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Severus of Al'Ashmunein (Hermopolis), History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic church of Alexandria  (1904) Part 2: Peter I - Benjamin I (661 AD). Patrologia Orientalis 1 pp. 383-518 (pp.119-256 of text).








When Abba Theonas, the patriarch, went to his rest, the clergy of Alexandria assembled with the people and laid their hands upon Peter the priest, his son and disciple, and seated him upon the episcopal throne of Alexandria, as Theonas, the holy father, bade them; and that was in the sixteenth year of Diocletian the prince. And when Peter saw that the wicked Arians had filled the whole country with confusion through his unbelief, he cut him off and banished him from the Church.

And in the nineteenth year of the reign of Diocletian, his letters came to Alexandria and Egypt; and he brought trials upon the Christians, and destroyed the churches of God, and killed many persons with the sword; and those that believed in Christ fled into the wilderness, and into dens and caves. Then Diocletian established guards and watchmen in every place of the |384 province of Egypt and the Thebaid as far as Antinoe, and commanded them to kill all the Christians that they found. Afterwards those guards seized the blessed Peter 2, patriarch of Alexandria, and threw him into prison, and made known to the prince that they had seized him and bound him; and so the unbelieving prince commanded that they should take off his head. When the letter came to them with this order, they hastened to perform the prince's bidding. But when they wished to bring Peter out from the prison that they might take him and kill him, the people assembled at the door of the prison, and sat by it, to watch over their shepherd, saying :«When we are all put to death, then his head shall be taken.» So those soldiers began to consider how they should bring him forth, so that a great multitude might not die on account of him; for all the people had assembled for his sake, the old and the young, and the monks and the women and the virgins, and were weeping abundant tears. And the soldiers agreed together that they should enter and bring him forth, and slay any of the people who opposed them, as the prince's letter directed.

Now the reason of the prince's command to seek and put to death this |385 father and patriarch was as follows. There was at Antioch a man named Socrates, who was one of the commanders of the troops which served at the palace, and was a comrade of Apater, who was martyred with his sister Irene. This Socrates was by birth a Christian, and was baptized; but he denied his religion, and came to hate the Christians. And he had a wife who was good and charitable and a Christian, by whom God granted him two children. So when they grew and were fit for baptism, the wife said to her husband : «I pray thee, my brother, to travel with me to Alexandria, that we may baptize our children, so that they may not die without baptism, lest the Lord Christ be angry with us for our neglect of them». Then the unbeliever replied : «Be silent; for thou knowest not the troubles which have come upon us in these days; lest the king should hear and be exceeding wroth with us.» Now his intention was to frighten her by this; so that she might leave her children without baptism. But when she perceived that he would not consent, nor travel with her, she took her two children and two trustworthy menservants whom she had; and she went out to the sea-shore, and prayed, saying : «O Lord Almighty, Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, if thou wilt make my journey easy, prepare for me a ship in which I may depart.» Then while she was praying, she saw a ship about |386 to set sail. So she called one of the sailors, and said to him : «Whither are you voyaging?» He answered : «To Alexandria». She said to him : «Carry me with you, and I will pay you a high fare». So he consented to that. And she embarked on that ship, taking her two children, and her two men-servants. And after two days a high wind rose against them, so that everyone in the ship was troubled. Then that believing woman thought : «Verily God will not hear a sinner like me; but that which has come into my mind I will do». Then she arose and spread out her hands, and turned her face to the East, and prayed, saying : «O God, who knowest everything before if takes place, thou knowest what is in my heart, and that I love thee more than life or wealth, more even than my children and my own soul. Behold, we die in the midst of the waves for thy holy name's sake. O Saviour, O Lord, O my God and Saviour of my soul and my body, have a care for my children who are become orphans on account of thy holy name, and let them not die without baptism.» And when she had finished those words, she took a knife and said : «O Lord Almighty, thou knowest my heart». And she cut her right breast with the knife, and took from it three drops of blood, with which she made the sign of the cross on the foreheads of her two children, and over their hearts, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and she dipped them in the sea, saying : «I baptize you, my |387 children, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost». Then she embraced them, saying : «If death is to come to us, then let me die now, me and my two children.» So when the Lord saw her faith thus firm, he quelled that tempestuous wind; and there was a great calm. And they arrived after three days at the city of Alexandria.

So when they entered the city by the help of the merciful God, since that day was in the week of Baptism, which is the sixth week of the Fast, when infants are baptized, that woman went straightway to one of the deacons, and said to him : «My Father, I wish to have an interview with the patriarch». So he said to her : «What is thy business with the patriarch?» She answered : «My Father, I am a stranger, and I wish to baptize these two children of mine». The deacon asked her : «Hast thou no other business than this?» She replied : «No». He said to her : «Take thy seat in the church; behold the patriarch will come and baptize the infants, and will baptize thy children with them». So she did as he bade her; and when the time came, and the father and patriarch had finished the liturgy, they presented to him for baptism the infants who were to be baptized; and so he baptized them. Then they brought to him the two children of the woman of Antioch; but when the patriarch took the two infants to baptize them, the water was congealed, and became like stone. When Peter, the holy patriarch, saw this, he was astonished; and he commanded to set those two aside; but he told no one of the congealing of the water. Then he bade that |388 the other children should be presented to him, and when the other infants were brought the water was liquefied, and became as it was at first; and he baptized those that were presented to him. Then he gave orders that the two children of the woman should be presented a second time; but when they were brought to him, the water was congealed again, and became like stone. So he sent them back, and the infants of the city were offered to him again; and the water was unbound, and he baptized them. After that, he asked for the two children of the woman a third time; and the water was congealed again, and became like stone. Thereupon the patriarch bade the archdeacon of the church fetch their mother; and so he brought her before him; and he said to her : «Make known to me, woman, thy circumstances, and tell me what thy religion is». She replied : «I am of Antioch, and my family are Christians». The patriarch said to her : «Then what hast thou done? For behold, the Lord will not accept thy children for baptism». She replied : «Hear me, my Lord and Father, and be patient with me. For indeed thy Paternity knows how Christians are persecuted throughout the world in these days, and the worst of the trouble is at Antioch. And when these two children of mine grew up, and I found no way of baptizing them there, I asked their father to journey with me to this city, in order to baptize them here, but he would not. So I took these two children of mine, and went out with them to the sea-shore, and there we embarked in a ship; but afterwards |389 when we were in the midst of the waves, a tempest arose against us, so that the ship was near sinking. Therefore I took a knife, and wounded my right breast, and took from it three drops of blood, and made the sign of the cross upon the faces and hearts of my little ones, and dipped them in the sea, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, three times. For this reason the Lord withholds them from baptism. And this, by the truth of thy holy Paternity, is what I did». So the patriarch said to her : «Let thy heart be comforted, my daughter; fear not, for the Lord is with thee. When thou didst wound thy breast, and take from it the blood, and make the sign of the cross upon the faces of thy two children, in the faith of God the Incarnate Word, whose side was pierced on the cross with the spear, when the water and the blood came forth from it, he it was who made the cross over thy two children with his divine hand». Then the patriarch blessed those two among the baptized, but did no more to them; for he could not baptize them a second time, because the Lord had accepted them on the sea. For the patriarch said: «None can be baptized twice, for there is one baptism only; and these two have already been baptized once by the intention and faith of their mother, and by what she did».

Then the patriarch composed on this subject a homily, beginning thus : «The mercy of God which descends upon men». And he gave to the two children of the holy Mysteries. And he took them and their mother into his |390 house until they had kept the Feast of the Holy Easter. Then they returned to their own city in peace.

But when her husband learnt what she had done, he went to Diocletian, the unbelieving prince, and said to him : «Know, my lord the prince, that my wife committed adultery in this city; and when I hindered her, she went away to Alexandria, and committed adultery with the Christians during many days; and she took my children, and performed upon them a rite called baptism. And behold, she has returned hither. What thinkest thou that I should do with her?» Then Diocletian commanded Socrates her husband to bring her and her two children before him; and he. did so. And when she stood before him, he said to her : «O woman deserving of death, why didst thou leave thy husband, and go away to Alexandria, and commit adultery there with the Christians?» Then that holy woman answered him : «The Christians do not commit adultery nor worship idols; but do whatsoever thou wilt; for thou wilt not hear another word from me». The prince said to her : «Make known to me what happened to thee at Alexandria.» But she would not answer him. Therefore the prince commanded that her hands should be fastened behind her, and that her two children should be placed on her lap, and that all three should be burnt in the fire. So the holy woman turned her face to the East, and her children with her; and thus they gave up their souls, and received the crown of martyrdom. |391 

Then the prince asked her husband Socrates : «Who is it that does these things at Alexandria?» He replied: «It is Peter, the patriarch of the Christians». So when he heard this, he was filled with anger and wrath, because he was full of indignation against the holy Peter, the patriarch, on account of the writings which he had composed in refutation of the worship of idols. Accordingly he wrote to his deputies at Alexandria, commanding that they should take his head. And while the soldiers were zealously obeying the commands of the prince, and Peter was in prison, as we have said above, Arius, the unbeliever, learnt that they wished to kill the patriarch. Then Arius feared that Peter would go to his rest, while he would remain bound by his sentence of excommunication. So he went to certain priests and deacons and many of the laity, and begged them to visit the prison, that they might throw themselves at the feet of the patriarch, and pray him to set Arius loose from his bonds of excommunication. Now they thought that Arius made this request out of piety, and therefore they consented to his petition. So they entered into the prison, and cast themselves down before Peter, and prayed: Then they made prostrations to him, and besought him to loose Arius from his bonds. But the patriarch cried out with a loud voice : «Do you intercede with me for Arius?» Then he raised his hands and said : «Arius shall be at this time, and in the time to come, excluded from the glory of the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ». When he had said this, a great fear came upon them, and not one of them dared to answer |392 a word. But when he saw that they were afraid of him, he comforted their souls. Then he rose up from the midst of them, and took with him the two old men, Achillas and Alexander, his two disciples, and went apart with them, and said to them : «God, the God of heaven, will help me to accomplish my martyrdom. Then thou, Achillas, the priest, shalt sit on this throne after me; and thy brother Alexander after thee. Say not that there is no mercy in me, for I am a sinful man; but Arius is full of hidden guile; and it is not I that have excommunicated him, but Christ. I tell you that this night, when I had finished my prayers and fallen asleep, I saw a youth coming in to me, with his face shining like the light of the sun, wearing a garment which clothed him down to his feet, but it was torn; and he took up the part where it was rent in his hands, and covered with it his breast and his nakedness. So when I saw him, I rose hastily, and cried with a loud voice, and said : O my Lord, who is it that has torn thy garment? He answered : Arius has rent it. Therefore receive him not, and have no fellowship with him. To-day there will come to thee some who will intercede with thee for him; but let not thy heart accept him, for I have forbidden thee to do so. Likewise charge thy disciples, Achillas and Alexander, who will sit after thee on the episcopal throne, that they receive him not. There my speech with him ended. And now I shall accomplish my martyrdom, having charged you as he commanded me. You, |393 my brethren, know how I have been all my time with you, and what trials I have encountered, and the conspiracies of the unbelievers and idol-worshippers; and how I was continually fleeing from place to place, from Mesopotamia to Syria, and to Palestine and Ramleh and the islands. Yet I did not cease to write to you two, secretly and openly, nor to comfort the people through the power of the Lord Christ, clay and night; and I neglected not the flock with which I was entrusted. And my heart was greatly grieved; but in spite of all this I did not neglect the care of Phileas and Hesychius and Pachomius and Theodore, who were imprisoned for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and merited grace from God; for I used to write to them, and to speak of them in my epistles from Mesopotamia. And I suffered great trouble and torment for their sakes, lest anything should happen to them together with the priests who were in prison; for more than six hundred and sixty souls became martyrs. Now, as you know, I have the care of you all; therefore, when I heard that they had been martyred, I worshipped and thanked him who strengthened them, Jesus Christ, who also counted them among his martyrs. So likewise I pray him to number me among them. Moreover you two know the evils which have befallen me from Meletius of Asyut, who divided the Church of God, which the Lord Christ, the Word of God, redeemed with his holy blood, when he laid down his life for it».

Then the father and patriarch, Abba Peter, began to teach those two, |394 and charge them to beware of the guile of the aforesaid Meletius, that they should not associate with him. And he said to them : «Behold, you two see me bound for the love of God, while I am awaiting his will; for the officers of Diocletian daily deliberate how to kill some of us, as you know, and they assiduously carry out what they are commanded to do. But I do not fear for myself, and only desire to finish the course which God has appointed for me, and my ministry, which I accepted from the Lord Jesus Christ, my God; and he will help me to complete it; henceforth, therefore, you two will not see my face in the body after this day. I testify to you that I have declared everything to you; and I am pure and free from sin. Therefore keep the flock which the Holy Ghost has entrusted to you, and guard the Church of God which he bought with his blood; for I know that, after I am separated from you, some of the people will arise and speak words of blasphemy, with the intention of dividing the Church, as Meletius has done, whom many of the people have followed; but I beseech you to be vigilant, for you will encounter trouble. For you know what befell the Father Theonas, who brought me up, and upon whose episcopal throne I sat after him, and the evil which he suffered from the worshippers of idols. And I hope that a grace like his will come to me, similar also to the grace given to the Father Dionysius, who hid himself in various places on account of the heretic Sabellius. What shall I say also concerning |395 Heraclas and Demetrius, the two blessed ones, and the disorders that they encountered, and the hostility which they endured from Origen, the madman, and all that took place through him; and concerning all our fathers, who were before us, and what they bore for the Church of God? But the grace of God, which was with them, was that which overshadowed them and protected them.

And now I commit you to God by the word of grace, which has the power to preserve you, and to preserve his flock».

And when the Father Peter had said this, he fell upon his knees and prayed and worshipped with those two, and gave thanks, and clasped them to himself, embracing them, and kissed them. And Achillas and Alexander kissed his hands and bade him farewell weeping, because of his saying to them that they would not see him after that day in the body.

Then he returned to the assembly near which he was standing, and remained among them and exhorted them, and comforted them, and prayed for them, and blessed them, and consoled them, and dismissed them in peace. And when they went away from him, they informed the people of what he had said, and of what he had done in the prison with regard to Arms. And when the people heard this, they marvelled, for they knew that God was with him, and had separated Arius from them. But when Arius learnt this thing, he kept silence and concealed himself and his opinions and his guile, because his hope in the patriarch Peter was cut off. |396 

So when the Father Peter heard of the strife on his account between the troops and the people of the city, who prevented the soldiers from approaching the prison in which he was, he feared that some would be slain for his sake, and resolved to preserve his faithful people, and to redeem them with his own life. Therefore he sent word to the soldiers secretly, saying to them : «Come this night to the wall of the prison at the place where I will knock for you from within; and make a hole through it, and do what the prince has commanded you to do». And when they heard this, they accepted his words. Accordingly they went that night secretly to the place of which he told them, which was a cell where he was separate from the other prisoners, of which none of the people knew; and then he knocked at the wall from within, and when they heard him, they broke open the place where he knocked, and made an opening there. So he made the sign of the cross on his face, and put his head out to them, through the hole which they had opened, saying : «It is better that I should give up my life than that the people should perish for my sake». Thereupon the soldiers cut off his head, and went away. Behold then this most admirable deed!

Now there arose at that hour a violent wind, so that none of the people who were guarding the door of the prison heard the sound of those that pierced the wall; nor did any of the prisoners hear it. Thus this blessed father accomplished the words of the holy Gospel, and the words of the Jews which it reports 3 on the day of the blessed crucifixion, namely, that |397 it is better that one should die for the people than that the whole people should perish; and he was like his Lord, the Good Shepherd, who gave his life for his sheep. But the people meanwhile were sitting by the door of the prison, and knew not what had happened to him.

In another copy, however, it is said that he came out through the hole in the wall, and the soldiers took him and led him away to a place called Boucolia, the interpretation of which is Cattle-yard; and this is the place where was accomplished the martyrdom of the glorious father, Saint Mark the evangelist. But when the soldiers saw the holy Peter thus giving himself up to death, they were filled with awe, and dread fell upon them. So he asked them, and said to them : «I pray you that I may go and receive a blessing from the body of the father, Saint Mark the evangelist». Then they consented to his request, and said with shame and downcast looks : «Whatever thou desirest, father, do quickly». So he went to the place where the body of Saint Mark, the evangelist and bringer of good tidings, lay; and he prayed and received a blessing from the relics, and knelt by them, as if he were discoursing with the saint, saying : «O my father, evangelist and messenger of the Lord Christ, the Only-Begotten Son, who dost bear witness to his passion, thou art the first martyr and the first patriarch of this see. Thou, O pure and holy one, art he whom Christ, truly the most holy, elected. Thou didst preach his name in the land of Egypt, and in this city, and in the provinces which surround it, and didst diligently exercise the ministry which was thy work; and thou didst receive the crown of martyrdom. For |398 this reason, O father and evangelist, disciple and martyr, thou wast worthy to show forth thy faith in God, the Word and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thou didst elect the blessed Annianus because he was worthy; and after him was Avilius, and those who succeeded those two; then Demetrius and He-raclas and Dionysius and Maximus; and the blessed Theonas, my father, who brought me up until I came to the ministry of this see after him, though I am a sinner, unworthy of this honour which I received only by the greatness of his compassion. Therefore intercede for me, that I may be a martyr in truth, if indeed I be worthy to imitate Christ's crucifixion and resurrection; and that he may fill me with the perfume of life-giving faith, so that I may be to him sweet-smelling incense, by the shedding of my blood for his holy name. For the time is come for my decease; therefore pray, O my father, for me, that I may not be divided into two hearts or purposes; and that the Lord may strengthen me, until I depart from this world. And behold, I leave to thee the flock with which thou didst entrust me, and which thou didst hand over to me, and to those who were before me also, for thou art our teacher, O our lord; therefore be with us and with our children, according to the charge which the Lord Christ gave to thee».

Then Peter rose from beside the tomb, and lifted up his hands to heaven, and said : «O Son of God, Jesus Christ, Word of the Father, I pray and beseech thee to make to cease from us this persecution which is upon thy people, and to grant that the shedding of the blood of this thy |399 servant may put an end to the oppression of thy reasonable flock». Now there was in the neighbourhood of the tomb a dwelling-place, where lived a young virgin with her aged father, and she was at that moment standing to pray; and when her prayer was ended, she heard a voice from heaven saying : «Peter was the first of the apostles; and now Peter is the last of the martyrs». So when the holy father had finished his invocation, he kissed the apostle's tomb, and the tombs of the fathers which were there also. Then he ascended to the soldiers, who saw his face as it were the face of an angel of God, and so they were afraid of him, and did not speak to him; for God does not abandon those who trust in him. Thereupon the saint raised his hands to heaven, and thanked the Lord, and made the sign of the cross on his face, and said «Amen». And he took off his pallium, and bared his neck, which was pure before the Lord, and said to them : «Do as you have been commanded». But the soldiers feared that trouble would befall them because of him. So they looked one at another, and not one of them dared to cut off his head, because of the dread which had fallen upon them. Then they took counsel together and said : «To him that cuts off his head each one of us will give five denarii». Now they were six persons; and one of them had some money; so he took out five and twenty denarii from among the coins and said : «He that will go up to him, and cut off his head, shall receive this money from me and from the four others». So one of the men |400 went forward, and summoned up his courage, and cut off the head of the holy martyr and patriarch Peter; that day being the 29th of Hatur. Now Peter had sat on the evangelical throne for eleven years. But as for that soldier who cast in his lot with Judas Iscariot, he took the money and fled, he and his companions, in fear of the people. And the body of the saint remained lying as it was far into the day, until the people who were sitting before the prison learnt what had taken place, and saw the hole in the wall. Then they went in haste to the place where he was, and found his body covered with his garment, and the old man and the young virgin sitting there and guarding it. So they joined the head to the body, and spread over it a linen cloth; and they collected his blood; and they stood there weeping.

