The ninth-century Persian historian Al-Baladhuri tells us that when Alexandria fell to the Arabs in AD 642, “some of the Greek inhabitants left to join the Greeks somewhere else.” This “somewhere else” was not specified.
In 1936, Lynn Townsend White proposed that at least some of these Hellenic Egyptians fled west, a claim subsequently challenged by Peter Charanis for lack of evidence.
Later liturgical studies by a variety of scholars have identified a large number of Middle Eastern prayers in the earliest Italo-Greek manuscripts, which supported the idea that Melkite Christians fled west to Italy, bringing their liturgical practices with them.
While Byzantinists have come to accept the idea that there existed a migration of ME Christians to S. Italy in the period during and following the Persian & Arab invasions of the Middle East, the exact provenance of these hellenophones largely remains a mystery.
One noteworthy migration pattern can be traced from Egypt to S. Italy. This is demonstrated by analysing some of the important Melkite liturgical data contained in the oldest Italo-Greek euchologies, beginning with C8th Vatican, BAV Barberini Gr. 336.
Insights can be gained fr examining the local Siculo-Calabrian traditions of marriage, together with some Egyptian eucharistic practices that were present in S. Italy.
The Italo-Greek rite of marriage and the Italo-Greek recension of the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom both contain an elevated number of prayers that can be traced in Egyptian Greek manuscripts.
IN FACT *WOW* it’s possible to show how some Alexandrian liturgical customs survived in Southern Italy long after they had ceased to be practiced within Egypt itself.
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