory of the Egyptians, viz. a statue of Sethos holding a mouse in
his hand. The story probably rests on the fact that in the symbolism
Egypt the mouse implied destruction. (Compare Horapolis Hieroglyph.
i. 50; Claudius Aelianus, De Natura Animalium vi. 41.)
The decisive battle which transferred the throne of the Pharaohs to
Cambyses II, king of the Persians, was fought near
Pelusium in 525 BC.
The fields around were strewn with the bones of the combatants when
Herodotus visited. He noted that the skulls of the
distinguishable from those of the Persians by their superior hardness,
a fact confirmed he said by the mummies. He ascribed this to the
Egyptians' shaving their heads from infancy, and to the Persians
covering them up with folds of cloth or linen. (
Herodotus ii. 10,
seq.); however, according to legend,
Pelusium fell without a fight, by
the simple expedient of having the invading army drive cats (sacred to
the local goddess Bast) before them. As Cambyses advanced at once to
Pelusium probably surrendered itself immediately after the
battle. (Polyaen. Stratag. vii. 9.)
In 373 BC, Pharnabazus, satrap of Phrygia, and Iphicrates, the
commander of the Athenian armament, appeared before Pelusium, but
retired without attacking it, Nectanebo I, king of Egypt, having added
to its former defences by laying the neighboring lands under water,
and blocking up the navigable channels of the
Nile by embankments.
Diodorus Siculus xv. 42; Cornelius Nepos,
Iphicrates c. 5.)
Pelusium was attacked and taken by the Persians, 343 BC (344
BC ?). The city contained at the time a garrison of 5,000 Greek
mercenaries under the command of Philophron. At first, owing to the
rashness of the Thebans in the Persian service, the defenders had the
advantage. But the Egyptian king
Nectanebo II hastily venturing on a
pitched battle, his troops were cut to pieces, and Pelusium
surrendered to the Theban general Lacrates on honorable conditions.
Diodorus Siculus xvi. 43.)
In 333 BC,
Pelusium opened its gates to Alexander the Great, who
placed a garrison in it under the command of one of those officers
entitled Companions of the King. (Arrian, Exp. Alex. iii. 1, seq.;
Quintus Curtius iv. 33.)
In 173 BC,
Antiochus Epiphanes utterly defeated the troops of Ptolemy
Philometor under the walls of Pelusium, which he took and retained
after he had retired from the rest of Egypt. (
Polybius Legat. § 82;
Hieronym. in Daniel. xi.) On the fall of the Syrian kingdom, however,
if not earlier,
Pelusium had been restored to the Ptolemies.
In 55 BC, again belonging to Egypt, Mark Antony, as cavalry general to
the Roman proconsul Gabinius, defeated the Egyptian army, and made
himself master of the city. Ptolemy Auletes, in whose behalf the
Egypt at this time, wished to put the Pelusians to the
sword; but his intention was thwarted by Mark Anthony. (Plut. Anton.
c. 3; Valerius Max. ix. 1.)
In 48 BC,
Pompey was murdered in Pelusium.
In 30 BC, more than half a year after his victory at Actium, Augustus
appeared before Pelusium, and was admitted by its governor Seleucus
within its walls.
In 501 AD,
Pelusium suffered greatly from the Persian invasion of
Egypt (Eutychius, Annal.).
In 541 AD, the
Plague of Justinian
Plague of Justinian was first reported and began to
spread across the Byzantine Empire.
Pelusium offered a protracted, though, in the end, an
ineffectual resistance to the arms of Amr ibn al-As. As on former
occasions, the surrender of the key of the Delta, was nearly
equivalent to the subjugation of
In ca. 870,
Pelusium is mentioned as a major port in the trade network
Baldwin I of Jerusalem
Baldwin I of Jerusalem razed the city to the ground, but died
shortly afterwards of food poisoning after eating a plateful of the
The khalifs who ruled
Pelusium following the Crusades, however,
generally neglected the harbors, and from that period Pelusium, which
had long been on the decline, almost disappeared from history.