And the city was in confusion, and was greatly disturbed, when the people beheld this martyr of the Lord Christ. Then the chief men of the city came, and wrapped his body in the leathern mat on which he used to sleep; and they took him to the church, and placed him there on the synthronus, until the celebration of the liturgy. And, when the liturgy had heen performed, they buried him with the fathers. May his prayers be with us and all those that are baptized! Amen. |401 


When the Father Peter went to his rest, and the people of Alexandria were thus deprived of his presence, they sent and assembled the bishops together. And they made Achillas, the priest, patriarch instead of Peter, as he had charged them before his death. Then, when Achillas had taken his seat upon the apostolic and evangelical throne, a body of the people came to him, and prayed him to receive Arius. Accordingly he admitted their request, and made Arius deacon. But since Achillas received Arius, and thus disobeyed the command of his father Peter, he only remained in the see six months. And he went to his rest on the 19th of Baunah.



When Achillas, the patriarch, went to his rest, the people assembled and laid their hands upon the Father Alexander, the priest, as the Father Peter, the last of the martyrs, had charged them; and he sat upon the |402 episcopal throne. And some of the people came to him, and prayed him to receive Arius. But when Alexander, the excellent, saw Arius, he rejected him, and would not receive him, and said to those who interceded with him for that man : «The Father Peter, while he was in prison, said to me and to my brother Achillas : The Lord Christ has anathematized Arius; therefore receive him not. And when Achillas, my brother, disobeyed the Father Peter's injunction, he only remained upon the episcopal throne six months. Therefore I will not receive Arius at all, since he is separated from us». So Arius remained in banishment under sentence of excommunication for many years. After that he went to Constantinople, and laid a complaint before Constantius, son of the blessed prince Constantine, describing how he had been treated, and declaring that he had repented and renounced his false doctrine; and he swore to this. And thus he continued to hide his guile in his heart, until God revealed to him his power over him, and his bowels gushed forth from his body, and so he perished, as it shall be related hereafter. For it was on account of Arius that the holy council at Nicaea took place, at which he was anathematized, and the orthodox faith was established, and the days of the fast and the day of the feast of Easter were fixed. And our Father, the patriarch Alexander, was president of that council. And after that, he went to his rest, holding fast to the orthodox faith. His death took place on the 22nd of Barmudah; and the period of his occupation of the see was sixteen years. |403 



So when the blessed Father Alexander went to his rest, the Church was widowed for a few days. Then the people assembled and took counsel, and appointed the Father Athanasius, and seated him on the evangelical throne. And he wrote excellent treatises and many homilies; and he was called during his patriarchate the Apostolic, on account of the nobility of his deeds, which were like those of the Apostles.

In his days took place the council of Galatia at which Basil the Great, author of the Liturgy, was present, and in which they excommunicated the Arians, in the reign of Julian the misbelieving prince; and Jovian, the patrician, presided over this council; and Julian, the prince, was slain by the hand of the glorious martyr Mercurius; and after him Jovian the patrician was enthroned as prince, and gave rest to the Church during his reign. And Athanasius, the patriarch, endured many trials, and was sent into exile; for evil snares were laid for him, so that he was forced to leave his see by the frequent persecutions that he underwent: and he fled to Upper Egypt, and remained there for many years, and feigned himself a |404 workman, and disguised himself as a hired labourer, and did not disclose that he was patriarch. And the misbelieving princes, Valens and Valentinian, reigned eleven years. So when it was the Lord's will to restore Athanasius to his see again, through this patriarch's holy and accepted prayers, he destroyed those princes by an evil death, on account of what they had done against orthodoxy. And the Lord set up a believing prince, named Theodosius; and the Church rejoiced in his days, and there was tranquillity and security and peace.

When Athanasius returned to his see there was joy and gladness in the land of Egypt at his reappearance, because the Lord had counted the people worthy of the return of their shepherd to them. And this good spiritual shepherd remained on the throne of Saint Mark the evangelist forty-seven years, until he went to his rest on the 8th of Bashans, governing the Church, and subduing those who rebelled against the truth, and resisted the orthodox religion, and wearing as a garment the honour of the Lord Christ. So the people mourned for this apostolic shepherd of whom they were deprived.

And as for his history, he quitted his diocese three times, on account of the persecutions which overtook him, when the heretics took possession of his see; and his absence the third time lasted eleven years. And he wrote |405 from his exile to certain virgins in the city of Alexandria, saying to them : «Verily your bridegroom is Christ, the invisible and immortal one, so that, as long as you remain obedient to his love, you will not be widows. Know that I used to act as scribe for my father Alexander; and he never read the gospel in his cell or elsewhere seated, but always standing, with the light in front of him; for God most high had made him love to read the scriptures. So while he was one night standing and praying and reading in the gospel, behold, some nuns came, and asked leave to see him. Then they came up to him, and prostrated themselves before him, and said to him : There are in our convent certain virgins who fast during six days of the week continuously; but they do no work with their hands, by which something might be earned to feed the poor. Now we desire of thee, our father, that thou shouldst bid them work, and direct that their fast be kept in moderation. So he said to them : Believe me my sisters, I have never fasted for two whole days together, without breaking my fast during the day; but I only ate in moderation, and neither wearied my soul nor punished my body. For it is good that fasting should be in moderation, and drinking in moderation, and sleep in moderation. For if a man eats as he ought, he is strong for prayer; and so likewise if he sleeps in moderation; but to food there should be a limit, and to drink a limit, and to sleep a limit. So tell them to break their fast in moderation, and to work, for everything is good in moderation, that words may not be multiplied, and the beginning of them may not be forgotten». |406 

This is what Athanasius the Apostolic wrote and reported of his holy father, Alexander. He declared also that his words were like honey to those that heard them, for he was full of the grace of the Lord Christ; and that it was reported that Arius had come to this Father Alexander, and prayed that he might enter to him. But Alexander said : «Tell him thus : My father charged me that I should not receive thee, and that thou shouldst not enter to me, and that I should not associate with thee. For my father bore witness that the Lord Christ showed him in a dream his garment rent by thee, and commanded him not to receive thee. Or knowest thou not that it is thy tongue that has separated thee from him by what thou hast said concerning him ? Therefore pray to the Lord Christ, the Saviour, and confess thy sin to him; and if he receive thee, then he will command me to receive thee, as he commanded Peter, my father, not to receive thee. For Christ has commanded that we should forbid none of those that believe in him to enter the church. But if a man has committed an offence, and has sinned, then we forbid him, until he repents and is converted; and then if Christ receives him we receive him».

So when Arius heard this he was angry, and went away, and collected to himself a great body of followers, and composed blasphemous treatises, and denied his faith with his tongue that deserved to be cut out, saying that the Son of God was created. And the council at Nicaea was held on account of him; and there the heads of the four sees were assembled to judge him, |407 namely the patriarchs of Rome and Alexandria and Ephesus and Antioch; and Constantine, the believing prince, sat with them. And they finally settled the orthodox faith, and the time of the Fast and of Easter. And the prince said to the bishops in council : «I pray you to make the city of Constantinople a patriarchal see, because it is the city of the prince, and likewise Jerusalem because it is the city of the true, heavenly prince.» So when they saw his humility, they did this as he prayed them. And they cut off Arius the unbeliever; and Constantine, the believing prince, wrote the excommunication of Arius the unbeliever in his own handwriting, saying therein that he had caused those to perish whom Christ bought with his holy blood. Then Arius fled to Africa, and found no rest in the days of Constantine, the prince, and in the days of Alexander the patriarch.

Now Alexander had brought up Athanasius excellently well. For he was the son of a principal woman, a worshipper of idols, who was very rich; and he was an orphan on the father's side. So when he grew up she wished to marry him to a wife, but he did not desire that. Then she intrigued against him, that he might fall with a woman who was a sinner, that she might involve him in the mire of matrimony; but he would not do it, for the Lord was keeping him for great things. And she used to take beautiful girls, and adorn them and perfume them, and make them enter to him into his chamber, and sleep near him and solicit him; but when he awoke he beat them, and drove them away. For her constant desire was to marry him and to establish him in his father's possessions |408 and wealth, but he would never consent. And she sent for a man who was a magician of Alexandria, a wise man among the Sabaeans, and informed him of her circumstances with regard to her son; so he said to her : «Let me eat bread with him to-day.» Thereupon she rejoiced, and prepared a great feast. And the philosopher accompanied her son, and they ate and drank; but when the morning came, he went to her, and said to her : «Trouble not thyself, for thou canst have no power over thy son, for he has become a Galilaean according to the doctrines of the Galilaeans; and he will be a great man.» She said : «Who are the Galilaeans?» He answered :. «The people of the Church, who have ruined the temples and destroyed the images.» Therefore when she heard this, she said within herself : «If I neglect him, he will go away from me, and I shall be left alone.» So straightway she arose, and took him with her, and went with him to Alexander, and related to him the circumstances of Athanasius her son, and all his history. Then she was baptized, and her son also.

And after a time she died, and Athanasius remained like a son with the Father Alexander, who educated him quietly in every branch of learning. And Athanasius learnt the gospels by heart, and read the divine scriptures; and when he was fully grown, Alexander ordained him deacon, and made him his scribe, and he became as though he were the interpreter of the aforesaid father, and a minister of the word which, he wished to utter. |409 

So when Constantine, the believing prince, died in a good old age, Constantius his son was enthroned after him, but did not remain firm in the orthodox faith, only fearing and respecting the people. Then Arms found his opportunity, and aimed at taking hold of the prince, and drew him to his own mind, and corrupted his heart, and induced him to incline the empire to his doctrine, and led him astray, till he sent and summoned Alexander from Alexandria to Constantinople. For the prince did not know the power of Alexander, nor the cause for which he had anathematized Arius and removed him from the Church. Now Alexander had grown old and advanced in years, although he was strong in sense and sound in faculties; and Athanasius was his interpreter and scribe and mouthpiece, through the power of the Holy Ghost, on account of his knowledge of the orthodox faith. So the Father Alexander took his seat in the presence of the prince, who then summoned Arius; and Arius uttered his impure discourse, and multiplied his vile phrases. But Athanasius confuted him by the arguments which he delivered, and brought his discourse to naught. Thereupon Arius was troubled, and broke up the assembly, saying : «We will have another sitting.» And since Arius knew that he had no power against Athanasius, he gave money to the attendants at the royal doors, and settled with them that they should prevent Athanasius from entering with the others into the next assembly. So when the morrow came the prince commanded to bring them in; but when Alexander entered, the doorkeepers prevented Athanasius |410 the Apostolic from entering. When the prince had taken his seat, the patriarch being present also, Arius spoke and delivered a long discourse. So the Father Alexander turned to the right and left, but could not see Athanasius, his scribe; and therefore he was silent. Then the prince said to him : «Why dost thou not speak?» Alexander replied : «How shall I speak without a tongue?» So the prince knew that he meant Athanasius, and commanded to bring him in. But when Arius saw that Athanasius had entered, he went out hastily, and would not remain. Then Alexander said to the prince : «Know, O prince, that the cutting off of this Arius took place at the council; and it was not I alone that cut him off, but thy blessed father, the prince, and all the members of the council cut him off, and the prince wrote his anathema in his own handwriting. Therefore if thou wilt look at the letter of thy father, thou wrilt find that it is in his handwriting. Shall I then say of him that was excommunicated by the prince Constantme and the members of the council that I will absolve him? Nay, that would be an act of heresy on my part. For thy father in truth wrote his anathema and his excommunication in his own handwriting, at the council which took place at Nicaea.» So when the prince heard this speech, he was afraid of his brother, that if he should break the command of his father, his brother would find in that a pretext for plotting against him; and therefore he dismissed the Father Alexander, and restored him to his see. Thus Arius justly remained anathematized, and bound by the censures of the |411 Church, for he had supposed that he would succeed in obtaining his desires by his power over the prince, and by giving money to the attendants.

And the Father Alexander went to his rest with his fathers, after he had charged the priests and the people, at the time of his death, that they should seat Athanasius after him upon the throne. So they rejoiced at that, on account of their love for Athanasius. When he sat upon the apostolic throne, he drove the sect of Arius out of the Church, and brought forth the letter of excommunication which was in the handwriting of Constantine, the prince, and the members of the holy council, and read it in the church before the congregation. But when Arius heard of this, he was exceedingly angry, and his pride blazed up like fire, and he went to the prince, and said to him : «If Alexander, patriarch of Constantinople, will receive me by thy command, I shall attain my object.» So the prince summoned the patriarchy and said to him : «Behold, the patriarch of Alexandria has refused to receive Arius, and has disobeyed our command. But thou knowest that we have raised thee, and seated thee as patriarch upon the throne of Constantinople; and therefore it behoves thee not to resist us, as others do., since thou art good, but to take Arius to thyself, and receive him.» The patriarch answered : «Nay, the Church will not receive him, and it is not right that we should receive any except those who agree with her faith. For this man has declared that one of the Trinity is a creature, and has been rightly removed from the Church.» The prince rejoined : «That he does not do, |412 but on the contrary he acknowledges the Trinity.» The patriarch said to him : «Then let him write for me a confession of his faith in his own handwriting, so that I may know what he believes.» So the prince sent for Arius; for this was a thing from God most high; and he wrote a confession of the faith in his own hand, concealing his heresy in his own soul. Then the patriarch asked him to swear that no doubt of the truth remained in his heart; and so he swore to him. Then the prince said to the patriarch : «What remaining objection hast thou against Arius after that?» So the Father Alexander, patriarch of Constantinople, said to the king : «Verily the Father Athanasius, patriarch of Alexandria, has read afresh at Alexandria the anathema pronounced against Arius, written in the handwriting of the prince Constantine, thy blessed father, and in the handwriting of the fathers of the council of Nicaea, and has banished his sect from his church. But if no misfortune happen to this Arius from to-day till Sunday, then I will receive him, and will invite him to association with the priests. »

Then Arius went away, and waited for Sunday. So when Sunday came he entered the church, having put on splendid garments, and perfumed and scented himself, and sat by the door of the sanctuary, among the ranks of the priests. But the patriarch and his friends had remained all through the week fasting, and standing before the Lord Jesus, and beseeching him not to reckon to them the sin of Arius; for the prince had sworn to Alexander, saying : «If thou wilt not receive Arius on Sunday after his oath, I will exact from the church a large sum of money». So when the clergy and the |413 people were assembled on that day in the church, while Arius was present, the father and patriarch performed the liturgy, though he was sad. But when the reader read, the bowels of Arius were moved; and he went out to a corner at a distance, that he might relieve himself, and all his bowels gushed out from his body. And as he remained absent from the congregation, they asked after him, but could not find him. So they searched for him, and discovered him sitting rigid, empty, and shrivelled, with all his internal organs lying before him. Then they brought word of this to the father and patriarch, and he marvelled thereat, and was silent, and thanked the Lord Jesus Christ, and glorified him who had passed judgment upon Arius, and destroyed him swiftly, on account of his false oath and his corrupt faith. Then he showed to the prince and the congregation all the truth of what the Father Peter, the martyr, patriarch of Alexandria had said.

So Alexander, patriarch of Constantinople, finished the liturgy on that day with joy and glory and praise, and sent to Athanasius, patriarch of Alexandria, saying : «We glorify God and make known to thee, brother, that Arius has died a wonderful death, and his doctrine has been cut off, and his sect scattered.» But the prince was not satisfied with that, on account of the friends of Arius, namely Syrianus and George and their followers. These are they who made the assault upon the church of Alexandria. |414 

For the prince gave to George five hundred horsemen of his army, and sent them with him, that they might make him patriarch of Alexandria. And he wrote to every city letters, in which he repeated the doctrine of Arius, that the Son of God was created; but not one in the land of Egypt would accept it, and the people continued to receive the communion from priests whom Athanasius had ordained. So this George entered into the church of Alexandria by guile; and many of the Christian people who followed the doctrine of Athanasius were killed by the soldiers who came with George, until the blood in the church rose up to their knees; and they plundered the vessels of the church, and violated the virgins who were in it.

Meanwhile Athanasius lay hid; and the people continued for a long time to communicate in caves and deserts and in the fields in all the provinces of Egypt as far as the Thebaid; for the Arians, who were friends of the prince, were spread over every place. And Serapion, bishop of Thmuis, wrote to the patriarch Athanasius and all the people, that they should keep themselves from the Arians. And after six years Athanasius showed himself, and went to the prince, thinking that he would kill him, and that he would receive the crown of martyrdom. So the prince commanded that he should be placed in a small boat, and that neither bread nor water should be given him, and that there should be no sailor with him nor anyone to guide the vessel, but that he should embark in it alone, and be sent out to sea; so |415 this was done to him. And the waves carried him, while God guarded and guided him, until he arrived at Alexandria unexpectedly on the third day. Thereupon the priests and people went out to him, and met him with joy and chanting, and so accompanied him until he entered the church, and expelled from it George, and those who believed in his corrupt faith. And Athanasius kept on that day a festival to the Lord; and the people rejoiced in all the provinces of Egypt.

And after seven years a man came whose name was Gregory, with whom were two thousand men who were soldiers ; and he pillaged the church, and remained in possession of the see four years. And Athanasius was arrested; and the prince delivered him to a man named Philagrius, an unbeliever and idolater, for he wished to kill him, and to kill Liberius, patriarch of Rome, and Dionysius, patriarch of Antioch, because those three were the fathers of the orthodox faith; but the Lord rescued them from his hand, and saved them. So Athanasius went away with Liberius to Rome, and did not cease to remain with him until Constantius died, and his son Constans reigned after him; and he was orthodox. And as soon as Gonstans took his seat upon the throne he commanded to restore Athanasius to his see.

At that time Cyril was patriarch of Jerusalem; and a great miracle was manifested by his hand, for a pillar of light appeared by the tomb of the Lord Christ our Saviour; and a multitude of the Romans witnessed it, for all |416 those that were in the city and its neighbourhood came and beheld it. And it remained from the third hour to the ninth; and the people hastened to see it from every place. And Cyril wrote to Constantius the prince, and informed him of this wonder. Now Constans the prince loved Athanasius; and when he returned to his see, he remained twenty-five years in tranquillity and peace, although before that time he had passed twenty-two years in the see, in exile and conflict and persecution.

