The Church of Martyrs and the Coptic Calendar 

Throughout its history, the Coptic Church suffered many horrific persecutions; some expanding over many years and even decades. During the era when Egypt was a province of the Roman Empire, the Church suffered 21 occasions of persecution; one of the worst, known as ‘
the Great Persecution’ being during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD) that continued during the reign of his successor Maximin Daia (305-313 AD). So profound was the impact of Diocletian’s persecution on Coptic life and thought that the Copts formed for Church use a calendar from which their dating commences from the first year of Diocletian’s reign and accordingly, named their calendar ‘Anno Martyri’, meaning, ‘In the year of the Martyrs’. The first year of the Coptic calendar corresponds to the year 284 AD., the year of the accession of Diocletian. The names of the months incorporated into the Coptic calendar were adopted from those used in the ancient Egyptian calendar. The Coptic calendar has 13 months and the Coptic New Year corresponds to the 11th of September.