Roman military roads
Of the six military roads formed or adopted by the Romans in Egypt,
the following are mentioned in the Itinerarium of Antoninus as
connected with Pelusium:
From Memphis to Pelusium. This road joined the great road from Pselcis
Nubia at Babylon, nearly opposite Memphis, and coincided with it as
far as Scenae Veteranorum. The two roads, viz. that from
Scenae Veteranorum, which turned off to the east at Heliopolis, and
that from Memphis to Pelusium, connected the latter city with the
capital of Lower Egypt, Trajan's canal, and Arsinoe, near Suez, on the
Sinus Heroopolites (Gulf of Suez).
From Acca to Alexandria, ran along the
Mediterranean sea from Raphia
Pelusium is named (as "Sin, the strength of Egypt") in the Biblical
book of Ezekiel, chapter 30:15.
Pelusium became the seat of a Christian bishop at an early stage. Its
bishop Dorotheus took part in the
First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea in 325. In
335, Marcus was exiled because of his support for Athanasius of
Alexandria. His replacement Pancratius, an exponent of Arianism, was
at the second
Council of Sirmium in 351. Several of the succeeding
known bishops of
Pelusium were also considered heretical by the
orthodox. As the capital of the
Roman province of Augustamnica Prima,
Pelusium was ecclesiastically the metropolitan see of the
Pelusium is still the seat of a metropolitan bishopric of the
modern-day Eastern Orthodox Church.
Isidore of Pelusium
Isidore of Pelusium (d. c.450), who was born in Alexandria, became an
ascetic and settled on a mountain near Pelusium, in the tradition of
the Desert Fathers.
Pelusium is today listed by the
Catholic Church as a Metropolitan
titular archbishopric both in the
Latin Church and the Eastern
Catholic Melkite Catholic Church.
Latin titular see
In the nineteenth century, the diocese was nominally restored as a
Metropolitan titular archbishopric
Pelusium of the Romans.
It is vacant since decades, having had the following incumbents, of
the highest rank with a single episcopal (lowest rank)
Joseph Sadoc Alemany
Joseph Sadoc Alemany y Conill,
Dominican Order (O.P.) (1885.03.20 –
Guido Corbelli, Order of Observant
Friars Minor (O.F.M. Obs.)
(1888.03.08 – 1896.06.22)
Giovanni Nepomuceno Glavina (1896.12.03 – 1899.11)
Alphonse-Martin Larue (1899.12.14 – 1903.05.01)
Theodor Kohn (1904.06.10 – 1915.12.03)
Titular Bishop John Francis
Regis Canevin (1921.01.09 – 1927.03.22)
Plácido Ángel Rey de Lemos,
Friars Minor (O.F.M.) (1927.07.30 –
José Ignacio López Umaña (1942.03.15 – 1943.11.13)
Patrick Mary O'Donnell (1948.11.08 – 1965.04.10)
Melkite titular see
Since its twentieth century establishment as Metropolitan titular
Pelusium of the (Greek) Melkites has had the following
incumbents, all of this highest rank :
Pierre Kamel Medawar, Society of Missionaries of Saint Paul (M.S.P.)
(1943.03.13 – 1985.04.27)
Basilian Aleppian Order (B.A.) (992.08.25 –
Georges Bakar (2006.02.09 – ...),
Protosyncellus of Egypt, Sudan and
South Sudan of the Greek-Melkites (Egypt)
^ Talbert, Richard J. A., ed. (15 September 2000). Barrington Atlas of
the Greek and Roman World. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University
Press. pp. 70, 74. ISBN 978-0-691-03169-9.
^ a b Donne, William Bodham (1857). "Pelusium". In Smith,
William. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. 2. London: John
Murray. pp. 572–573.
^ Diderot, Denis. "l'Encyclopedie: Beer". (University of
Michigan translation project)
^ Grzymski, Krzysztof A. (1997). "Pelusium: Gateway to Egypt".
Pelusium: Gateway to Egypt. access-date= requires url= (help)
^ Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus
digestus, Paris 1740, Vol. II, coll. 531-534
^ Klaas A. Worp, A Checklist of Bishops in Byzantine
Egypt (A.D. 325 -
c. 750), in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 100 (1994)
^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013
ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 951
Sources and external links
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Donne, William Bodham (1857). "Pelusium". In
Smith, William. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. 2. London:
John Murray. pp. 572–573.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
"Pelusium: Gateway to Egypt". archaeology.org.
Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pelusium". Catholic
Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
GCatholic - Latin titular see with incumbent bio links
GCatholic - Melkite titular see with i