And Constans died, and Julian, the misbelieving gentile and idolater, reigned after him, being the son of the sister of Constantine, the great prince, and began immediately to open the heathen temples. Julian lived at Antioch, because he was unworthy to dwell in the residence of the great Constantine; and when he went to the place of the idols, he took a hawk, which he gave to the priest of the idols, who offered it to Satan, and Julian took its heart and ate it. And he had a sister's son named also Julian, an unbeliever like his uncle, who took the faithful priest Theodoret, and killed him, and then came to his uncle and informed him that he had put him to death. But Julian was angry with him, and said to him : «I did not desire that thou shouldst kill him; for the Christians take a pride in being slain, and say that they have become martyrs; but I am determined, if I return from fighting the Persians, that from everyone of the Christians shall be taken three ounces as a tax» ; meaning thereby that he would oppress the Christians, |417 so that they might worship his idols, because they would not be able to pay the tax. Now the Church was in those days rich, and had four pillars to sustain her, namely Athanasius the patriarch, and Anthony and Pachomius, the two monks, in Egypt, and Basil, the bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia; and Liberius was patriarch of Rome. And the aforesaid Basil was a friend of Julian, the prince, and was brought up together with him in the school; so when he heard his evil doctrine, he took with him two bishops, and went to visit him. So Julian looked at their garments and their beards, and then said to them : «What do you seek?» They replied : «We seek a good ruler to rule over us.» Julian said to Basil : «Where didst thou leave the son of the carpenter when thou earnest hither?» Basil answered : «I left him making thy coffin to put thee in.» The prince said to him : «If thou wert not my friend, and if I had not an affection for thee, I would cut off thy head forthwith.» Basil said to him : «Didst thou not love knowledge, and long after it? How then hast thou abandoned philosophy?» The prince replied : «I have studied it and learnt it by heart, and I have found it vile.» Basil said to him : «Thou hast not studied it well, nor learnt it by heart; for if thou hadst understood it, thou wouldst not have thought it base.» The prince answered : «I must imprison you until I return from fighting the |418 Persians, so that you may see what will happen.» Basil rejoined : «If thou go and return, God has not spoken in me.» Julian, the prince, said : «What have I to do with that lying Galilaean, who said, I will destroy the temple which the Jews built? For I will rebuild it as kings build; and it shall be evident to all men that his words, It shall not be built, are false.» Then he cast Basil and the two who were with him into prison.

So Julian marched into the land of the Persians; and when he passed by Jerusalem, he saw the temple in ruins, without a wall standing, for Vespasian, the prince, had demolished it when he destroyed the Jews, and took them captive. But Julian commanded that the ground should be cleared, and the temple constructed anew, and proceeded on his march after leaving behind him one to superintend the building. Then he who directed the work of rebuilding the place began by pulling down the remains of the temple, so that there was not left therein one stone upon another, as the holy Gospel says; and afterwards he began to reconstruct it as a heathen temple. And the builders used to work during the whole day until night-fall, and then they departed to their homes; but when they came on the morrow, they used to find all that they had built destroyed, though not by human hands; nay, they even found the walls torn up from their foundations, and cast down on the ground. So they went on for two months, without being able to rebuild anything. Then the Jews said to them : «Burn down these tombs, in which the Christians lie, and then the building which you erect will be strong.» This advice they followed, and set fire to the tombs, beginning with two |419 tombs, in which were the body of Eliseus, the prophet, and the body of John the Baptist; but the fire had no power over them at all, therefore they wondered greatly. And although the fire continued to be lighted for many days, yet it would not touch them. Then some of the faithful went to the governor, and offered him money, if he would empower them to take away the two bodies which were in the two tombs; and he accepted the money and gave them permission to do so. Then they carried away the two holy bodies, and sent them to the Father Athanasius, patriarch of Alexandria; and when they were brought to him, he rejoiced over them, as if he saw them alive before him; and he took them, and concealed them in a certain place, until he should find means of building a church over them.

And while Athanasius was sitting one day, and many of the faithful were with him to hear his discourses which gave life to their souls, behold, he raised his eyes and observed certain mounds opposite to the place in which he was. So he said : «If I find an opportunity, I shall build upon these mounds a church to John the Baptist and Eliseus the prophet.» And Theophilus, the scribe of Athanasius, was sitting with him at the table, with others of the faithful, and heard him say these words, which therefore remained in his memory.

But as for Julian, the unbelieving prince, he marched on into Persia; and God delivered him into the hand of his enemies, on account of the saints |420 whom he had imprisoned and threatened before his march. His death was thus. He saw in the night an army which came down upon him from the air, and one of the soldiers struck him with a lance on the head so that it pierced him through the body. Then, knowing that it was one of the martyrs, he filled his hand with his blood, and threw it upwards, saying : «Take that, Jesus, for thou hast conquered the whole world.» And after blaspheming thus, he fell dead. Thus God delivered his people; and the Romans returned to their own country. And Basil, the holy man, three days before the death of Julian, being in prison, had awaked from his sleep, and said to the two who were with him : «I have seen to-night the martyr, Saint Mercurius, entering into his church, and taking his lance, saying : In truth, I will not suffer this unbeliever to blaspheme my God. And when he had said this, he disappeared from me, and I did not see him again.» Then both his companions said to him : «Verily I also saw the same thing.» So they said one to another : «We believe this firmly, that it is so.» And they sent to the church of the martyr, Saint Mercurius, that they might look for his lance which was kept there, to see whether it was still there or not; and as they could not find the lance, they were assured of the truth of the dream. And after three days the letters with the news of Julian's death arrived at Antioch.

Then the chiefs of the empire assembled, and seated on the throne of the empire a man named Jovian, who was a believer and a holy man, fearing God from his youth. Accordingly at the moment of his election he released |421 the fathers from prison; and thus the saying of that pillar of the truth, Basil, to Julian, the unbeliever, was fulfilled, when he foretold that he would not return; as the prophet Michaeas predicted to Achab, the unbelieving king of the children of Israel; for God, the worker of miracles, was the God of both those men, namely of that prophet and of this holy father, and he accepted their words.

And Jovian, the prince, brought out the three fathers, and honoured them, and gave them many gifts, and sent them to their sees. And he used assiduously to attend the prayers in the churches. And he wrote to Athanasius, patriarch of Alexandria, a letter, in which he said : «O true father and trusty shepherd, Athanasius, martyr of Christ who is God, my empire hopes much of you; therefore be of good courage, and take the priestly staff and drive out with it the ravening wolves from among the reasonable flock, namely those whose mouths are full of cursing and the bitterness of the poison of asps, for they are the slayers of souls.» This letter was read in the church at Alexandria, and Athanasius the patriarch sent it to the provinces of Egypt, where it was read in their churches, to comfort and strengthen the faithful. So the followers of Arius were driven away because they were hated; and they were filled with sadness; and after this some of them went to Jovian, the prince, and appealed against the Father Athanasius, but he would not attend to them because he knew their wickedness.

Then Athanasius grew old and advanced in age, after he had written |422 many homilies and treatises; and he wrote concerning Melchisedech, and concerning the Father Anthony, whose biography he related; and he wrote forty-seven Festal Epistles. He wrote also concerning the holy cross, how the Lord Christ was unknown to the devil thereby, so that he believed that he was a mere man; and when he came to him, the Lord pierced his nostrils with his finger, which is next to the little finger, and his thumb, putting them behind him : which means that he rent, shattered, and destroyed Satan's power; showing us that he had overcome the devil's strength by weakness, for the finger which is next to the little finger is one that a man never uses, and is the weakest of the fingers; for he did not kill him speedily, but weakened his power, as the Scripture says, in the 67th Psalm 4 : «Let God arise, and let his enemies be destroyed.» Athanasius also wrote many works on doctrine, and things that cannot be numbered. And he used to write to Basil; and Basil used to answer his letters, and used to address him as My Father. And he wrote also an epistle to Arsenius, to console him for Theodore his brother, when he went to his rest; and he said in it : «Would that all of us had obtained the place of Theodore thy brother, and would that our ship had anchored in his harbour!» And he wrote a treatise in which he proves that evil comes from the devil, (may God shame him!) and that there is no evil at all with God.

It is said that this Father Athanasius, the patriarch, was borne by an angel of the Lord on one of his journeys, when he was fleeing from the unbelieving princes, until he brought him to the place to which he desired to go, |423 as the angel carried Habacuc the prophet from Jerusalem to Babylon, and as Ezechiel the prophet was carried from Babylon to Jerusalem; for that is not difficult for God most high to do. And there was in Alexandria an idol named Serapis; and when Athanasius was consumed by fever, and his death drew near, he said : «If I find mercy with my Lord Christ, I will prostrate myself before him, and will not raise my face until the gate of this idol be shut.» Accordingly the priests of Alexandria bore witness that after seven days from the day of his death, the prince sent and blocked up the door of the temple in which the idol was.



When the patriarch Athanasius, the Apostolic, went to his rest, the bishops and clergy with the orthodox people assembled, and laid their hands upon a priest, named Peter, and appointed him patriarch. And many troubles |424 befell him through a misbelieving man named Lucius, the deaf-eared liar, who was appointed by the scribe Palladius, without authority from the prince. But after some time the matter reached the ears of the prince, and he despatched an officer who seized Lucius the unbeliever and Palladius the scribe, and sent them both into banishment; and they remained in exile until they died. And the Father Peter remained patriarch for eight years, and went to his rest on the 20th of Amshir.



And the people assembled, with the bishops, after the death of the Father Peter, and laid their hands upon a priest named Timothy, and made him patriarch. In his days took place the council of Constantinople, at which the number of the bishops who took part in it was one hundred and fifty; and they excommunicated Macedonius, the misbeliever, patriarch of Constantinople, where the council was held, and another, Eunomius, because those two had blasphemed against the Holy Ghost, and said, in their misbelief, |425 that he was created. This was in the time of Theodosius, the faithful prince. And Timothy remained all his days in tranquillity and peace. The period of his occupation of the throne of Alexandria was nine years and a half; and he died on the 7th of Abib, maintaining the orthodox faith.



When the Father Timothy died, the bishops and people assembled, and appointed Theophilus patriarch. He had been secretary to the patriarch Athanasius, and was righteous in his conduct before God and men. When he took his seat upon the patriarchal throne, news was brought to him that the idolaters had gone to Jerusalem, to open the house of their idols. So he sent some monks thither to drive them away; but the monks were unable to overcome the idolaters. Then Theophilus sent to the monastery of Pachomius in Upper Egypt, and fetched the religious thence, and despatched them to Jerusalem. And when they reached that city, they offered up prayers, |426 and the devils fled from the heathen temple; and that temple was made a habitation for the monks of Jerusalem. When the monks of Upper Egypt returned homewards, the patriarch Theophilus forced them to remain and eat with him by themselves, and entertained them from Sunday to the following Sunday; and he gave them a garden which had belonged to the patriarch Athanasius.

Then the Father Theophilus, the patriarch, remembered the words of Athanasius, which he uttered when he was eating with Theophilus, while he was his scribe. Athanasius said that it was his desire to clear away the mounds of rubbish which he saw, and to build on their site a church to the names of the Baptist and the prophet Eliseus. And at that time, a woman, who had two sons, cleared away the mounds, as his letter testifies, and a stone slab was discovered, upon which three thetas were inscribed; and her history is related in that letter, besides a story of Theophilus and the Angel Raphael, which is not written in this biography. And when Theophilus removed the slab, he found beneath it the money which he required; so he built the churches with it. He built in a certain spot beside the garden a church to which he translated the body of Saint John the Baptist, and the body of the prophet Eliseus; and many miracles were performed by them both on that day, and a number of people who had been sick were healed.

Theophilus wrote, in the course of his life, many homilies and treatises. |427 Now the emperor Valentinian had died after reigning twelve years; and Valentinian and Gratian, his two sons, reigned after him; and they were believers, and loved God, whose name is glorious. When Theophilus administered the sacrament of baptism, he used to behold a beam of light in the form of a cross over the font before him. But in a certain year, when he stood and blessed the font, during the week of baptism, the cross of light did not appear to him; and he was sad. And it was revealed to him that the reason was that he had not sent for the deacon Arsenius to pray with him, and that if he did not do so the light would not appear to him. So Theophilus dismissed the congregation that day, and sent to seek Arsenius, and found him in the neighbourhood of Ushmûn, and brought him to the church in haste. And the patriarch rejoiced greatly over the arrival of Arsenius, and was consoled; and the cross appeared once more over the font. Theophilus, when he saw the humility of this deacon, and his virtue, desired to ordain him priest; but Arsenius would not consent, and begged the patriarch to spare him that promotion, and to bless him, and let him return to his native country. So the patriarch granted the request of Arsenius.

Now Theophilus had a nephew, his sister's son, named Cyril, whom he had instructed and brought up to the best of his power. And after some time the patriarch sent him to the Mount of Nitria, to the desert of Saint Macarius. And Cyril dwelt there five years in the monasteries, reading the books of the Old and New Testaments; for Theophilus urged him to apply himself assiduously to his studies, saying to him : «By these studies thou |428 wilt some day arrive in Jerusalem on high, which is the dwelling-place of the saints». For Cyril was the attendant of Theophilus in the patriarchal cell, and was ordained reader. The patriarch, when he sent Cyril to the desert, entrusted him to Serapion the Wise, and charged him to teach Cyril the doctrines of the Church, which are the true doctrines of God; so Cyril learnt all the Scriptures by heart. He used to stand before his teacher studying, with a sword of iron in his hand; and if he felt an inclination to sleep, he pricked him with the sword, and so he woke up again; and during most of his nights he would read through in a single night the Four Gospels, and the Catholic Epistles, and the Acts, and the first Epistle of the Blessed Paul, namely, that addressed to the Romans; and on the morrow after this, Cyril's teacher would know, by looking at his face, that he had studied all night. And the grace of God was with Cyril, so that when he had read a book once, he knew it by heart; and in these years in the desert he learnt by heart all the canonical books. After this, the patriarch Theophilus sent to him and brought him back to Alexandria, and there Cyril dwelt with the patriarch in his cell, and read aloud in his presence; and the priests and learned men and philosophers were astonished at him, and rejoiced over him on account of the beauty of his form, and the sweetness of his voice which never changed, as it is written 5 : «I opened my mouth and drew in my breath». And all the people, when they heard him read, desired that he might never cease |429 reading, because he read so sweetly, and was so beautiful in countenance. And his uncle Theophilus loved him greatly, and thanked God that he had granted him a spiritual son who had grown in grace and wisdom. Cyril's conduct was excellent, and his humility great; and he never ceased to study theology, nor to meditate upon the words of the doctors of the orthodox Church, Athanasius and Dionysius and Clement, patriarch of Rome, and Eusebius, and Basil, bishop of Armenia, and Basil, bishop of Cappadocia. These are the orthodox fathers whose works he studied. And he would not follow the doctrine of Origen, nor even take his books into his hand for a single day; but when he heard that one of the faithful had read Origen, he condemned and excommunicated him who had so read. When Cyril read in the Gospel the words 6: «Ask and ye shall receive; seek and ye shall find», he understood these words, and prayed to God for knowledge, and God gave it him. For he was like the bee, which goes forth to feed upon every plant and tree, and collects what is profitable for itself, until it has filled its bag with pure untainted honey.

Now the history of the Father Theophilus is very copious; for it contains the account of his dealings at Alexandria with Theodosius, the great prince; and the miracles which the Angel Raphael performed for him; and the affair of the widow and her two sons, whom he made bishops; and the three thetas |430 which were found written on the slab of stone which concealed the treasures that were discovered at Alexandria; and the wonders manifested by the Angel Raphael in the church which Theophilus built upon the island; and then the authority given to him by the prince over the property of the heathen temples, from Aswan to the confines of Syria, and in the provinces that lie between them.



When the patriarch Theophilus died, the Father Cyril took his seat upon the apostolic throne; and the bishops raised the Four Gospels over his head, and prayed over him, saying : «O God, strengthen this man whom thou hast chosen for us.» The first thing that Cyril did was to appoint priests to take charge of the churches throughout his diocese, so that they might not be drawn away from the spiritual food by which they were able to do that which pleases God; and he began his patriarchate full of the wisdom which gives life. And the prince, Theodosius the Younger, who loved God, followed the injunctions |431 of his fathers, and assembled the monks around him, and performed his devotions in their company; but he had no son, and his sister administered the empire. Now the patriarch Cyril never wearied of composing discourses and homilies by the power of the Holy Ghost, who spoke through him; so that most of the principal inhabitants of Alexandria appointed copyists to transcribe for them what the father composed. Then certain philosophers said to him : «Behold, here are discourses written by the prince Julian, in which he casts contempt upon Moses and all the prophets, and alleges that Christ was a mere man; and we used to read his books because it was the prince who wrote them. Julian says : The words of the Galilean will I make lies; for Christ said 7 : There shall not remain one stone upon another in the temple of Jerusalem that shall not be thrown down. But I will rebuild the temple, and falsify his words. Accordingly Julian destroyed what remained of the temple, that he might rebuild it; but after all he died without restoring any part of it. Thus the words of the Saviour were proved to be true, and we have learnt how great is his power and majesty because none of his words have been falsified.» Now when Cyril heard these things, he was much troubled, until he had found a copy of Julian's works, and had read them; and he found them worse even than the works of Origen and Porphyry. |432 So when Cyril found that he was unable to collect all the copies of Julian's works which were scattered here and there in the possession of different persons, he wrote to the prince Theodosius to inform him of this matter, saying : «If it is thy pleasure that Julian's works be destroyed and his misbelief rooted out, order these books which he composed, and by means of which he led men astray, to be collected, and cause them to be burnt.» And the prince approved of Cyril's letter, and glorified God, and acted in accordance with Cyril's suggestions, and wrote a reply, in which he requested him to bless his empire. So the Father Cyril rejoiced, and composed homilies and discourses, in which he refuted the writings of the prince Julian, and condemned his actions, pointing out how the angel destroyed him in war like Saul; and much besides.

After this the news concerning Nestorius reached the ears of Cyril, and he was informed of the corrupt doctrine of that heretic. And Cyril was sad when he heard this, and said : «No sooner has the misbelief of Julian passed away, than the blasphemies of Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, have appeared.» So Cyril, when he had ascertained how false the opinions of Nestorius were, wrote to him as follows :

«Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria, addresses Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, with the salutation of the brethren in the true God, who has given us the grace which is one, setting all the world in agreement and |433 in one belief, by the shedding of his blood, which grace is the faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ».

The rest of the epistle is well known, and therefore has not been transcribed in this history. And Nestorius returned an answer which was full of blasphemies. So Abba Cyril wrote to the bishops, to inform them of the case of Nestorius; and they met the patriarch in synod, and said to him : «We have heard the reports concerning Nestorius, and there is a special difficulty in regard to his circumstances. For Arius and his followers, and Paul and Manes and the rest of the heretics were not patriarchs, and yet they led a multitude of men astray. How then can this man remain patriarch of Constantinople?»

Then the Father Cyril wrote to Nestorius a second letter in which he said many things, including the following words : «Verily I do not fully believe what is told me of thee». And he added exhortations and warnings, and taught Nestorius what is the right faith, and begged him to return from his heretical doctrine, and told him that he was not strong enough to oppose God who mounted the Cross for our sakes. The following is a transcription of Cyril's letter:

«To my brother and fellow-minister. I did not believe at first what was reported of thee, nor that the contents of the letters, which came to me, and which were said to be written by thee, in reality proceeded from thee. For the lying doctrines which they contained were attributed to the saints; for they were letters full of blasphemy. And now I charge thee to cast away this blasphemy and these disputes; for thou hast no power to fight against |434 God, who was crucified for us in truth, and died in the body, although he was living in the power of his Godhead. For it is he that is sitting on the right hand of the Father, while the angels and principalities and powers worship him; and he is the eternal King, into whose hands the Father has given all things. And he is the Creator of all; so that thou hast no power to oppose him. I told thee what befell the Jews who withstood him, so that thou art not ignorant of it, and what befell the heretics, Simon Magus and the prince Julian and Arius. Behold what Job the truthful says 8: Look upon my wounds, and fear, and glorify God. I tell thee that the Church will not endure that thou insult her God; and she it is against whom the gates of hell shall not prevail; for thou knowest what trials she has undergone, and yet that no man has ever had power over her, because she is as a rock in her faith. Beware therefore what thou doest at this time. Farewell.»

