Saint Bishoi was the great Egyptian religious father who beheld an apparition of Lord Jesus Christ, and whose body is preserved at the monastery bearing his name in Shee-Hyt, Egypt, also known as Wadi el-Natrun. He was known for his love, meekness, simplicity, and for leading a very ascetic and prayerful life. He lived between 320 and 417AD.
Saint Bishoi was born in 320 AD in the village of Shesna, in the province of Menoufiya, and was one of seven brothers. Whilst he still a boy, his mother saw beheld an apparition of an angel, who said to her, "The Lord says to you, give Me one of your children to serve Me" She answered, "Lord, take whoever you want" The angel took the hand of Bishoi, who was sickly and thin. His mother told the angel, "My Lord, take one who is strong to serve the Lord" "This is whom the Lord has chosen" came the reply.
Around 340 AD, Bishoi left his home and parents, and travelled to the then desolate went to the wilderness of Shee-Hyt and became a monk under the guidance of Anba Bamouyah, who also ordained Saint Yehness the Short (also known as “John the Short”) into monastic tradition.
When Saint Bamouyah died, Bishoi and Yehness prayed for God's guidance, and an angel appeared to Bishoi, directing him to the site of the present monastery bearing his name, on which he was to live the life of a hermit. Over the years, he became the spiritual father of many monks who gathered around him, and thus developed his reputation for love, simplicity, kindness, and ascetic nature.
Bishoi often sought seclusion and quietness, so as to contemplate and expand his wisdom. Saint Ephrem the Syrian visited him, and Emperor Constantine and Jeremiah the prophet appeared to him in visions, and it is even said that because of Bishoi's love for God and his desire to be with Him always, he used to tie his hair with a rope to the ceiling of his cell in order to resist sleeping during his night prayers.
Bishoi saw the Lord Jesus Christ on several occasions. On one such occasion, he carried Our Lord, who met him as an old man on his way, and is also said to have washed the feet of the Lord, who visited him as a poor stranger.
Later in his life, an ascetic old man appeared near Ansena (also known as Sheikh 'Ibada, near Mallawi), who was reputed for his righteousness and to whom many people gathered. However the devil had begun to lead him astray. He taught that there is no Holy Spirit, and many were deceived by his sayings. Bishoi heard about him, and he went to him and he had with him a weaved basket with three ears. When he visited the old man and his followers, they asked him about the reason for making three ears for the basket. He answered, "I have a Trinity, and everything I do, is like the Trinity." They said to him, "Then, is there a thing called the Holy Spirit?" Then he started to explain to them from the Holy Scriptures, from the Old and New Testaments. He indicated to them that the Holy Spirit is One of the three Persons of the Trinity, that is, the Tripartite God. He convinced them, and they returned to the true faith. Then he returned to his monastery in the wilderness of Shee-Hyt.
In 407-408AD, when the Berbers raided the area, he left, moving to the mountain of Ansena. Whilst there, he met Saint Paul of Tamouh. Their love for each other was such that God promised them that they would never be parted. After the time of persecution had ended, they brought his body with the body of Saint Paul of Tamouh to his monastery in Shee-Hyt.
Saint Bishoi died on July 15 417AD (8th of Epip in the Coptic calendar). The preserved body of St. Bishoi and the relics of St. Paul still lie together in the main church of the monastery today.