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Patriarchate of Alexandria
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa

The Patriarchate of Alexandria, founded, according to tradition, by St. Luke, included in the 4th century Egypt, the Thebaid, Libya, and the Pentapolis, and had more than 100 dioceses. In the fifth century Monophysitism spread in this region. In A.D. 638 it fell under the power of the Arabs. In the 18th century, the patriarchs lived in Constantinople. By 1914 it had an extremely small population. The Greeks put the number at 150,000, but, as a matter of fact, at that time it did not reach 100,000. It is governed by the Patriarch, who bears the title of 'the Most Blessed Patriarch of Alexandria and all the land of Egypt, of the Pentapolis and Pelusium, of Libya and Ethiopia,' and lived in Cairo. In the Patriarchate there were (1st Jan. 1913) 7 dioceses, 5 monasteries, 31 parishes, and 55 churches. The Bishops with the Patriarch form the Synod.

Eutychius, Melkite Patriarch of Alexandria [933-43], relates in his Annals, 329-331 (P.G. cxi. 982 B., C.). "In the ninth year of Claudius Caesar the Evangelist Mark in the city of Alexandria called men to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ. While he was going round the city, the string of his shoe broke, so he went to a shoemaker named Ananias that he might mend his shoe. He took up an awl to bore a hole in the shoe, and pierced his finger so as to draw much blood and cause great pain. Mark then said to him, If you believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God, your finger will be healed; and, taking hold of the finger, he said, In the name of Jesus Christ let your finger be healed : and at the same moment the finger was healed and no more blood flowed. From that time then Ananias believed in Christ, and Mark baptized him and made him Patriarch of Alexandria. He was the first of the patriarchs who presided at Alexandria. And the Evangelist Mark appointed together with Ananias the Patriarch twelve presbyters to be with the Patriarch; so that, when the Patriarchate was vacant, they should choose one of the twelve presbyters, and that the other eleven should lay their hands on his head and bless him and make him Patriarch..."

At one time everything pointed to the supremacy of the orthodox Patriarch of Egypt, whose proud title (Papa et patriarcha Alexandria, etc.) is now the only reminder that its bearer was once in a fair way to become the spiritual rival of Constantinople. Such, however, was the case, and the common object of preventing this formed a bond between Rome and Constantinople. It was some time, it is true, before the two powers recognized this community of interests. St. John Chrysostom, as Patriarch of Constantinople, had already felt the superior power of his Alexandrian colleague. At the Synod of the Oak, held on the Asiatic shore opposite the capital, Chrysostom was deposed--through the collusion of the palace with the intrigues of Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, although the people soon compelled his recall to the patriarchal see, and it was only as the result of fresh complications that he was permanently removed (404).

At the Second Council of Ephesus (the "Robber Council" of 449) Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria, had already been hailed by a bishop of Asia Minor as "(Ecumenical Archbishop", when the energetic policy of Pope Leo I, the Great, and the death of the Emperor Theodosius II brought about a change in the trend of affairs.

Marcian, the new emperor, came to an understanding with Leo; a reconciliation had already been effected with Rome through the drawing up of a confession of faith, which was presented to the Synod of Chalcedon, the great Fourth (Ecumenical Council (451). Viewed from the standpoint of Old Rome the result was most successful; Dioscorus of Alexandria was deposed and exiled, and the danger of an all-powerful Alexandrian patriarch was averted. The Patriarch of New Rome-Constantinople-could also be satisfied. The solution of the question was less advantageous to the Byzantine Empire. When the Greeks entered into communion with the Western Church, the reaction of the Egyptians, Syrians, and other Oriental peoples was all the more pronounced. "Anti-Chalcedonians" was the term appropriated by everyone in Asia who took sides against the Greek imperial Church, and the outcome of the whole affair demonstrated once more the impossibility of a compromise between the ideal of a universal, and that of a national Church.

By the year 1900 the three patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem were not subject to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the patriarch of Constantinople, but were co-ordinate to him. The berat by which they are appointed confered upon them the same rights, and each of them had a synod which had the same rights as the Synod of Constantinople. They were inferior to the patriarch of Constantinople only in so far as they have no civil jurisdiction. The patriarch of Alexandria had jurisdiction over the Greek churches of Egypt, Libya, Arabia, and Nubia; the patriarch of Antioch, who resided at Damascus, over those of Syria, Cilicia, Mesopotamia, Isauria, and other Asiatic provinces; the patriarch of Jerusalem, who resided at Galata, a suburb of Constantinople, over those of Palestine. The aggregate territory of the three patriarchates was, however, but small compared with that of Constantinople.

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