When this second letter reached Nestorius, he wrote another answer like his first, full of blasphemies, and, when the Father Cyril received it, he again addressed an epistle to Nestorius, saying :

«If thou wert not a bishop, none would know of thee save thy neighbours and kinsmen; but since thou sittest upon the episcopal throne of the Son of God all know thee, through the fame of the Church. Thou hast attacked the Lord with words of blasphemy, which thou canst not confirm or prove. |435 For if thou searchest the Old Testament, thou canst not find therein that Christ is called a mere man, as thou pretendest; and in saying thus thou showest only that thou dost resist God thy Creator, who bought thee with his blood, namely God the Son, Son of God the Father. So he is called both in the Old and New Testaments. So he is called in the Gospel of John, which speaks of him as the Only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of his Father 9. Matthew the evangelist also says 10 that Christ is Emmanuel, the interpretation of which is God with us, as Isaias says 11 in his prophecy. Mark testifies 12 in his Gospel that when the high priest asked of Jesus : Art thou the Son of God? he answered : Yea, I am he; and hereafter you shall see the Son of God sitting on the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds to judge the living and the dead. Is not this testimony that of which Paul says 13 that it was the good confession which Jesus made before Pontius Pilate? This is the confession in which the Church perseveres, and for it myriads of martyrs have died, whose numbers cannot be counted. Hast thou not heard Gabriel saying 14 to our Lady Mary that he whom she should bear was of the Holy Ghost, and should be called the Son of God, who is over all, and glorified for ever and ever? Who is it that bears the sins of the world? Is it not Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, whom she bore for us, God the Word incarnate? If thou believest that he was a prophet like |436 Moses, yet neither Moses nor any of the prophets was able to bear the sins of the world; but it is the Prince of goodness, even Christ, who bears the sins of the world by his being raised upon the cross for our sakes. Hast thou not heard Paul, the apostle, saying 15 : He is not man, but he is God who became man? Again Paul says 16 that it was no angel or intercessor that saved us, but Jesus Christ; and God the Father raised him from the dead. Seest thou now how he confesses that he is God, and how he acknowledges the sufferings that he endured in his holy body? For if he be not God, how could Paul acknowledge that our salvation came not by a man nor from a man, nor by an angel or intercessor, but by God, even Jesus Christ, whose death he also acknowledges, when he says that the Father raised him from the dead? Thou seest now this wisdom, full of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. I have sent thee these letters, my brother, that thou mayest preserve them in the church. Thou art not without knowledge, so read the scriptures and learn from them these things and more besides. I have sent the brethren to thee, and have asked them to remain with thee, that thou mayest enquire diligently during a month, and search through the scriptures, and write to us of what befalls thee. Farewell.»

When Nestorius had perused this epistle, he would not receive the brethren who had brought it to him, nor would he accept the advice contained |437 in the letter or write an answer to it. So the messengers remained a whole month at Constantinople, as Abba Cyril, the patriarch, commanded them, and paid frequent visits to Nestorius; but he would not allow them to enter, and hardened his heart, as Pharao did.

Now Nestorius had been a friend of the prince Theodosius since the time when they were together in the school; and the prince used to say to Nestorius : «I have never heard any of the doctors of the Church teach according to thy doctrine.» But Nestorius would not listen to him. ---- So the messengers sent to Nestorius by Cyril returned to him, and told him what had happened. Then Cyril availed himself of the weapons of his fathers, Alexander and Athanasius, and put on the breastplate of faith which his predecessors had handed down in the Church of Saint Mark the Evangelist; and he went out to war, as David did, with his heart strong in Christ who is God. And he wrote to the other bishops, and they sent a letter to the prince, begging him to allow them to hold a council to enquire into the teaching of Nestorius, and reminding him that his fathers, who had reigned before him, had at all times been supporters of the Church. «They constantly assisted the bishops to confirm the orthodox faith, that they might bless their empire. But now this Nestorius has divided the Church, and is not far from the error of idolatry, since he blasphemously teaches that Christ is a mere man, and no more than a prophet. Many prophets have come into the world, but none of them has ever been worshipped; so that if Nestorius |438 worships a man, he is become an idolater. When Peter said 17 to our Lord Christ : Master, it is good for us to be here, and let us make three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias, he said it because Christ was the Creator of those two and their God, and had manifested his glory to his disciples by bringing those two, the one from heaven and the other from the earth. Therefore we beg of thy imperial power that we may hold a council to enquire into this man's doctrines. And we will pray for thee and for thy empire that thou mayest obtain salvation, O thou that lovest God!» When the prince had read this letter, he was moved by the power of the Lord, and, acting together with the patriarch, he summoned a council of the bishops to meet in the city of Ephesus. Accordingly, two hundred bishops assembled there from all the cities, each bishop taking with him two priests and a deacon from his diocese. They sent to Nestorius, demanding his presence; and they waited for him many days, but he did not appear; so they wrote to the emperor, informing him that Nestorius had not appeared but that they were waiting for him. And Nestorius requested the prince to send an official with him to protect him, saying : «The bishops are many, and I fear that they will kill me.» So the prince sent with Nestorius a patrician named Candidian, whose opinions agreed with those of Nestorius. When Candidian came to the council, he seized Cyril by night and imprisoned him in a place in which wheat was kept, together with his friends. And Cyril said to his friends : «What is this beneath |439 our feet?» They answered : «It is wheat.» «And he said : «Thanks be to God who has given us the victory; for they have put us into the house of life.» 

Now Candidian had done this in order to support Nestorius, and to intimidate Cyril and the bishops with him, who had come together on account of him, that they might be scattered. But Candidian's object was not attained, for the bishops had not met together without having devoted themselves to death, if it should be necessary, for the faith. So when Candidian was convinced of this, he released Cyril and his friends ; and as he was afraid lest the affair should reach the ears of the prince, who would cause him to be executed on account of it, he began to guard the roads, and prevented the reporters of news from writing to the prince any account of what had passed. Then the fathers continued for some time, in company with the bishop of Ephesus, assembling together and praying, while Nestorius remained separated from them, and would not join them. So they sent to him three bishops, requesting him to be present with them for prayer; but the soldiers under the orders of Candidian. would not allow these bishops to enter the house where Nestorius was. And as he thus held aloof from them, and the transactions lasted so long that the bishops were troubled at being so far from their dioceses, they were forced to expel that enemy of God from God's Church. Accordingly they brought the four gospels, and also brought the blasphemous writings of Nestorius; and a learned deacon, namely Peter, who was the scribe of Cyril, and knew the blasphemous passages in the compositions of Nestorius, read them out briefly before the holy council; and when they heard them, his misbelief was proved |440 to them. So the bishops anathematized Nestorius and excommunicated him, and subscribed their signatures to the letter of excommunication, which was sent to him; yet he would not receive it, nor give up his misbelief. Then the bishops desired to send a copy of their letter to the prince, but were not able to do so because of those whom Candidian, the patrician, had set to guard the road. So they consulted together; and at last one of them took the letter, and put it inside a stout cane, and disguised himself, and started off and travelled to Constantinople. There he gave the letter to Dalmatius and Eutyches, the two monks. And they presented it to the prince; and the prince handed it to an eunuch, who received it from him, and gave it to the scribe that he might read it before the prince. And when he read it, the contents proved to be as follows : 

«The Council assembled at Ephesus declares thus. We believe that Emmanuel is God Incarnate. But it is said that Nestorius does not share with us in this faith. Therefore he is a stranger to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, and a stranger to the tradition of the Apostles, and a stranger to the one Holy Church. Everyone who denies that Jesus is Emmanuel, that is to say, God Incarnate, is anathema. And everyone who denies that the Virgin Mary is the Mother of God the Word, truly Incarnate, is anathema. Jesus is the Creator, Jesus is the Conqueror, Jesus is the Saviour of all. To him belongs glory for ever. Amen.» |441 

And when this confession of faith was read to the prince, he and all that were in his palace cried out, saying : «Jesus is Emmanuel, God Incarnate.» Then Eutyches, the monk, said to the prince : «Let thy majesty subscribe to his excommunication, and write to the bishops, commanding them to appear before thee, to salute thee and bless thy empire.» And the prince did so. Therefore the assembly of bishops journeyed to Alexandria, and thence to Contantinople. And the prince received them graciously, and sat in a lower seat than they, and prostrated himself before them, and received their blessing. But he commanded that Nestorius should be sent into banishment. So Nestorius was exiled in company with a chamberlain who conducted him to Egypt. And the bishops sent a letter to him before he started, in which they said : «Confess that the Crucified is God Incarnate, and we will receive thee again and obtain the repeal of thy sentence of banishment.» But Nestorius hardened his heart like Pharao, and returned no answer to them. And when he said to the chamberlain : «Let us rest here, for I am tired,» the chamberlain replied : «Thy Lord also was weary when he walked until the sixth hour, and he is God. What sayest thou?» And Nestorius answered : «Two hundred bishops assembled to make me confess that Jesus is God Incarnate, but I would not do so. Shall I then say to thee that God suffered fatigue?» And the chamberlain conducted Nestorius on his journey until he brought him to Ikhmîm in Upper Egypt; and there he remained in banishment, anathematized and excommunicated, until he died. |442 

Now the holy Father Cyril wrote many epistles, among which was an epistle to Abba John, patriarch of Antioch, beginning thus : «Let the heavens rejoice, and the earth exult.» Cyril also wrote an epistle to Acacius, bishop of Malatia, beginning : «How sweet is an assembly of perfect brethren, who remind one another of spiritual doctrines.» And he addressed a letter to Valerian, bishop of Iconium, beginning : «The beloved brother and fellow-minister.» And he sent an epistle to the priests and deacons and monks and ascetes who remained firm in the orthodox faith after the excommunication and banishment of Nestorius; and an epistle to Eulogius, the Alexandrian priest who dwelt at Constantinople, beginning : «Men are wroth with us on account of the faith proclaimed by the bishops of the East.» And he wrote an epistle to Anastasius and Alexander and Martinian and John, and Paregorius, the priest, and Maximus, the deacon, beginning : «I greatly praise your love for learning.» And in every epistle Cyril makes mention of the orthodox faith, and exposes the errors of Nestorius and the corruption of his doctrine, pointing out that it is opposed to the faith of the holy fathers, and to that which is contained in the divine scriptures of the Old and New Testaments; and he proves this by genuine testimonies from the holy writings, in which the Holy Ghost speaks by the |443 tongues of the veracious prophets, the elect apostles, and the holy fathers and doctors of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Cyril also wrote letters to Nestorius, before his banishment, which are conceived in a spirit of benevolence, and in which Cyril exhorts Nestorius, and aims at conciliating and guiding him. Yet Nestorius would not listen to Cyril, nor return from his misbelief and hardness of heart and corrupt creed.



After the holy patriarch Cyril had departed to his rest, Dioscorus was made patriarch in the see of the city of Alexandria. He endured severe persecution for the orthodox faith at the hands of the prince Marcian and his wife; and they banished him from his see, through the partial action of the council of Chalcedon, and their subserviency to the will of the prince and his wife. It is for this reason that the members of that council and all the followers of their corrupt creed are called Melkites, because they follow |444 the opinion of the prince and his wife, in proclaiming and renewing the doctrine of Nestorius.

It was a custom of the ancients to write histories of their predecessors in every generation. In the time of the Israelites, Philo, the Pharian, and Justus and Josephus and Hegesippus wrote part of the life of Jesus Christ, and an account of the ruin of Jerusalem by Vespasian and Titus his son, and of what took place after them. And after that, Africanus and Eusebius wrote, and Mennas wrote of the trials and persecution endured by the pastors and their flocks in the days of the patriarch Abba Cyril the Wise, and what passed between him and Nestorius; also of what the Father Dioscorus after him suffered in the council of Chalcedon. But at that time the creeds were separated, and the sees were torn asunder, so that none was left to write histories of the patriarchs, and the practice of composing them was interrupted. But the Lord remains for ever. In this way no biography of the holy patriarch Dioscorus after his banishment has been found. He preserved the orthodox faith, which persists in the see of the evangelist Saint Mark to this day and for ever, until he received the crown of martyrdom in the island of Gangra, by the command of the prince Marcian; for it was in that island that Dioscorus died. |445 


And after the militant Father Dioscorus, the patriarch, went to his rest, the Lord Christ raised up a patriarch, named Timothy, upon the episcopal throne of the city of Alexandria; and he suffered from hardships, and from warfare with the dissidents. He and his brother Anatolius were banished to the island of Gangra, like Dioscorus, for seven full years, but he returned by the grace of God, at the command of the prince, to Alexandria. His ordination took place in the days of Leo, the prince. He remained patriarch twenty-two years, and went to his rest on the seventh day of Misri.


So when Timothy went to the Lord, Peter the priest was ordained by command of God in the church of Alexandria, and was made patriarch. But the empire of the Romans remained established upon the ever-renewed memory of the impure council of Chalcedon; for it was not built upon the |446 foundation of the firm Rock, which belongs to God the Word who is Jesus Christ. And, after the consecration of Peter, patriarch of Alexandria, Acacius, patriarch of Constantinople, wrote to him many epistles which he sent to him, and letters to ask him to receive him to himself; for he rejected the council of Chalcedon, the members of which he called heretics, and the blasphemous Tome of Leo; and he likewise rejected the doctrine of Nestorius. Therefore Peter wrote letters to Acacius in order that he might be assured that his doctrine was sound to the core. And when they came to him he accepted them with joy and gladness, and showed them to those that wished among the believers in the orthodox faith; and then he wrote a synodical epistle and sent it to the blessed Peter. But there were certain bishops who were not present at the time when the letters were written by the two patriarchs, Peter and Acacius; and Satan (may God confound him!) stirred up trouble in the hearts of those bishops; and James, bishop of Sâ, became their chief, with Mennas, bishop of Munyat Tâmah. And they went to the city of Alexandria, and said to the patriarch : «How couldst thou receive Acacius, when he is one of those who were present at the Chalcedonian council?» So he answered them quietly and calmly : «I received him only because he abandoned that doctrine.» And he informed them of the epistles of Acacius which had come to him, which bore witness of his return to the truth, and of his confession of the orthodox faith; and he reminded them that he had sent the bishops to Acacius, that they might hear his expressions, according to the canon of |447 the Church. But they would not accept his words because pride was established in their hearts; and they separated themselves from the throne of the evangelist, Saint Mark, the apostle, saying in their ignorance, as the children of Israel said, that they had no portion with David, nor inheritance with the son of Isai 18. And since they were divided from the holy patriarch Peter, and would not enter under his obedience, the orthodox called them Those that had no head 19. Now the epistles written between the two patriarchs aforesaid formed fifteen books.

This Peter, when he became patriarch over Alexandria, met with trouble from the heretics. For they banished him, and delivered up his see to a man called Timothy, who is also named Anthony or Theognostus, and belonged to Canopus. Then followed John the Tabennisiote, whom they appointed after the death of Anthony. Subsequently, the patriarch Peter returned to his see with great glory; and the period of time during which he sat upon the patriarchal throne was eight years; and he died, in peace and great honour, on the 2nd of Hatûr. All his epistles are preserved in the Monastery of Father Macarius; and among them is an epistle of Zeno, the blessed prince, with the answer to it, in which are jewels of language, and words of holiness, and the confession of the orthodox faith. |448 


When the holy Father Peter went to his rest, Athanasius was appointed. He had been priest in charge of the church of Alexandria; and now he was made patriarch over it. He was a good man, full of faith and the Holy Ghost; and he accomplished that with which he was entrusted; and in his days there was no disorder or persecution in the holy Church. He remained seven years, and went to his rest on the twentieth of Tût.


When Athanasius the Younger went to his rest, John the Monk was appointed, and made patriarch upon the evangelical throne; and he walked according to the lives of the excellent fathers who preceded him. The Church and the people and the inhabitants of the country-districts were in his days in security and peace through the grace of the Lord Christ. And he lived in the time of the holy Zeno, the blessed prince; and on |449 account of his faith and goodness the prince commanded in his clays that there should be carried to the monastery of Saint Macarius, in the Wadi Habib, all that the monks needed of wheat and wine and oil, and whatever they required for the furnishing of their cells. So Abba John, the patriarch, accomplished his ministry in security and tranquillity in the days of Zeno, the blessed and faithful prince, and went to his rest on the 4th of Bashans, after remaining eight years as patriarch, and was gathered to his fathers.


So when Abba John, the patriarch, went to his rest, there was appointed instead of him a man who was a hermit, called John; and this was by the command of God. This John was a kinsman of the departed patriarch. And he wrote in his days many books and homilies. And God shewed forth in his days a wonderful thing, and raised up royalty and priesthood together for the Church, in the persons of the prince Anastasius, the pious believer, and the patriarch Severus, the excellent, clothed with light, occupant of the see of Antioch, who became a horn of salvation to the orthodox Church, and who sat upon the throne of the great Ignatius. |450 

And Severus wrote a synodical letter to the Father John, the patriarch, concerning the unity of the fnith, wherein he announced the agreement between them in the one orthodox creed of the holy fathers. So John, the patriarch, and his bishops accepted this letter, and read it in their churches throughout the land of Egypt; and they offered prayers and thanked the Lord Christ, who had restored the divided members to their places. And with great joy and spiritual exultation did John, the holy patriarch, write to the great Severus an answer to his letter in canonical language, full of the orthodox faith, which is that of the doctors of the Church, as the blessed Severus had written to him. And when the envoys of Severus returned to him with this gift, which was a fitting reward for his friendship, he rejoiced and was glad exceedingly. John remained patriarch eleven years, and went to his rest on the twenty-seventh of Bashans.


And when the Father John, the patriarch, went to his rest, he had a scribe whose name was Dioscorus, and who was a man perfect in all his |451 relations, humble and good; and there was none like him in his time. So they ordained him patriarch upon the evangelical throne. Then he wrote a synodical letter to the Father Severus, in which he informed him of the death of the blessed Father John, and announced that he had taken his seat after him upon the apostolic throne. So Severus wrote an answer to him, to console him, and to confirm him in the orthodox faith, and to charge him to teach the people, and not to cease teaching, and to encourage him in this work. And Dioscorus remained patriarch three years; though in another history it is related that he continued one year and a half; and he went to his rest on the twenty-seventh of Babah, and was gathered to his fathers.


Then Timothy took his seat as patriarch on the throne of Alexandria. And Anastasius the believing prince died; and they raised up after him an evil man, a heretic, whose name was Justinian, that he might govern the empire. When Justinian took his seat upon the throne, he employed all his efforts to make the orthodox believers return to the faith of the Chalcedonian council; and the first thing that he began with was that he seized the holy |452 patriarch Severus. And Justinian assembled a council in the city of Constantinople, on his own initiative, at which were present Vigilius, patriarch of Rome, and Apollinaris, whom the prince had made patriarch over Alexandria, and Eutychius, patriarch of the city of Constantinople, and the bishops who were under their jurisdiction. Moreover Justinian sent to fetch the Father Severus, the patriarch, and the bishops of the East; for he thought that he could conciliate the mind of the holy Severus, and incline him to his doctrine, so that all the bishops might obey him, because they firmly believed in Severus and in his faith, and so they might acknowledge the prince's evil doctrine. But the great Severus paid no heed to the prince. And Severus, with his bishops, went to Constantinople that he might confirm the faith; for he thought that that unbelieving prince would be converted from his corrupt doctrine. So when the Father Severus arrived at Constantinople, then the prince at first honoured him greatly, and exalted his rank, and spoke good words to him, seeking from him that he should make concessions to him with regard to the Tome of Leo, by adopting his faith. But Severus, God's champion, had placed in his heart the words of Peter the Apostle 20 to Simon the Magician : «Let thy gifts perish with thee, for I see that thou art full of bitterness, even more than the serpent.» And Justinian the prince was like Nestorius; and one day he commanded that the bishops, falsely so called, should assemble for that council. But neither the Father Severus, the valiant one, nor any of |453 his bishops would be present with them, for he said : «If they will not first anathematize the Tome of Leo and the impure, contemptible council of Chalcedon, I will not consent with them to the doctrine of unbelief.» Then things were done by the prince which this book is too small to relate, lest the narrative should grow too long by recording them. So when the command of the prince reached Severus, and yet he did not meet the bishops in council nor go to join them, they brought trials upon him, and persecutions came upon him.

