Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/341

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301

ALEXANDRIA 301 ALEXANDRIA Christians multiplied, and other metropolitan sees were created, he became known a.s the arch-metro- politan. The title of patriarch did not come into use until the fifth century. [I'or the controversy concerning the manner of electing the earliest suc- cessors of St. Mark see that article and Bi.siiop (cf. Cahrol, Diet. d'arch6ol. chrdt., I, 120-1-1210).] I'p to the time of the second <rcunienical council (3S1) the Patriarch of Alexandria ranked next to the Bishop of Rome. By the third canon of this council, afterwards confirmed by the twenty-eighth canon of the Council of Chalcodon (-151), the Patriarch of Constantinople, supported by imperial authority and by a variety of concurring advantages, was given the right of precedency o-cr the Patriarch of Alexandria. But neither Home nor Alexandria recognized the claim imtil many years later. Dur- ing the first two centuries of our era, though lOgypt enjoyed unusual quiet, little is known of the ec- clesiastical history of its chief see, beyond a barren list of the names of its patriarchs, handed down to us chiefly tlirough the ecclesiastical historian Euse- l>ivis. Tlicy were, in order: Anianus (d. 84); Abilius; t'erdon, one of the presbyters whom St. Mark or- ilained; Primus, also called Ephraim, advanced from the grade of layman; Justus (d. 130); Eumenes; Mark II; Celadion; Agrippinus; Jvilian (d. 1S9). With the successors of Julian we have something more than a mere list of names. Demetrius governed the Church of .Mexandria for forty-two years, and it was he who deposed and excommunicated Origen, notwithstanding his great work as a catechist. Ileraclas (d. 247) exercised his power as arch- Mictropolitan by deposing Ammonius, Bishop of Thniuis, and installing a successor (Photius, P. G., CIV, 1229). Maximus and Theonas (282-300) were followed by Peter, the first occupant of the See of St. Mark to die a martyr (311 or 312). Then came Achillas, who ordained Arius through ignorance of the man's real character; otherwise St. Athanasius certainly would not have given that bisliop the prai.se he docs. On the death of Achillas, Alexander, who proved him- self a zealous defender of the orthodox faith in the contest against Arius, was elected bishop by unani- mous consent of clergy and jieople, anci in spite of the interested opposition of Arius. Alexander, ac- companied by hrs deacon Athanasius, took part in the Council of Xic:ra (32.5), but died soon after (328). The Mcletian faction took advantage of his death, and of tle absence of Athanasius from the city, to intrude a creature of their own into the vacant see, one Theonius. lie survived but three months, when Athanasius, having returned, was chosen to succeed Alexander. Of the ante-Nicene bishops who ruled this church, Dionysius and Alexander were the most illustrious, as also were St. Athanasius and St. Cyril among tho.se who sulxscfiuently filled the sec. Athanasius, supi)orted by Home, where ho sought protection and help, the unconquered champion of the true Faith against Arius, died in 373, a glorious confessor of the Kaith, after an episcopate of forty-three j-ears. The interval between the death of Athanasius and the accession of St. Cyril (412) was filled by Peter II, a zealous bishop, who wjis obliged to seek refuge in Home from the persecuting Arians (d. 381); Timothy I (3S1-3.S,")) who was present at the second aH'umcnical council, and was honoured with the contempt of the imperial court, because he vigor- ou.sly oppo.sed, and refused to acknowledge, the decree which gave the Patriarchate of Constantinople rank over that of Alexandria; Thcophilus (385-412), the inuuediatc predece.s.sor of CyTil. I'nder St. CjTil (412-444) whose noble defence of the Divinity of Christ has rendered his memorj" precious in the Church, the Patriarcliate of Alexandria reached its most flourishing epoch. Over 100 bishops, among them ten metropolitans, acknowledged his authority; he tells us himself that the city va.s renowned for the number of its churches, monasteries, [jriests, and religious (P. (i., LXX, 972). At this time, too, the patriarch po.sses.sed considerable civil ])()wer, and may be said to have readied the zenith of his reputa- tion. The decline of his office dates from the middle of the fifth century. I'nder Dioscurus (444-4.')l), the unworthy successor of St. Cyril, the CImrch of Alexandria became embroiled in the Monophysite heresy. Dioscunis was deposed, and later banished. The election of Proterius as Catholic patriarch wiis followed by an open schism. Preterms was mur- dered in 457, and Timothy j^^lurus, a Monophysite, was intruded into the see. The schism thus begun by Dioscunis and Timothy gave rise to two factions, the orthodox, or Catliolic, party, which maintained the faith of the two natures in Christ, as prescrilx'd by the Council of Chalcedon (451), and the .Mo- nophysites, who followed the heresy of Dioscurus. The former came to be known as Melchites or Ho.yul- ists, i. e., adherents or favourites of the emperor, and the latter as Jacobites, The possession of the See of Alexandria alternated between these parties for a time; eventually each communion maintained a distinct and independent succession. Thus the Church of Alexandria became the scene of serious disturbances, which finally brought about its ruin. We touch but briefly on the more important events that followed. The Catholic Patriarch, John Talaia, elected in 482, was banished by the lOmperor Zeno, through the intrigues of his Jacobite rival, Peter Mongus. In his exile ho sought refuge with Pope Simplicius (408-483), who exerted himself seriously for the re-cstabli.shment of John, but to no purpose. The latter never returned to his see. With his banishment the Catholic succession of Alexandrian bishops was interrupted for sixty years, and the local Church fell into the utmost confusion. The Em- peror Justinian, anxious to end this state of affairs, restored the Catholic succession (538-539) in the per- son of the Abbot Paul. Unfortunately, the new pa- triarch gave some grievous offence to the Emperor, whereupon he was deposed, and Zoilus succeeded him in 541, Among the successors of the latter patriarch, Eulogius, Theodore Scribo, and St, John the Almoner (d, C20) csix^cially distinguished them- selves, and restored to the .Mexandrian Church some- thing of its former reputation. In the meantime, through mutual factions, the influence of the Jacob- ites had gradually waned until the election of the Patriarch Benjamin (G20), On the other hand, dur- ing the contest between the Jacobites and Melchites (Catholics), so completely had the spirit of sectarian- ism extinguished tne feeling of nationality that at the time of the Saracen invasion the Jacobites did not hesitate, in their animosity towards the Mel- chites, the imperial or Byzantine part3', to give up (038) their cities and places of strength to the in- vaders (see Mohammed..nism). The favour which they thus secured with the conquerors enabled them to as.sume a predominant position [Dub, Hev,, XXIV (1848), 439]. Hitherto the Melchites. though far less numerous than the Jacobites, had held the civil power, owing to the aid of the Emperor and his odicials. By the treason of the Jacobites they lost not only this power, but with it many of their churches and monasteries. After the death of the Patriarch Peter (054) the Melchite succession was broken for nearly SO years, a fact that contributed much to the complete Jacobite control of the pa- triarchate. During this inter-al the .Metropolitan of Tyre consecrated the Catholic bishops, whose numlier rapidly decreased. The Saracen domination, so gladly welcomed by the Jacobites, proved to them more of a curse tlmn