But after two years, at the request of the believing princess, Theodora, the prince left Severus alone, and gave him up to her; and so she sent him back to his see.

And in those days Timothy was at Alexandria. So when Severus, the patriarch, and his bishops, who were from the East, were driven away from Antioch, and came to Egypt, those bishops came to the city of Alexandria. And many nuns, who were virgins, were driven out of the monasteries. And the Father Severus, at the time of this trouble, was fleeing from city to city, secretly or openly, and from monastery to monastery. And he wrote to the bishops, his companions, who were at Alexandria, and consoled them, and encouraged them to have patience, and charged them to endure the persecutions with fortitude. And there was with them one who was no true bishop, whose name |454 was Julian. This man plainly showed that he was a partaker in the council of Chalcedon, because he divided the Lord Christ, who is One, into Two, arid made him into Two Natures after the Ineffable Union. And when he found an opportunity in the absence of the Father Severus, he wrote a Tomarion, with an evil purpose, addressed to certain sick and intoxicated people, in which he expresses his approval of the faith of Eutyches, the unbeliever, and Apollinaris and Manes and Eudoxius, the unbelievers; and he filled it also with the blasphemous creed of those who believe in the doctrine of the Phantasiasts, and deny the lifegiving Passion of Christ the Lord. And he sent this book ahout Egypt, and to the monks of the desert. And they received him, and fell into the snare, except seven persons, whose hearts God enlightened, and so they would not accept it; for they heard a voice saying : «This is the impure Tomarion.» Then those who had fallen into the error of Julian rose up against them, and killed two of them. So the rest were scattered, and began to celebrate the liturgy in their cells in the Monastery of Saint Macarius and in other monasteries. And this was the cause of their separation, and of the prevalence of error in the four monasteries and in the hermitages. Then by the power and grace of the Holy Ghost, assistance came to the five monks who remained of the seven, and so they prevented the other monks from accepting the Tomarion. But the source of this error, Julian, did not cease to send his writings into the country to lead men astray and draw them to himself. |455 

So when the Father Severus learnt this, by the power of the Holy Ghost which dwelt in him, he wrote to every place, in order that a true account of the facts might be disseminated, and that Julian's true meaning might be made known. For he informed men in his letters that Julian was an evil serpent, filled with blasphemy. And Severus bestowed his care on those that were afflicted with this plague, that he might heal them, and encouraged those that did not follow the Tomarion, from which there arose trouble and antagonism.

And meanwhile the Father Timothy, the blessed patriarch, went to his rest, being established in the orthodox faith. For he fought on its behalf, like the Father Severus, and refuted Julian and all his doctrine. The period during which Timothy remained patriarch on the throne of Alexandria was seventeen years; and he died on the 13th of Amshir.


By the command of God, the bishops and orthodox people assembled after the death of Timothy, and, by the dispensation of the Lord Christ, they ordained the holy Father Theodosius patriarch. He was a virgin, and a |456 master of the literary style used in ecclesiastical writings. But, after a short time, the hater of good raised up a trial for him, and stirred up trouble among evil people of the inhabitants of the city, the masters of vile arts. For there was a man who was old and advanced in age, and whose name was Gaianus; and he was archdeacon of the church of Alexandria; and he was standing, at the time of the ordination of the Father Theodosius as patriarch, among the bishops and priests and chief men of the city, until they had ordained him, and written his diploma of consecration, and promoted him to the degree of primate over the apostolic diocese, and ratified his appointment with the consent of all Christian and God-loving people. But after that, certain persons led the archdeacon astray, and changed his thoughts, in his simplicity, and gave him counsel, saying : «This degree and this promotion are thy due, and it is not lawful for anyone to be promoted before thee.» Thus they insinuated their evil suggestions into his mind little by little, until he accepted their advice. So they took him, and went with him to the house of a priest, named Theodore, who was an evil-doer and had much wealth; and there they ordained Gaianus, the archdeacon, as patriarch. And there was with them, assisting them, Julian, the corrupt of faith, in agreement with Theodore the priest; for Theodosius the blessed, when he became patriarch, had anathematized Julian, because |457 he was the refuge of the heretics. Then Gaianus went to the governor, and to the commander of the forces, and offered them bribes, and won their hearts by his many gifts, until they were induced to stir up great trouble against the Father Theodosius, the patriarch, and against the Church, and drove out the holy Theodosius from the see of Alexandria to Hierasycaminus, where he remained six months. And the governor hid from the prince what they had done to the patriarch, and also that they had ordained another in his place, and all that was done by Julian and Theodore and Gaianus, who joined together against him. But the wise Severus, the patriarch, used to call Theodosius brother and helper and partner in the one true evangelical work, and used to console and encourage him in his sufferings for the orthodox faith, comparing him to the great Paul the Apostle, when he was first chosen and first believed in Christ, and reminding Theodosius how Paul's family and friends rejected him, and how the believers let him down from the wall in a basket, so that he could flee from Damascus. For the Father Theodosius suffered continual trouble and persecution from the heretics. And this was in the year 242 of Diocletian. Now Severus, the patriarch, was hiding himself from Justinian, the heretical prince, in a Christ-loving town, called Sakhâ, in Egypt, at the house of a man, named Dorotheus, who took care of the affairs of the aged monks who had rejected the error of Julian the unbeliever. And the said |458 man was allowed to visit the governor of Egypt, Aristomachus, and begged him to take pity on the aged among the monks who were in the desert, by granting them the favour of authorizing them to build churches and towers, instead of those that had been taken from them by Julian and his companions, that so he might give rest to the monks. Accordingly the governor gave orders to Dorotheus to do as he wished; and Dorotheus returned thanks to God most high.

Severus, the patriarch, had composed books in which he refuted the heresy of those that believe in the Two Natures, and brought to naught most of those that hold this view, by the glory of God, and through the instructions that he gave with his tongue, which was a spiritual sword. And he continued to teach concerning the books of divine wisdom, until he grew old, and the days of his removal from trouble to rest grew near. For he remained in the midst of struggles, and enduring persecution from the heretics for thirty years, upon the throne of Antioch, and amid opposition and distress for six years; and he did not cease from this life of fighting for the orthodox faith until death. So when he had accomplished his course, still preserving the true faith, he went to the Lord Christ whom he loved, and received the crown of victory with the holy fathers in the assembly of the heavenly virgins.

And as for the blessed Father Theodosius, he was greatly troubled by the heretic Gaianus and his followers. But John, the governor of |459 Alexandria, and others were struggling to save him from them: and so they consulted with the fathers, and took Theodosms secretly, and put him on board of a boat on the river, and conveyed him to a town called Malij, within the province of Egypt, and there he remained two years.

And the laity of Alexandria, and the clergy and officials of the city, were troubled because their patriach was taken away from them, and said to the governor : «Why hast thou removed the good shepherd Theodosius from us?» Then the governor was afraid of them, and dreaded lest the affair should be reported to the prince; and so he sent Gaianus, the heretic, out of the city. After that, one of the officials went to carry out some business which he had with the prince, and so he made known to the faithful princess Theodora that the blessed Theodosius had been banished from the city of Alexandria, whence she herself had originally come. So she went in to the prince calmly and wisely and humbly, and informed him of all that had happened, without his sanction, to the Father Theodosius, patriarch in the city of Alexandria. Then, when the prince heard that, he rejoiced in his heart at the trouble and conflict which the orthodox had endured, because they would not consent to share the corrupt and impure faith of Chalcedon, which he held. But afterwards, wishing to please the |460 princess, and to delight her heart, he gave her power to do by his authority in this matter whatever she desired. So she sent to the city of Alexandria, to enquire into the matter, and to restore the Father Theodosius, the patriarch, to his see; and she bade the messengers inform her how his appointment as patriarch took place at his ordination, and whether it was accomplished according to the canon of the Church. So when her messengers came to the city, according to what she commanded them to do, they enquired into what she bade them enquire into, and examined the circumstances of his ordination, and sought to discover whether it was accomplished according to the canon of the Church; and they also enquired how Gaianus, the archdeacon, had been appointed, and which of them was the first to be consecrated. Therefore the governor, and the commander of the forces, in return for the gifts and bribes which they had received, suborned certain persons who cried aloud saying : «Gaianus was the first to be ordained.» Their words, however, were not confirmed; for one hundred and twenty men, of the priests and officials of the city, subscribed their signatures to a statement that it was Theodosius who was the first to be ordained.

Then they assembled together, and the help of the Lord Christ was with them, and the officers and military chiefs of the prince, who were his envoys and trusted counsellors, were present, and all the Alexandrians were assembled with them in the holy church. And they brought the holy |461 gospels and the prince's decree to which his seal and image were attached, and they introduced the Father Theodosius, the blessed patriarch, and the body of bishops who had been present at his consecration; and they separated them, and questioned them one by one, and wrote down what they said. And their confession proved true, in each case, for they all stated, without hesitation or discrepancy, that it was Theodosius, the blessed, who was ordained first, with the consent of the bishops and people, according to the canon of the Church; and that two months after that they heard that Gaianus had been made patriarch. Then Gaianus came forward before the assembly, and confessed to them that the statement was true, and asked pardon for what he had done. And the assembly begged of the blessed Father Theodosius to receive Gaianus, and prayed him to accept his repentance, on condition that he would write in his own handwriting that he had done this in contradiction to the ecclesiastical canon, and that he would remain in his office of deacon, becoming archdeacon again, as he had been before, and would humble himself and submit to the Father Theodosius, and obey him till the time of his death; and Gaianus consented to do all this. And they all set their seals to this statement as being true and veracious; and the whole assembly rejoiced, and glorified God, and thanked him because their good shepherd Theodosius, the patriarch, had returned to them, and had taken his seat upon his throne, to rule the Church and the people in peace. |462 

And as for Julian and Theodore and Manes and all those that dissented, and their followers, the name of heretic was established as their due, for they did not repent; but Gaianus submitted to the obedience of Theodosius, the patriarch.

So when the affairs of the Church and the faithful Christian people were well established, the Father Theodosius rejoiced, and wrote letters in which he thanked the prince and princess; and these letters he sent by their messengers, namely Aristaenetus and Nicetas and Philodorus, whom he thanked for what they had done. And when the envoys arrived, and delivered the letters to the prince, and made known to him all that had happened, his thoughts were despondent and troubled. For he thought : «Behold, I have given up the throne of Alexandria to Theodosius; and yet, even if I bestowed upon him in addition all the provinces of Egypt and Africa and all other countries, he would never agree with me in the creed which I prefer, so that the whole Church might be of one faith.»

Then the prince Justinian, after that, took thought, and wrote to the governor and officials of Alexandria, and to the Father Theodosius, with the view of attracting him by the hope of reward, praying him to receive the Tome of Leo, and yield to him on that point, and promising in that case that he should have the two offices, both the civil patriarchate, and the civil governorship, and that all the bishops of Africa should be under |463 his obedience, and that he should have the command over all that territory; «but» added the prince, «if he will not obey nor consent, then let him be driven out of the Church, and depart whithersoever he will; for he that does not agree with me in my faith shall have no prelacy either over people or Church».

But when the blessed father and patriarch Theodosius, the confessor of Christ, heard the letter and proposals of the prince, he exclaimed in the presence of the assembly, and of the governor and envoys : «The holy gospel says 21 that the Devil took the Lord and Saviour, and led him to the summit of a high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of it, and said to him : All this is mine, and if thou wilt worship me I will give it to thee. So likewise what you promise me will be the destruction of my soul, if I do as you propose, and I shall become thereby a stranger to Christ, the true king». And he raised his hands before the envoy sent by the prince, and before the governor and that great assembly, and said : «In truth I anathematize the Tome of Leo and the council of Chalcedon; and whoever acknowledges them is anathema henceforth for ever. Amen.» Then he said to the governor and to all the prince's troop : «The prince has no power except over my body; but the Lord Jesus Christ, the true and great prince, has power over my soul and body together. And now behold the churches are before you |464 with all that they contain, therefore do whatever you wish with regard to them. But as for me, I follow my fathers who have preceded me, the doctors of the apostolic Church, Athanasius and Cyril and Dioscorus and Timothy, and those who were before them, whose deputy I am, although unworthy.» Then Theodosius arose and went out, saying : «Let those that love God follow me. For I came forth from my mother's womb naked, and I shall return to it naked. And he that loses his life at this time for the Faith, shall save it.»

So they took him to the palace, where they guarded him for a day and a night; but when the morrow came, they sent him away, as the prince had commanded in his letter, saying : «Let him go whithersoever he pleases.» Therefore he went out from the city, and the power of the Lord Christ guided him; for Aristomachus provided for his needs, and prepared for him all that he required, and carried him in a boat to Upper Egypt, where he remained teaching the people and the monks in the monasteries, and confirming them in the orthodox faith, and encouraging them to, endure the conflict until death.

And the prince's envoy returned to him, and made known to him all that had happened, and how Theodosius, the patriarch, had gone forth from the city, and would not accept any of the offers made by the prince. When the prince heard that, he and all his attendants were astonished that the patriarch had rejected that post of governor, and had disputed the royal command, and remained firm in the faith. Then Justinian |465 thought within himself and said : «If I leave him where he is, then all the people will follow his faith, and he will not allow them to accept the Tome of Leo.» So he wrote a letter full of assurances and promises to the patriarch Theodosius, declaring that no pain nor damage should come to him from him, but all good and kindness; and he sent this letter by a scribe, to whom he said : «Treat him courteously until thou bringest him to me, and say to him : The prince desires to confer with thee.» So when the blessed patriarch had perused the prince's letter, he prayed for the help of the power of the Lord Christ, and took with him of the clergy certain wise men, learned and excellent; and they embarked in a ship, and journeyed until they arrived at Constantinople. There Theodosius entered to the prince and princess, who, when they saw his serenity and humility and excellence, received him kindly, and lodged him in chambers which they had prepared for him and his companions. Afterwards the prince sent for him a second time, and a third time, until the sixth time, and each time he addressed him courteously, and desired of him that he should yield to him in confirming the council of Chalcedon, and gave him many marks of honour and priority and precedence. But Theodosius said : «Neither life nor death nor dearth nor nakedness nor sword will turn my heart from the faith of my fathers; nor will I abandon a jot or tittle of what my fathers, the inspired doctors, wrote before me, those shepherds of the reasonable flock of Christ, from Mark the evangelist |466 to the day on which I was made a deacon by the Father Timothy, after whom I became patriarch by the dispensation of God.»

So when the prince could not draw Theodosius to his doctrine, he left him and sent him into banishment in disgrace. But he showed favour to the clergy of Alexandria, and caused Mennas, patriarch of Constantinople, to ordain for them a man, named Paul of Tinnis, that he might be patriarch on the throne of Alexandria, and sent him, accompanied by a troop of soldiers, to the city of Alexandria. But when Paul arrived there, not one of the inhabitants would receive him; for they said : «This is the new Judas!» And he remained a year, during which none would listen to him, nor would any communicate from his hand, except the envoy who accompanied him, and the soldiers who arrived with him, and the governor and his attendants only. And the people of the city used to insult Paul, saying : «This is Judas the betrayer!» So he wrote to the prince to make known to him what had happened to him, and how they fled from him as sheep flee from a wolf; and he sent the letter by a patrician. Then the prince was enraged, and sent a letter by another patrician, in which he commanded that the doors of the churches in the city of Alexandria should be shut and sealed with his seal, and guards set before them, so that no one at all might enter. When that sinful letter arrived in the city, there was great sadness on account of it, and anguish and unbounded sorrow that cannot |467 be described, upon the orthodox people. And they remained in this condition for a whole year, without communion, or church to pray in, or place to be baptized in. But the letters of their blessed Father Theodosius came to them from his place of exile, reminding them of the faith, and consoling them, and encouraging them to patience. So when their trouble increased, an assembly of the orthodox met together, priests and laymen, and took counsel together as to building a church in which they might take refuge, so that they might not be like the Jews. And they did what they proposed, and built a church by the power of Christ, in the western part of Alexandria, in the place called the Pillars, or the Serapeum; and this church is the Angelion, which they built secretly at the hundred and five steps. And another congregation of the people also built another church, in the name of Cosmas and Damian, to the east of the amphitheatre, and a little to the west of the colonnade; and they finished it in the year 278 of Diocletian. When the prince learnt this, he sent and opened all the churches, and put them under the authority of the Chalcedonians. So when the blessed Father Theodosius learnt that there remained to him no other than these two newly-built churches, the church of the Angelion, and the church of Cosmas and Damian the Martyrs, he sighed and wept, because he knew the people of Alexandria, and that they loved pomp and honour, and he feared that they would depart from the orthodox Faith, with a view to gaining honour from the prince. And he used to pray, saying : «O my Lord Jesus Christ, thou |468 didst buy this people with thy precious blood, and thou providest for them; therefore remove not thy hand from them; but thy will be done!» And Theodosius remained twenty-eight years in banishment and otherwise, and in Upper Egypt four years, preserving the orthodox faith. And he composed of homilies and doctrinal treatises during his patriarchate, which lasted for thirty-two years, too many to be counted.

Theodosius was removed, in the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ whom he loved, on the 28th day of Baunah; and he received the crown of victory with the assembly of the saints in the land of the living for ever.

And let us, the believers who remain in the orthodox faith, and are counted worthy to be called Theodosians after his name, supplicate and implore God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, that we may have spiritual thoughts, and encouragement, while we keep the right faith without wearying, as it was kept by this holy father and prelate, who confessed before heretics, kings and princes and authorities who lived at that evil time, and that our life before him may be without offence, and that we may not turn aside from his will, and that we may have a full share together with him in the kingdom of heaven, by the grace and mercy and compassion of our God, the Lover of Mankind, Jesus Christ our Lord and |469 Saviour, to whom is due glory with the Father and the Holy Ghost, the Giver of Life, now and always, and for ever and ever. Amen.



When the patriarch Theodosius was banished by Justinian, the prince, there was set up instead of him, though he was still alive, Paul of Tinnis, who was appointed at Constantinople. So this custom began for the patriarchs of the Melkites, that they should be ordained at Constantinople, and then proceed to Alexandria. And after a short time the Lord destroyed Paul of Tinnis by an evil death; and they appointed in his stead Apollinaris, who also took possession of the church, by the prince's authority; and he ordered that none of the believing bishops should be seen in the city of Alexandria. At that time there was union between the Church of Antioch and the Church of Alexandria in the orthodox faith and in Christian love; for Theodosius confessed before the prince, both he and those who were with him, that he was in union with the Father Severus, patriarch of Antioch, |470 and said : «I accept all that was said by Saint John the Golden Mouth, and by the wise Cyril.»

And when Theodosius went to his rest, Apollinaris, the hypocrite, rejoiced greatly, and made a great feast for the clergy and people of the city; for he thought that they would conform to his creed, because not one of the fathers and bishops was able to show himself, neither in Alexandria nor in Antioch, on account of what the heretical prince had commanded. But, by the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, Alexandria was governed by an excellent and philanthropic man, who had thrown in his lot with the orthodox; and therefore he commanded that they should ordain a patriarch for themselves secretly, in succession to the Father Theodosius. And he said to them : «Go out to the Monastery of Az-Zajaj, as if you wished to pray there, and appoint over yourselves him, whom you shall elect, as patriarch.» So they thanked God, and glorified the Lord Christ, and sent to the northern cities of the land of Egypt, and summoned three bishops, and went out with them to the Monastery of Az-Zajaj, where they ordained a man, who was a priest, named Peter, as patriarch. And the people received consolation through him, and their faith was strengthened; but they could not bring him into the city openly, through fear of the prince, and of Apollinaris, the patriarch of the heretics. So his residence was outside Alexandria, at a |471 distance of nine miles, at the church dedicated to the name of Joseph; and they used to carry to him all that he needed; but the prince knew nothing of him.

And after this the thing became known, that Peter had become patriarch instead of Theodosius the deceased; and when Apollinaris learnt this, he was exceedingly angry, and wrote to the prince to inform him of what had happened. But before his letter reached Justinian, the prince, at Constantinople, the Angel of the Lord smote him and he died; and his death was evil like the death of Herod.

And as for Peter, he was well formed and of beautiful countenance, adorned with every noble deed, loving those in whom was the knowledge of God. For this reason he sought a man excellent and learned in the holy canons, that he might be his scribe. So they pointed out to him a monk who was a deacon, and whose name was Damian, in the Monastery of Tôn Paterôn, and this man was a skilful writer; and the Father Peter, the patriarch, went to the monastery, and talked with Damian, and asked him to help him and labour with him in the works of the Church. And the patriarch begged him and persuaded him to remain with him in the monastery as if he were a bishop, since he could not reveal that he was patriarch, and was not able to enter into the city of Alexandria openly. And the deacon and monk, |472 Damian, consented to do this, and obeyed the patriarch in what he bade him accomplish.

And there were in that place six hundred flourishing monasteries, like beehives in their populousness, all inhabited by the orthodox, who were all monks and nuns, besides thirty-two farms called Sakatinâ, where all the people held the true faith. And the father and patriarch, Peter, was the administrator of the affairs of all of them.

When the orthodox people of Antioch heard of what the inhabitants of Alexandria had done, they also took a man whose name was Theophanes, and made him patriarch in succession to the blessed Father Severus, and seated him on the throne in a monastery called the Monastery of Aphtonius; because the heretics forbad the orthodox bishops to enter, any one of them, into the city of Antioch, as was done also at Alexandria. So the two patriarchs were in similar circumstances, living in two monasteries outside their respective cities.

Then Peter, patriarch of the city of Alexandria, fell sick and went to his rest, after finishing his course and his ministry which was pleasing to God. The period of time during which he remained patriarch was two years; and his death took place on the 25th of Baunah. May his prayers be with us! Amen. |473 


When the holy Father Peter went to his rest, they enthroned in his place his scribe Damian, the deacon and monk, who was strong in deed and word and in the grace of the Lord which descended upon him. For he had been a monk from his youth in the wilderness of Wadi Habib, and was brought up by saints in the Monastery of Saint John, where he remained sixteen years, serving God according to the service of the holy ascetes, before he came to Pihenaton, to the Monastery of Tôn Paterôn, otherwise called Monastery of the Fathers. This was at the time of the rebuilding of the four monasteries in Wadi Habib, which were growing up like the plants of the field in security and guidance from God; and to their inhabitants was brought all that they needed, and they worked industriously at the building.

But there were among them the Meletians, I mean the followers of Meletius, who used to receive the Chalice many times in the night, before they came to the church. For this reason, when the Father Damian, the patriarch, was counted worthy to sit upon the evangelical throne, he wrote to the holy mountain, and commanded that the Meletians should be banished from it. And after a short time, a voice came from heaven upon that desert, saying : «Flee! Flee! » And when the inhabitants of the four |474 monasteries had left them, they were laid waste. When news of this reached the patriarch Damian, he was exceedingly sad. Now this holy father, the patriarch, was living in seclusion, in the Monastery of Tôn Paterôn, as we said at the beginning, in the condition of a suffragan bishop. And, by the wisdom of God which was given to him, he wrote the Logos, which is a discourse of wisdom. And he also wrote the Mystagogiae, besides the Festal Letters and the Catecheses. And the followers of the impure heresy came to him, and disputed about the Faith; but by the grace of the Lord which was with him he resolved their arguments, sweeping them away like a spider 's web; and he spoke courteously to them, and taught them to understand the mysteries of Christian doctrine, and made them like Achab before our Father Elias, the prophet.

In the eighth year of Damian's patriarchate, a satanic thought fell into the hearts of the Acephali who were living in the east of Egypt. For there were four priests remaining over from that impure council, and they said : «What shall we do? We are perishing, and no bishop is left to us. Come therefore, let us make one of ourselves bishop, lest the remembrance of us perish from the face of the earth.» Then they chose the oldest among them, whose name was Barsanuphi, and the three priests took him and |475 made him bishop, and his heretical doctrine was named after his name.

When the people of the west of Egypt heard of this, they were exceedingly angry because they had done this without consulting them; so they separated from them, and would not join them. For this reason they had none to baptize them or give them communion or pray with them. So the others ordained a bishop for them. Now the prince at that time was Maurice, who loved money exceedingly, and rejected the orthodox.

When the Father Theophanes, the patriarch, went to his rest and departed to the Lord, the people of Antioch took one of the priests of the church, whose name was Peter, and made him patriarch. And he was coarse-minded, and sinful in his thoughts, and disturbed in his intellect, and opposed to the right faith, as that wise man in the Lord, Cyril, the holy patriarch, said with regard to the followers of Anatolius : «They are dark in their thoughts».

On account of the union between the two sees, Peter wrote a synodical epistle to the Father Damian, the patriarch, according to the usual custom. So when the synodical letter came to Damian, he rejoiced at it, and assembled the bishops. But when he examined Peter's doctrine declared in it, he found in it an error in the confession of the Holy Trinity. Therefore he sought in his wisdom and gentleness to draw the said Peter to himself by kindness, that the Church might not be divided, nor the union between the two sees be |476 broken. So he wrote to him a homily in which he reminded him of all the heretics, and of the doctrine laid down by Severus, the patriarch, with the object of making him understand the faith, in order to guide his intelligence. For Peter said in his strange philosophy : «There is no necessity to name the Trinity». Yet all the Doctors of the Church, and Cyril the Wise, and those that came after him, till the days of Damian, in their writings confess the holy Trinity, declaring that it is Three Persons and One Nature and One Godhead, creating and containing nothing created; and that it is divided in Persons, and truly united in substance and in name. They declare that God is the Creator of the two great luminaries; for the sun is made to rule the day, and the moon, as the lesser luminary, to rule the night; and that the act of creation took place before the name was given; and that God said : «Let the waters be gathered together, and let the dry land appear» ; and God called the place of the gathering of the waters the seas, and called the dry part land; and that the act preceded the naming. «So likewise must thou understand this», adds Damian, «that the nature of the Creator is the one single nature which does all things. For who knows the thoughts of the Lord, and who can point them out; and who can give to him that he may seek from him a reward? For all things are from him. And glory be to the Holy Trinity, the consubstantial, the all-perfect, who accepts no new thing |477 and no new names at all; but his names are sure, and his deeds together with them».

This discourse the Father Damian, the patriarch, wrote to Peter, patriarch of Antioch. But Peter, patriarch of Antioch, was like the deaf asp 22 which stops its ears and will not listen to the voice of the charmer nor to the medicine which a wise man prepares; nay he remained obstinate in his erroneous ideas, confessing and saying with his tongue which deserved to be cut out : «What is the need of naming the Trinity?» Thus he divided the Undivided Trinity. So there was a conflict between the Egyptians and the Orientals on this account; and they remained thus for twenty years disputing without coming to an agreement, until God had mercy on his people of whom he has care at all times, and broke off the life of the heretic, and removed him from the world.

And Damian, the blessed patriarch, remained all his days composing letters and homilies and treatises, in which he refuted the heretics. And there were in his days certain bishops whom he admired, marvelling at their purity and excellence; and among them was John of Burlus, and John his disciple, and Constantine the bishop, and Cleistus, and many others who tended the vineyard of the Lord of Sabaoth. And the patriarch Damian did not cease to teach all the davs of his life. And through the multitude |478 of his fasts and prayers and conflicts, when his course was finished, he fell ill, and went to his rest in the peace of the Lord, after remaining patriarch thirty-six years, preserving the true faith in a good old age. And he departed to the Lord Christ whom he loved on the 28th day of Baunah.


And the Lord Christ considered his people, for he is the chief and leader of shepherds, and raised up a wise man adorned with virtues, whose name was Anastasius, an inhabitant of Alexandria and one of the priests of the, church there, learned in the scriptures and in the doctrines of the faith. So he was placed by the ineffable decrees of God upon the apostolic throne, and began to appoint the bishops and the priests according to the canon of the Church. Anastasius was brave of heart, and went to the city at all times, and entered therein, and ordained the priests there; for, as we have mentioned above, the orthodox bishops were forbidden to enter Alexandria; and he drew many of the people to himself by his wisdom, for he was a learned man, known through his appointment to the city-council. He had been presiding priest in the two churches that we have mentioned, |479 namely the Angelion and the church of Cosmas and Damian, and over the convents of virgins, and most of the monasteries.

Then Anastasius began to build church after church. And he took the church which is on a mound of ruins, and a church named after Michael. He had great trouble from the party of Tiberius and Belisarius, upon whom the name of Gaianus had come, and from the followers of the impure Chalcedonian council, and from another man who was called Eulogius. This man was exceedingly indignant against the Father Anastasius, and desired to bring upon him all evils and torments; but God did not deliver him into his hands.

In those days there arose a man from the palace, one of the chief officers, whose name was Phocas, and killed the prince, and sat in his place, and did wicked deeds; and he loved carnal pleasure, and corrupted all the daughters of the patricians; and he loved discord without fear. Therefore when Eulogius knew of this, and heard the report of these things, he wrote to the prince a calumnious letter, concerning the Father Anastasius, full of lies and folly. For he said that, when Anastasius preached in the church of John the Baptist, he anathematized him and the victorious princes and the Chalcedonian council, adding : «And I marvelled that the springs and |480 the waters were not dried up». This Eulogius wrote to the prince that he might stir up trials for the orthodox. So when Phocas, who had taken possession of the empire, heard this, he was troubled, and wrote to the governor in Alexandria, that he should take from the patriarch Anastasius the church of Cosmas and Damian and all its dependencies, and all that belonged to it, and give it to Eulogius, the misguided. Accordingly they seized that church; and the Father Anastasius, the blessed, was sad, and returned to the monastery with great grief and much sighing. And he desired that God might reunite the members of the Church which Satan had divided; I refer to the division of Antioch from Alexandria, the cause of which was Peter, patriarch of Antioch; and God heard his prayers; for Peter the aforesaid died, and there sat instead of him, upon the throne of Severus at Antioch, a man who was a monk and priest and scholar, named Athanasius, exceedingly wise, and pure in heart. And it was he who delivered a homily in which he spoke of the holy Severus; and everyone that read it knew that the Lord Christ was with him, and his wisdom was within him.

So when the Father Anastasius heard that Athanasius had taken his seat as patriarch upon the throne of Antioch, he hastened to write to him a synodical letter full of wisdom, in which he styled him his colleague and one who was brother and friend, and one turning his attention to the faith, and to the rectification of that which had been corrupted by Peter, the misguided one who was now dead. «For the whole of the spiritual Israel |481 is one flock», wrote Anastasius, «and thou shalt unite it, that thou mayest receive the crown of testimony and unity».

Now Athanasius was good fruitful ground, and therefore he received the spiritual seed with joy, and took the synodical letter which had come to him, and assembled the bishops under his see, and said to them : «Know that the world to-day rejoices in peace and love, because the Chalcedonian darkness has passed away, and there has remained this one light-giving and fruit-bearing branch of the true vine, which is the see of Mark the evangelist, and the province of Egypt. For we have been heretics and schismatics since the patriarch Severus, who was to us a guide and a way of salvation. And you know that Peter the apostle and Mark the evangelist had one gospel which they preached; and so also Severus and Theodo-sius had one faith, and lived in unity, and endured exile and conflicts to the end».

So, when the fathers and bishops heard his discourse, they rejoiced greatly and agreed to accept the synodical letter, and declared that the two churches should be one, and that the two patriarchs should be of one spirit, and a lamp illuminating the orthodox.

So the blessed Athanasius arose, and took with him five bishops, excellent and learned, and journeyed in a ship to Alexandria. But when they arrived, they were informed that the Father Anastasius was in the monasteries; and therefore they went out to him. Then, when he heard that the patriarch of |482 Antioch had come to him, he assembled the bishops and priests and monks, and arose in great humility, and went out on foot, until he met him, with chants and hymns and joy and gladness. And they entered together into the monastery which is on the sea-shore, to the north-east of the monasteries, and there they sat in peace and joy.

And the Father Anastasius sent at once and summoned all the clergy of Alexandria, that they might be present at the meeting of the fathers, and might celebrate the liturgy with them, and communicate of the Holy Mysteries. And Athanasius pronounced at that assembly a wonderful discourse, full of wisdom, so that everyone who was present marvelled; and at the end he said : «At this hour, O my friends, we must take the harp of David, and sing with the voice of the psalm 23, saying : Mercy and truth have met together; Athanasius and Anastasius have kissed one another. The truth has appeared from the land of Egypt, and righteousness has arisen from the East. Egypt and Syria have become one in doctrine; Alexandria and Antioch have become one Church, one virgin-bride of one pure and chaste bridegroom, who is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son, the Word of the Father».

And the Father Athanasius remained with the Father Anastasius for one month, while they meditated together upon the holy scriptures and profitable |483 doctrines, speaking of these matters and discussing them. Then Athanasius returned to his province in peace and great honour; and from that day there has been agreement between the see of Antioch and the see of Alexandria to this day.

And the Father Anastasius provided for the affairs of the Church with assiduity, and for spiritual learning, for the Lord granted him tranquillity. And from the first year that he sat upon the throne, he began from the first of the letters of the alphabet, and made each successive letter the first letter of that which he wrote every year in a book, whether mystagogia, or synodical epistle, or systatic epistle, or festal epistle, or homily. And he remained upon the throne, holding the orthodox faith, for twelve years, during which he wrote twelve books.

And during the forty days of the Fast before Christmas, the Lord Christ, who longs for those that believe in him, and who does wonders among his saints, looked upon him, and was pleased to translate him to the land of those that live for ever. So he went to his rest on the 22nd day of Kihak, in the year 330 of Diocletian, the slayer of the Righteous Martyrs. May their intercessions be with us ! Amen! |484 


When Anastasius went to his rest, they seated upon the throne a learned man, a deacon of the church of the Angelion, a virgin and a scribe, whose name was Andronicus. He was very rich, much inclined to almsgiving, a leader of the people, loving mercy, and incessant in giving; and his family were leading people of the city, inasmuch as his cousin had been appointed head of the council of Alexandria. Therefore on account of the power of his authority and his eminence the heretics could not drive him out of Alexandria to the monasteries, as had been done before him; but he resided in his cell at the church of the Angelion, all his days.

Now there had arisen in Persia a king named Chosroes, who assembled a great host, and came with mighty power against the army of the Romans, and destroyed them utterly, and annihilated them. He took possession of the land of the Romans, and the land of Syria, and took captive the land of Palestine and Idumaea, and the land of Egypt, and trod them down as the oxen tread the threshing-floor, and collected their wealth and all that they had into his treasuries. And, on account of his love of money, he would kill a man for one denarius, or for something worth three denarii; for he had many subjects, and he knew not God, but worshipped the sun. |485 

So when he took Egypt, and gained power, he made it his care to conquer the great city of Alexandria. And there were at Henaton near that city six hundred flourishing monasteries, like dovecotes; and the monks were independent, and insolent without fear, through their great wealth; and they did deeds of mockery. But the army of the Persians surrounded them on the west of the monasteries, and no place of refuge remained for them; and so they were all slain with the sword, except a few of them, who hid themselves, and so were safe. And all that was there of money and furniture was taken as plunder by the Persians; and they wrecked the monasteries, which have remained in ruins to this day.

And when the news arrived at Alexandria, the inhabitants opened the gates of the city. And the Persian governor, the leader of the war and lieutenant of king Chosroes, saw in his dream at night a personage who said to him : «I have delivered up to thee this city and its buildings and all that it contains. Therefore take heed that thou injure not the city, but let not its inhabitants be left within it; for they are hypocrites in religion». Now the Persians call their leader in their own language Salar, which means «commander» ; and it was this Salar who built at Alexandria the palace which is called Tarâwus, the interpretation of the name being «House of the Ring», and it is now named Castle of the Persians. So when he received authority over the people of Alexandria, he did in his cunning as follows. He commanded all the young men in the city, from the age of eighteen to |486 fifty, to go out and receive twenty denarii each. So all the young men of the city assembled, and their names were written down; while they thought that they would receive the gift which he had promised them. And when he knew that all of them had come out, and that not one of them was left within the city, he commanded his troops to surround them, and slay them all with the sword. And the number of those that were thus slaughtered was eighty thousand men.

And when the Salar had done this, he marched away to Upper Egypt. And there were in the city of Niciu, which is also called Ibshadi, certain persons who gave him information concerning the monks who lived on the mountains and in the caves, the number of whom was seven hundred, and told him how they were enclosed within a fortified wall, and that their deeds were reprehensible, on account of the greatness of their wealth. So when the Salar heard this report of them, he sent his troops and surrounded them. And when the sun rose, they entered and slew all of them with the sword, and not one of them remained.

And this Salar was the cause of many troubles, because he knew not God. But the time is too short to recount his deeds.

So when the patriarch Andronicus had accomplished six years in his patriarchal office, and had suffered from this nation of the Persians, and seen all these disasters, which he encountered and patiently endured, he went to his rest, and departed to the Lord in perfect peace, holding fast to the right faith, the faith of his fathers, on the 8th. of Tubah. |487 


One year before the Father Andronicus died, there was a God-fearing and believing brother, whose name was Benjamin, in a monastery called the Monastery of Canopus, who came to it at that time and took refuge there with a holy old man whose name was Theonas. For the Persians had not destroyed this monastery among the rest that they had wrecked, because it lay to the north-east of the city, which Saitus was protecting. This brother Benjamin was a native of the province of Al-Buhairah, and came from a hamlet called Barshut. And he had longed after the monastic life and the practice of asceticism; and so he left his parents and all that they had, for they were very rich, and departed to the monastery, where the holy old man, Theonas, clothed him with the habit of the monastic life, and brought him up in the fear of God; and he grew day by day until his holiness and patience and self-restraint made great advances. And he learnt the scriptures by heart, until what happened to Paul happened likewise to him; for the great one Paul was brought up at Jerusalem with a man whose name was Gamaliel; and then his own assiduity and the grace of the Lord Christ raised him, until he became many times more capable and more excellent than his teacher. So also this Benjamin used to chastise himself |488 by ascetic practices, and took no sleep during the nights when there was an assembly in the church. And he read especially in the Gospel of the Blessed John, for he learnt it by heart.

And on a certain night he saw in his dream a man in shining raiment standing by him, who said to him : «Rejoice, O Benjamin, thou humble sheep, who art also the shepherd that shall feed the reasonable flock of the Lord Christ.» So when he heard these words he was troubled and vexed; but afterwards he rejoiced over the grace given to him from heaven; and he rose hastily and told his Father Theonas; and the old man believed his words with regard to this vision, but said to him : «Err not, my son; for Satan desires by this to cause thee to perish through pride. Go now therefore, and watch over thyself, and fall not by vainglory. For behold, I have spent fifty years in this convent without seeing any such vision, nor has anyone ever told me that he has seen any such thing». So Benjamin was silent and accepted his teacher's words; and grace increased in him day by day, sent from the God of glory; and all his words and actions were assisted by heaven. And the old man Theonas, and all who knew Benjamin, were astonished at the grace of God which was upon him, and thought that he was beside himself, until the old man Theonas took him, and went to the Father Andronicus, the patriarch, and explained his circumstances to him. So he said : «Bring him to me that I may hear him speak». When Benjamin entered, he prostrated himself before the Father Andronicus, the patriarch, who saw the grace of Christ |489 which was upon him, and asked him quietly to make known to him what he had witnessed; and Benjamin confessed, and described the event to him; and the patriarch kept them both with him during that night.

And when morning came, Theonas asked Andronicus to allow them to depart to their monastery in peace. But the patriarch said to him : «As for thee, depart in peace; but the Brother Benjamin henceforth belongs not to thee, for the Lord has elected him to be a servant to himself». And straightway he took Benjamin, and ordained him priest. And Benjamin began to live with the patriarch, assisting him in ecclesiastical works, and in his general administration. And Andronicus rejoiced exceedingly over him, and when his death drew near, charged them that Benjamin should be patriarch after him; and so, when he went to his rest, they made the aforesaid Benjamin patriarch upon the evangelical throne.

And the Persians remained rulers of Egypt and its provinces for six more years after that. Then Heraclius, who had been chief of the patricians under Phocas, the misbelieving emperor, succeeded him on the throne, and devoted himself to the task of fighting the Persians. For by the grace of Christ, he marched against them, and slew Chosroes, their misbelieving king, and ruined his city and made it a wilderness, and carried away its wealth and captives in triumph to Constantinople. And when Heraclius obtained possession of the land, he appointed governors in every place. And he sent a governor to the land of Egypt, named Cyrus, to be prefect and patriarch at the same time. |490 

So when Cyrus came to Alexandria, the angel of the Lord announced his coming to the Father Benjamin, and bade him flee. For the angel said to him : «Flee thou and those that are with thee here, for great troubles will come upon you. But take comfort, for this conflict will last only ten years. And write to all the bishops who are within thy diocese, that they may hide themselves until the wrath of the Lord pass».

So the Father Benjamin, the confessor, the militant by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, settled the affairs of the Church and put them in order, and gave injunctions to the clergy and laity, and charged them to cleave to the right faith even unto death. Then he wrote to the rest of the bishops of the province of Egypt, that they should hide themselves before the coming temptation.

And after that he went forth by the road towards Mareotis, walking on foot by night, accompanied by two of his disciples, until he came to Al-Munâ. Thence he went to Wadi Habib. And the monks there were few in number, because it was only a short time after the ruin which took place in the days of the patriarch Damian; and the Berbers did not allow them to multiply there. Then Benjamin went forth from the monasteries in Wadi Habib, and departed to Upper Egypt; and he remained hidden there in a small monastery in the wilderness until the accomplishment of the ten years, as the angel of the Lord had told him. These were the years during which |491 Heraclius and the Colchian 24 ruled over the land of Egypt. And on account of the greatness of the trials and the straits and the affliction which the Colchian brought down upon the orthodox, in order that they might enter into the Chalcedonian faith, a countless number of them went astray, some of them through persecution, and some by bribes and honours, and some by persuasion and deceit. So that even Cyrus, bishop of Niciu, and Victor, bishop of the Faiyum, and many others denied the orthodox faith, because they had not obeyed the injunctions of the blessed Father Benjamin, and had not hidden themselves as the others did; for the Colchian caught them with the fishing-line of his error, and so they went astray after the impure Chalcedonian council. And Heraclius seized the blessed Mennas, brother of the Father Benjamin, the patriarch, and brought great trials upon him, and caused lighted torches to be held to his sides until the fat of his body oozed forth and flowed upon the ground, and knocked out his teeth because he confessed the faith; and finally commanded that a sack should be filled with sand, and the holy Mennas placed within it, and drowned in the sea. For Heraclius the misbeliever had charged them, saying : «If any one of them says that the council of Chalcedon is true, let him go; but drown in the sea those that say it is erroneous and false.» Therefore they did as the prince bade them, and cast Mennas into the sea. For they took the sack, and conveyed him to a distance of seven bowshots from the land, and said to |492 him : «Say that the council of Chalcedon is good and not otherwise, and we will release thee.» But Mennas would not do so. And they did this with him three times; and when he refused they drowned him. Thus they were unable to vanquish this champion, Mennas, but he conquered them by his Christian patience.

Then Heraclius appointed bishops throughout the land of Egypt, as far as the city of Antinoe, and tried the inhabitants of Egypt with hard trials, and like a ravening wolf devoured the reasonable flock, and was not satiated. And this blessed people who were thus persecuted were the Theodosians.

And in those days Heraclius saw a dream in which it was said to him : «Verily there shall come against thee a circumcised nation, and they shall vanquish thee and take possession of the land». So Heraclius thought that they would be the Jews, and accordingly gave orders that all the Jews and Samaritans should be baptized in all the provinces which were under his dominion. But after a few days there appeared a man of the Arabs, from the southern districts, that is to say, from Mecca or its neighbourhood, whose name was Muhammad; and he brought back the worshippers of idols to the knowledge of the One God, and bade them declare that Muhammad was his apostle; and his nation were circumcised in the flesh, not by the law, and prayed towards the South, turning towards a place which they called the Kaabah. And he took possession of Damascus and Syria, and crossed the Jordan, and dammed it up. And the Lord abandoned the army of the Romans before him, as a punishment for their corrupt faith, and because of |493 the anathemas uttered against them, on account of the council of Chalcedon, by the ancient fathers.

When Heraclius saw this, he assembled all his troops from Egypt as far as the frontiers of Aswan. And he continued for three years to pay to the Muslims the taxes which he had demanded for the purpose of applying them to himself and all his troops; and they used to call the tax the bakt, that is to say that it was a sum levied at so much a head. And this went on until Heraclius had paid to the Muslims the greater part of his money; and many people died through the troubles which they had endured.

So when ten years were over of the rule of Heraclius together with the Colchian, who sought for the patriarch Benjamin, while he was fleeing from him from place to place, hiding himself in the fortified churches, the prince of the Muslims sent an army to Egypt, under one of his trusty companions, named Amr son of Al-Asi, in the year 357 of Diocletian, the slayer of the martyrs. And this army of Islam came down into Egypt in great force, on the twelfth day of Baunah, which is the sixth of June, according to the months of the Romans.

Now the commander Amr had destroyed the fort, and burnt the boats with fire, and defeated the Romans, and taken possession of part of the country. For he had first arrived by the desert; and the horsemen took the road through the mountains, until they arrived at a fortress built of stone, between Upper Egypt and the Delta, called Babylon. So they pitched their |494 tents there, until they were prepared to fight the Romans, and make war against them; and afterwards they named that place, I mean the fortress, in their language, Bâblun Al-Fustât; and that is its name to the present day.

After fighting three battles with the Romans, the Muslims conquered them. So when the chief men of the city saw these things, they went to Amr, and received a certificate of security for the city, that it might not be plundered. This kind of treaty which Muhammad, the chief of the Arabs, taught them, they called the Law; and he says with regard to it : «As for the province of Egypt and any city that agrees with its inhabitants to pay the land-tax to you, and to submit to your authority, make a treaty with them, and do them no injury. But plunder and take as prisoners those that will not consent to this and resist you». For this reason the Muslims kept their hands off the province and its inhabitants, but destroyed the nation of the Romans, and their general who was named Marianus. And those of the Romans who escaped fled to Alexandria, and shut its gates upon the Arabs, and fortified themselves within the city.

And in the year 360 of Diocletian, in the month of December, three years after Amr had taken possession of Memphis, the Muslims captured the city of Alexandria, and destroyed its walls, and burnt many churches with fire. And they burnt the church of Saint Mark, which was built by the sea, where his body was laid; and this was the place to which the father and |495 patriarch, Peter the Martyr, went before his martyrdom, and blessed Saint Mark, and committed to him his reasonable flock, as he had received it. So they burnt this place and the monasteries around it.

And at the burning of the said church a miracle took place which the Lord performed; and that was that one of the captains of the ships, namely the captain of the ship of the duke Sanutius, climbed over the wall and descended into the church, and came to the shrine, where he found that the coverings had been taken, for the plunderers thought that there was money in the chest. But when they found nothing there, they took away the covering from the body of the holy Saint Mark, but his bones were left in their place. So the captain of the ship put his hand into the shrine, and there he found the head of the holy Mark, which he took. Then he returned to his ship secretly, and told no one of it, and hid the head in the hold, among his baggage.

When Amr took full possession of the city of Alexandria, and settled its affairs, that infidel, the governor of Alexandria, feared, he being both prefect and patriarch of the city under the Romans, that Amr would kill him; therefore he sucked a poisoned signet-ring, and died on the spot. But Sanutius, the believing duke, made known to Amr the circumstances of that militant father, the patriarch Benjamin, and how he was a fugitive from the Romans, through fear of them. Then Amr, son of Al-Asi, wrote to the provinces of Egypt a letter, in which he said : «There is protection and security for the place |496 where Benjamin, the patriarch of the Coptic Christians is, and peace from God; therefore let him come forth secure and tranquil, and administer the affairs of his Church, and the government of his nation». Therefore when the holy Benjamin heard this, he returned to Alexandria with great joy, wearing the crown of patience and sore conflict which had befallen the orthodox people through their persecution by the heretics, after having been absent during thirteen years, ten of which were years of Heraclius, the misbelieving Roman, with the three years before the Muslims conquered Alexandria. When Benjamin appeared, the people and the whole city rejoiced, and made his arrival known to Sanutius, the duke who believed in Christ, who had settled with the commander Amr that the patriarch should return, and had received a safe-conduct from Amr for him. Thereupon Sanutius went to the commander and announced that the patriarch had arrived, and Amr gave orders that Benjamin should be brought before him with honour and veneration and love. And Amr, when he saw the patriarch, received him with respect, and said to his companions and private friends : «Verily in all the lands of which we have taken possession hitherto I have never seen a man of God like this man». For the Father Benjamin was beautiful of countenance, excellent in speech, discoursing with calmness and dignity.

Then Amr turned to him, and said to him : «Resume the government of all thy churches and of thy people, and administer their affairs. And if thou wilt pray for me, that I may go to the West and to Pentapolis, and |497 take possession of them, as I have of Egypt, and return to thee in safety and speedily, I will do for thee all that thou shalt ask of me.» Then the holy Benjamin prayed for Amr, and pronounced an eloquent discourse, which made Amr and those present with him marvel, and which contained words of exhortation and much profit for those that heard him; and he revealed certain matters to Amr, and departed from his presence honoured and revered. And all that the blessed father said to the commander Amr, son of Al-Asi, he found true, and not a letter of it was unfulfilled.

Thus when this spiritual father, Benjamin the patriarch, sat among his people a second time, by the grace and mercy of Christ, the whole land of Egypt rejoiced over him; and he drew to himself most of the people whom Heraclius, the heretical prince, had led astray; for he induced them to return to the right faith by his gentleness, exhorting them with courtesy and consolation. And many of those that had fled to the West and to Pentapolis, through fear of Heraclius, the heretical prince, when they heard of the reappearance of their shepherd, returned to him with joy, and obtained the confessor's crown. So likewise the bishops, who had denied their faith, he invited to return to the orthodox creed; and some of them returned with abundant tears; but the others would not return through shame before men, that it should be known among them that they had denied the faith, and so they remained in their misbelief until they died.

And after that, Amr and his troops marched away from Alexandria, and |498 the Christ-loving duke Sanutius marched with him. And on that night the father saw in his dream a man in shining garments, clothed in the raiment of the disciples, who said to him : «O my beloved, make a place for me with thee, that I may abide therein this day, for I love thy dwelling.» Now the place, wherein the patriarch dwelt, was a pure habitation without defilement, in a monastery called the Monastery of Metras, which was the episcopal residence. For all the churches and monasteries which belonged to the virgins and monks had been defiled by Heraclius the heretic, when he forced them to accept the faith of Chalcedon, except this monastery alone; for the inmates of it were exceedingly powerful, being Egyptians by race and all of them natives, without a stranger among them; and therefore he could not incline their hearts towards him. For this reason, when the Father Benjamin returned from Upper Egypt, he took up his residence with them, because they had kept the orthodox faith, and had never deviated from it.

And when the ships, containing the provisions and booty of the troops, and the baggage of the believing duke Sanutius and his companions, were about to set sail, his own particular ship remained motionless, and could not be got under weigh. Therefore a great crowd assembled near that ship, supposing that it had grounded, and fastened towing-ropes to it, and pulled at it with all their might; and yet it did not move at all. So they went to the duke, and made this known to him, for he was sailing with the commander. Then the duke was greatly astonished; and he anchored the ship |499 in which the commander Amr was, and returned accompanied by many people, and when he arrived at the ship, he saw by it an innumerable crowd of men who were unable to move it. So he said to them : «Turn the prow of this ship to the city.» And when they turned it round as if to enter the city, it sped towards it like an arrow. Then the duke said to them : «Draw it outwards,» So they drew it until it arrived at its former position, and then it stood still and motionless. Then they turned the ship inwards again, and it sped; and they drew it outwards again, and it stood still. This happened three times. Then the duke said to the captain of the ship : «Bring up to me the baggage of the sailors, that I may search among it, so that I may see what it is, and discover the cause which has forced this ship to stand still alone of all these ships». Then the captain who had taken the head of the holy Mark, the evangelist, was afraid, and threw himself at the feet of the duke, and confessed to him what he had done, and that the head was hidden among his baggage. So they brought up his baggage from the hold, and found the head among it.

Then they went in haste and made known to the Father Benjamin exactly what had taken place. So he mounted his horse at once, and took with him a body of the clergy, and came to the duke, and related to him the dream which he had seen that night; and thereupon they all said : «Truly this is the head of the holy Mark the evangelist». And as soon as the patriarch |500 Benjamin came to the ship and took the pure head, and so released the ship, it got under sail at once and departed in a straight course. So he and the duke and all the people knew the truth of the story, and bore witness to this miracle, and glorified God.

And the duke gave to the patriarch much money, and said to him : «Rebuild the church of the holy Mark, and pray to him for safety for us». And the Father Patriarch returned to the city, carrying the head in his bosom, and the clergy went before him, with chanting and singing, as befitted the reception of that sacred and glorious head. And he made a chest of teak wood with a padlock upon it, and placed the head therein; and he waited for a time in which he might find means to build a church.

And his care was bestowed night and clay upon the conversion of those members of the Church who had been separated from her in the days of Heraclius; and no other business made him neglect that; for he was filled with faith and the Holy Ghost; and the grace of the Holy Ghost, which was with Athanasius the Apostolic, was with him in his words and in his deeds; and, through his agency and through his prayers, the Lord shewed mercy to his people. By his intercession began the rebuilding of the monasteries of Wadi Habib and of Al-Munâ; and the good works of the orthodox grew and increased, and the people rejoiced like young calves, when their halters are unfastened and they are set free to be nourished by their mothers' milk.

When Amr returned to Egypt, he departed thence once more to the army of |501 the prince of the Muslims; and a man named Abd Allah, son of Sa'd, was sent to Egypt instead of him. This man arrived, accompanied by many people; and, as he was a lover of money, he collected wealth for himself in Egypt; and he was the first who built the Divan at Misr, and commanded that all the taxes of the country should be regulated there.

And in the days of Abd Allah, son of Sa'd, a great dearth took place, the like of which had not been seen from the time of Claudius the unbeliever up to his time. For all the inhabitants of Upper Egypt came down to the Delta, in search of provisions; and the dead were cast out into the streets and market-places, like fish which the water throws up on the land, because they found none to bury them; and some of the people devoured human flesh. And if the Lord had not been compassionate, through the multitude of his mercies and the prayers of our Father Benjamin, the holy one, and speedily put an end to that dearth, all the inhabitants in the land of Egypt would have perished; for every day there died of the people countless myriads. But the Lord accepted the prayers of the patriarch, and had mercy on his people, and satisfied them with his good things, and sought out his heritage in his beneficence, as it is written 25 : «The eyes of all look unto thee, hoping for thee, that thou mayest give them their meat in its season; and when thou givest it them they live and are satisfied with good things.»

Now the holy Benjamin had with him a man full of grace and wisdom, meek like a dove, whose name was Agathon; and he was a priest in the |502 church, and was a native of Mareotis. And he used to disguise himself at Alexandria in the days of Heraclius in the garb of a layman, and went about at night, comforting the orthodox who were concealing themselves there, and settling their affairs, and giving them of the Holy Mysteries. And if it was in the daytime, he carried on his shoulder a basket containing carpenters' tools, and pretended to be a carpenter, that the heretics might not hinder him, and that so he might find a means of entering the houses or lodgings of the orthodox, that he might give them of the Mysteries, and encourage them to patience, and console them. And 1 so he remained ten years until the time of the appearance of the Muslims. Then, when the blessed Benjamin returned to his see in peace, he adopted Agathon as his son in the administration of the holy Church.

Then the blessed Father Benjamin was attacked by a disease in his feet, besides the old age which had come upon him. And he remained thus sick for two years, until the saints prayed for him that God would release him from the prison of this world, so full of sadness, and would bring him to them in the place wherein is no sadness nor sorrow, but which is full of joy, in the land of the living. And God accepted their prayers, and sent to Benjamin three personages, namely Athanasius the Apostolic, and Severus and Theodosius the patriarchs, who were present at his death, and went before his holy soul, while the holy angels bore it on their pure wings, ascending with it to heaven with glory and honour, with the voices of praise and |503 glorification preceding it, until it reached the land of the saints, as the bridegroom enters his chamber, or the king his palace. So he departed to Christ his king, after finishing his conflict, and accomplishing his course, and keeping his faith, without losing one of his flock, on the 8th of Tubah, when he had been patriarch thirty-nine years, keeping the faith, wearing the crown of exile, which he received from the Lord Christ, to whom be glory with the merciful Father and the Holy Ghost, the Giver of Life. Amen. Abba Agathon says : «Those whose thoughts are in heaven are enlightened by the glory of God, who is the Father of Light; and the spiritual love of God is in them, as it is written 26 : Taste and see that the Lord is good. Such was the Father Benjamin, the patriarch, the teacher of the orthodox, who understood the interpretation of the scriptures, and dwelt in the desert, and grasped many mysteries; for he despised his body and cut off his desires, for the love of the Lord Christ our God who is above all. And as for me, |504 the sinner Agathon, I was the son of the Father Benjamin, and knew much of his virtues through my intimacy with him.

And he told me of the great mystery which he had seen manifestly at the consecration of the holy sanctuary of the glorious father, Saint Macarius, in Wadi Habib, and of the canons and rules which he had drawn up. And to that belongs the following account which he related to me :

When I was in my city of Alexandria, having found a time of peace and deliverance from persecution and from the warfare of the heretics, the festival of the Nativity of the Lord Christ arrived on the 28th of Kihak, and we assembled in the church of the Pure Lady Mary, the Mother of the Light, which is called the Porch of the Angels. And we offered many prayers, in the presence of the clergy, and of the chief men of the city, and of all the people old and young, to celebrate the praises of the Lady and Virgin, who brought forth God the Word, the truly Incarnate in this world, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, to whom is due glory with the Father and the Holy Ghost, the One God; and to observe at the same time also the festival of the Lord Christ, the Only-begotten Son, who was incarnate and was made man, and was born of the Pure Virgin at Bethlehem of Juda, one undivided Christ. Then I saw certain monks of calm and dignified appearance, like angels, who had entered into the midst of the congregation; and some of them were priests and some of them were from the desert of the holy Macarius; but they |505 could not reach me, on account of the multitude of the people. So one of the priests came towards me, and made their entrance known to me; therefore I said to him : I have seen them; and I bade him go to them, and he invited them to come to me. When they approached me, I enquired of them the cause of their coming so far. Then they said : We are come to thee with the object of praying thy Paternity, with a prostration, for God's sake to undertake the trouble of a journey to the monastery in the Holy Mountain, Wadi Habib, the home of our father, Macarius the Great, in order to consecrate the new church which has been built to him at the foot of the rock among the cells; because many of the old and sick inhabit cells far away, which are near the water, and are wearied if they mount to the top of the rock. Be gracious then to us, O our father, and endure the fatigue, that the fathers and monks may receive thy blessing; for they all long to behold thy Holiness.

When I heard this, I said to them, in my poverty, with joy : Ah indeed may God make me worthy of that task! So they waited until we had finished the festivities of that day, and of its morrow, which is the 29th of Kihak, and of the third day of the feast. Then I said to thee, O Agathon, and to Cosmas, the scribe, thy companion : Provide for us what we need for the journey to Wadi Habib, that we may receive a blessing from the Father Macarius, and from the brethren and monks.

So we undertook this task; and we began our journey on the second day of Tubah. And when we arrived at Tarûjah, the inhabitants thereof met us |506 with great joy. Then we reached the desert of Al-Munâ, which is that of Abba Isaac, near the mountain of Barnûj; and the brethren who were there rejoiced greatly over us, and we remained there two days, after which they took leave of us; but some of them accompanied us to show us the way leading to the desert and to the mountain; and they were holy and excellent men. So they brought us to the extremity of the desert of the mountain of Nitria.

Then we turned to the Monastery of Baramus, or Maximus and Domitius, where we alighted at the Church of the Holy Isidore; and we abode there one day. Then the brethren and monks who had come to visit us in the city of Alexandria departed, and made our arrival known to the monks of the Monastery of Saint Macarius, save two of their priests who remained with us, together with the brethren who had accompanied us from Al-Munâ; and therefore some of the monks came out to us. And on the 7th day of Tubah we visited the rest of the monasteries, and received blessings from them.

Finally we proceeded to the Monastery of the holy Macarius. And when we drew near to it, the young monks met us with palm-branches in their hands; and after them came old men, carrying smoking censers, and a body of the clergy, chanting like angels, resembling those who came to meet the Lord Christ from Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

And they began to give to my weakness that of which I was not worthy. And there was with them the great teacher Basil, bishop of Niciu. So I glorified the Lord Christ because he had counted me worthv once more to |507 see this renowned desert, and these holy fathers and brothers, and the manifestation of the orthodox faith; and had delivered me from the persecution of the heretics, and saved my soul from the great dragon, the tyrant who drove me away on account of the right faith; and had vouchsafed to me that I should behold my children once more around me. Then all the monks, the priests and the brethren, went before me until I entered the newly built church of Christ. There I seemed to enter Paradise, the place of meeting of the angels, and the joy of the saints, and the abode of rest for the just.

When the morrow arrived, the 8th day of Tubah, I said : Bring to me the priest Agathon, who suffered with me for the faith, in the time of the troubles which came upon me, when the Colchian, that enemy of the truth, attacked my weakness. So when thou earnest to me, I said to thee : O my son, bring forth the books which are requisite for the consecration; and accordingly thou didst bring them forth for me. Then we began the prayers; and with me were Abba Basil, bishop of Niciu, and all the clergy surrounding me, and all the monks, as thou sawest. At that time, while I was thus performing the rite of consecration, behold, I saw an old man, with a great light and radiant brilliancy upon his face; and as I gazed upon him and considered him, I said within myself : This man is fit to be made a bishop, to rule over many people; and if the Lord be pleased, as soon as a see is vacant, I will set him over it; for this person is a holy |508 man, fit for that office. So, while I was thinking of this, I saw a seraph with six wings, who appeared to me, and stood beside me. And he said to me : O bishop, why art thou thinking of this old man? This is Saint Miacarius, father of the patriarchs and bishops and monks who have lived in this desert; and he has come for the consecration of this church. Thereupon I was confounded before him, and considered him while he was standing among his sons with great joy; and the voice of that seraph resounded in my ears, and I was afraid of him. Then he said to me : If his sons walk in the straight way in which he walked, then they will enter with him into the place of the king, and rejoice with him. But he that breaks his commandments has no lot with him, but shall be driven out of the flock and shall have no inheritance with him.

Then the holy Macarius said to him : Put not thy seal, O my Lord, upon my sons with these words; for if a single grape be found in a bunch, it shall not perish, because the blessing of God is in it; and so I also trust in Christ, the Lover of my soul, that if he find among my children a single commandment kept, namely the love of one another, or if they raise their eyes to heaven to the Lord Christ even once every day, he will not forget them in his mercy, but will deliver them from the punishment of eternal hell. For the Lord, the Lover of mankind, grants repentance to the sinner, and desires not his death, in order that he may turn and repent, that so he may receive him. |509 

Thus when I heard the words of Saint Macarius to the seraph, I understood his love for his children. For the interpretation of the name of the Father Macarius is the Blessed one, honoured by God and man. He, the Father Macarius, the disciple of God the Lord, is the net which gathers together of every kind for the kingdom of heaven. Then I said, so that those that were near me might hear me : Blessed art thou, O Saint Macarius, and blessed is thy order and blessed are thy children, since they deserve that thou shouldst be a powerful intercessor for them before the judgment-seat of God our Lifegiver, when our Ring and our God, Jesus Christ, shall come at his second appearing, to reward everyone according to his works in truth. Thou, O Saint Macarius, art the great ark which carries so many souls, and brings them into the harbour of safety and salvation, and thou art the intercessor for us all. As David says in his psalm 27 : Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of hypocrites, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seats of the scornful! Thou art indeed the champion and the prince! Blessed is the womb that carried thee and brought thee forth into the world! Remember me, O thou true saint of God!

Then thou, O Agathon, didst say to me, and the bishop of Niciu said to me : To whom speakest thou, O our father? So I said to you both : I am addressing Saint Macarius, the father of this mountain. For there is a time to speak and a time to be silent. |510 

And I went up to the sanctuary, and said the prayer over the chrism, and took it to anoint the holy sanctuary. And I heard a voice saying : Observe, O bishop! So when I marked the sanctuary with the chrism, I saw the hand of the Lord Christ, the Saviour, upon the walls, anointing the sanctuary. Therefore great fear came upon me and trembling, such as thou sawest in me; but thou and those present did not know the cause of it, nor what I had seen and heard. Then I said, with the Father Jacob 28 : Verily this is a dreadful place, and this is the house of God in truth, and this is the gate of heaven, and the resting-place of the most High.»

Agathon the priest says : «At that time we had looked upon him, and he was like fire, and his face shone with light; and not one of us could speak a word to him, but we were confounded at him. Then the Father Benjamin said : This is the tabernacle of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And he walked round the sanctuary three times, saying Alleluia. Then he chanted the eighty-third Psalm, saying : How lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth and pineth after the dwelling-places of the Lord, thy altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King and my God 29. And he finished saying the psalm to the end.

Then, when he had completed the consecration of the dome, he went out into the body of the church, to consecrate its walls and columns; and at the end he returned and sat in the dome. And he said to us : I have been carried away to-day to the Paradise 30 of the Lord of Sabaoth, and I have |511 heard voices that cannot be uttered nor conceived in the heart of man, as the wise apostle Paul says. Believe me, my brethren, I have seen to-day the glory of Christ filling this dome; and I beheld with my own sinful eyes the holy palm, the sublime hand of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour, anointing the altar-board of this holy sanctuary. I have witnessed to-day the seraphim and the angels and the archangels, and all the holy hosts of the Most High, praising the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost in this dome. And I saw the father of the patriarchs and bishops and doctors of the orthodox Church, standing among us here in the midst of the brethren, his sons, with joy, ---- I mean the Father Macarius the Great. Truly this sanctuary is beneath the throne of the Almighty. This sanctuary is that which Isaias the prophet describes, when he says 31 : There shall be an altar to God in the land of Egypt, and a platform, and five towns that speak the language of Chanaan.

Arise now, my children, and let us finish the liturgy, and obtain the blessing of the fathers, and glorify God most High».

Agathon the priest says : «The patriarch continued his narrative as follows. When I had finished the divine service and communicated the clergy, I saw again a great grace which I must not hide from thee. For when the old men came up for communion, I saw a vapour of incense ascending like perfume from their mouths, so that I thought that each one of |512 those fathers and monks carried incense when he came up to communion. Then the roof of the church opened, and that perfume ascended from it. And I observed their mouths as they prayed when they approached the Host, and I saw the words and the incense which issued from their mouths ascending to heaven. So I was assured then that it was their petitions and their prayers, which they uttered when they received the Holy Mysteries, which are the Body and Blood of the pure Lord Jesus Christ. And I saw the angels receiving those prayers of theirs, and carrying them up before the throne of the Lord. And, on account of the power of their prayers and supplications, I thought : Verily this is the golden candlestick holding the lamp; and this is the precious jewel; and this is the morning-star which rises and shines upon the whole world. And I sang the hymn of the three young men, Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, which they recited in the furnace of burning fire : Blessed art thou O Lord, God of our fathers, and praised and glorified for ever 32. And blessed in truth is the Lord, the , God of these saints, by whom and by whose like he directs the world. This is the meeting-place of the angels, and the harbour of all the souls which flee to God, the Deliverer of all souls. Then I glorified and thanked the Lord Jesus Christ, who made me worthy to witness what I saw.

And when I fell asleep that night, I saw standing before me a shining |513 personage who said to me : Awake, O bishop, and arise to set in order the canons of this church and this sanctuary together; so that every one, whether priest or deacon, may guard himself in his conduct therein in perfect patience and virtuous tranquillity, because Christ our Lord and all his angels are here; and write these canons as a memorial for this holy church for ever. For there will come a crooked generation who will love the praise of men more than the glory of God, and they will trample down this holy place shamelessly and haughtily, and will barter for gold the grace of the Holy Ghost which he gave to his people, and will break the apostolic canons. For who can desire to have an inheritance in this holy place who is without fear of the Lord and whose soul is not tried at the beginning? And the glory of this holy and renowned and venerated place shall be changed by such, who shall occupy as it were stalls for cattle at their entrance into it; for those who are of this kind have hearts like the hearts of cattle, and neither read nor understand. All of them go out of the way and become abominable; and their care is for their bellies, and their glory is in shame; and they go upon their bellies like serpents, and swell, and bite men, and are insolent, haters of their brethren, occupied with eating and drinking, as cattle which have no understanding or their like; and the Apostolic Church separates them from herself.


[1]. No priest shall ascend to this sanctuary until he has put on his pallium first, before he carries the incense into the sanctuary. |514 

[II]. No priest or deacon shall communicate therein until he has vested himself in the epomis or a pallium.

[III]. No priest or deacon shall speak in this holy dome any idle words, nor sit therein to read any book. And he that shall break this canon shall be anathema.

[IV]. If any priest or monk shall enter into this dome, unless he be appointed for the service of this sanctuary, let him be anathema.

[V]. If any of the priests belonging to this place bring a strange priest from Misr or an official into this dome and holy tabernacle, for the sake of human glory, let him be anathema.

[VI]. If any man shall persist in entering into this holy dome, the Lord Jesus Christ shall cast him out.

[VII]. And if any man transgresses in order that he may have a lot in this holy place by means of money or bribe, then let him, and everyone who assists him to enter it for the sake of human glory, be degraded, especially if he be notorious for evil and pride.

Know, my brethren, that not one of these shall receive the lot of Jacob; and the power which dwells in this place and in this holy sanctuaiy will not consent to any of these things. But let a monk be humble, pure, peaceable, perfect in all the approved qualities, as the Teacher Paul testified in what he |515 said about this degree; for he says what is certain in his glorious epistles.

Then this shining personage, by whom I am unworthy to be addressed, said to me : Thy departure, O Benjamin, from this world, which is the separation of thy soul from thy body, will correspond to the day of the consecration of this church. And thou shalt depart to the Lord Christ whom thou lovest, that thou mayest rest in the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the predestined, together with all the elect. So I said to him : O my Lord, I trust that God may make me worthy of what thou sayest, and may receive me, his sinful servant; and that I may go to him on the said day. And blessed be my Lord Jesus Christ, the Lover of my soul and spirit, because his mercy is abundant towards me. Thereupon the seraph disappeared from me.

And the patriarch Benjamin said to us : Think not, my brethren, that I have written these anathemas for this generation. Nay, rather I have written them because there will come another generation in the last times which will deserve what I have written, according to that which the seraph announced to me, who talked with me. Therefore it behoves every believer to beware of following the praise of men; but let him do what is fitting for the glory of God, and love him with all his heart. And do thou my son Agathon, the priest, write down for thyself the date of this consecration; and remind me of it constantly and every day, that I may remember the words of the seraph on this day, that on the same day will take place my departure from this world, it being the 8th of Tubah, on which took place the consecration of the holy church in the name of the holy Macarius, our father. |516 

Now we will record another miracle which took place on the same day. There was in the city of Niciu a great and eminent official, whose custom it was to enter at all times into the holy monasteries in Wadi Habib; and accordingly he was present on the day of the consecration of the church of Saint Macarius, accompanied by a son of his who was afflicted by disease, in whom was manifested another great and conspicuous wonder, worked by the blessed Father Macarius, who is the father of the holy mountain in Wadi Habib, and the comforter of all the patriarchs and bishops and monks and teachers in the whole world; for the odour of the incense of his works, and the beauty of his deeds have filled the land, and his lamp illumines all that come to him. And it was the custom of this official to come to the monastery always at the feasts of the Nativity and of the Baptism and of Easter; and thus he was present on the day of the consecration together with his son, whom he entrusted to the charge of a holy monk, with whom was a youth who served him. When the consecration and the liturgy were finished, and the people had communicated, the son of the official was sleeping in the holy church; and at that moment he cried out in his sleep so that he frightened the people who were present with his cries. But that monk took courage, and went up to the lad, and awoke him; and when he awoke, the congregation observed him, and behold, he was healed, and seemed like a new creature on that day. So they glorified God for this great miracle which had taken place. |517 

The Father Benjamin, the patriarch, said : So when I had finished the communion, I called the official, the father of the lad, and inquired of him concerning the circumstances of his son, and he informed me of his sickness and all that had happened to him. Then I called the lad and said to him : O my son, explain to me what thou sawest in thy dream, and hide nothing of it from me. So the lad said : While I was sleeping, I saw a tall old man with a light beard descending over his breast, and he squeezed my body with his hands, so that I cried out with the pain. Then he grasped with his hand the edge of my garment and drew it up over my head, and I saw all my disease and sores adhering to my garment, and they were stripped off with it from my body. And he said to me : Be of good courage, my son, for behold, thou art cured. So when this father and monk had finished, I rose up healed. This is what happened to me, O my lord and father.

So I, Benjamin, beheld him with my eyes on that day, and he was healed; and I glorified the Lord Jesus Christ, who showed to me his power and wonders by the hand of the holy Saint Macarius, who heals souls and bodies by his intercession with God, and who is become a harbour for the salvation of the world. Blessed therefore is the Mountain of Nitria, which was worthy to be inhabited by Saint Macarius, the intercessor for us and for all who visit him. O mountain in which is the mystery of God! O mountain on which are assembled those elect ones who shine therein more |518 brightly than the light of the sun by day, and whose prayers ascend like a flaming fire! O mountain in which the spiritual fruit bears thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold! O mountain which salts souls, and restores them from sin, and purifies them by repentance, so that they are white like snow! Thou art the true mountain on which are assembled the kings and the rich men and the poor, to serve God there. Thou art the mountain of salt in truth, which salts souls that stank with sin and iniquity. It is thou that hast made robbers into teachers and martyrs and saints. Therefore may they pray now without weariness before our Lord Jesus Christ, that he may strengthen us in the orthodox faith, in his illuminating Church, that all of us who are baptized may exult at all times therein. And we pray him to deliver us from the persecutions of those who rule over us, and from the wiles of the hunter and enemy of the truth, Satan, the evil prince.

Glory and power and majesty be to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, now and always and for ever and ever. Amen.»

With the help of God is finished the first half of the first part of the book of the Histories of the Patriarchs in the great city of Alexandria, successors of Saint Mark the Evangelist. May God grant us the blessing of his prayers and of their prayers! And their number is thirty-eight patriarchs.

[Footnotes moved to the end and renumbered]

1. 1. Eus., H. E., VII, 32; VIII, 13; IX, 6. ---- The seven mss. collated for the preceding fasciculus have been consulted also for the present one, the Paris ms. 4772 being here designated by the letter G. C. like E. contains an abridged text.

2. 1. See the three versions of the Acts of St. Peter, published by Baronius and afterwards Mai. Spicil. Rom., III, p. 673. Rome, 1840; Surius (25 Nov.); and Combefis, Illustrium Christi Martyrum lecti Triumphi, etc. p. 189, Paris, 1660. The last alone is in the original Greek, the others being Latin translations. Cf. Viteau (Greek text), Passions des saints Ecaterine, Pierre d'Alex., etc., Paris, 1897; Bedjan (Syriac version). Acta mart. et sanct., t. V, Paris. 1895, pp. 543-561; Hyvernat, Actes des Martyrs, tirés des Mss. coptes, etc.. Paris, 1886.

3. 1. S. John, xi, 50; xviii. 14.

4. 1. Ps, lxviii, 1 (Sept. lxvii).

5. 1. Psalm cxix, 131 (Sept. cxviii).

6. 1. S. Matth., vii, 7; S. Luke, xi, 9.

7. 1. S. Matth., xxiv, 2; S. Mark, xiii. 2; S. Luke, xix, 44; xxi, 6.

8. 1. Job, vi, 21 (Sept.).

9. 1. S. John, i, 18.

10. 2. S. Matth., i, 23.

11. 3. Is., vii, 14.

12. 4. S. Mark, xiv, 61, 62.

13. 5. I Tim., vi, 13.

14. 6. S. Luke, i, 32-35.

15. 1. Phil., ii, 6, 7.

16. 2. I Thess., i, 10; Hebr., i, 4-6, 13; ii, 5. 8, 9.

17. 1. S. Matth., xvii, 4; S. Mark, ix, 4: S. Luke, ix, 33.

18. 1. III Kings, xii, 16.

19. 2. The Acephali.

20. 1. Acts, viii, 20, 23.

21. 1. S. Matth., iv, 8-10. S. Luke, iv, 5-8.

22. 1. Ps. lviii, 4, 5 (Sept. lvii).

23. 1. Ps. lxxxv, 10 (Sept. lxxxiv, 11).

24. 1. Mukaukas seems to be the Coptic [Coptic], «Colchian» or «Caucasian», and to denote Cyrus, bishop of Phasis. appointed by the emperor Heraclius to be patriarch of Alexandria, and prefect of Egypt. See Dr. A. J. Butler, On the identity of Al-Mukaukis of Egypt in Trans. of Soc. of Bib. Arch. 1901.

25. 1. Ps. civ, 27, 28; cxlv. 15. 18 (Sept. ciii. cxliv.)

26. 1. Ps. xxxiv, 8 (Sept. xxxiii. 9).

27. 1. Ps. i. 1.

28. 1. Gen., xxviii, 17.

29. 2. Ps. lxxxiv, 1. 2. 3 (Sept. lxxxiii).

30. 3. II Cor., xii, 4.

31. 1. Isaias, xix, 19. 18.

32. 1. Daniel, iii. 52 (Greek).

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This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2005. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.

Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts