The Departure of St. Alexandros II, 43rd Pope of Alexandria
On this day of the year 715 A.D., the Holy Father Abba Alexandros II (Alexander), 43rd Popeof Alexandria, departed. He was from the City of Bana. He became a monk in the monastery of Pateron (Barbarun) or the monastery of the fathers, which was also known as El-Zugag monastery, which was west of Alexandria. Because of his righteousness and his knowledge, he was chosen to the throne of St. Mark.
During his papacy, he suffered many hardships. He was contemporary to the Caliph El-Walid Ibn Abd-Elmalek. When the latter took the caliphate, he appointed his brother Abdallah a governor of Egypt in the year 698 A.D. He mistreated the Christians of Egypt, and confiscated the monasteries of the wilderness of Shiheet (Scetis).
His evil nature went to the extreme. One day he entered a monastery in Upper Egypt, and saw an icon of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, and inquired about it. He was told that it was the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ, the Savior of the world, he spat on the icon and said, "If I live, I shall destroy all the Christians." He then blasphemed against the Lord Christ also.
At night, he saw a vision during his sleep which disturbed him, and filled his heart with fear. He wrote to his brother saying, "that he suffered the day before as he saw a Man sitting on a great throne, and His face shone more than the sun, and around Him were thousands carrying arms. We were bound behind Him. When I asked who He was, I was told that He was Christ Jesus, the King of the Christians, Whom I mocked and despised the day before. One of the armed men came and pierced my side with a spear."
His brother was extremely sad when he heard about the vision. The same night, that man, Abdallah, caught a severe fever and died. Forty days later, his brother El-Walid died also. In 701 A.D. another Governor replaced Abdallah, and he followed his predecessor's policy. He mistreated the Christians, and arrested St. Alexandros and tortured him until the believers collected for him three thousand Dinari. God perished this Governor soon after that.
The following Governor, was even more wicked than the one before him. He ordered the arrest of the Pope, and asked him for three thousand Dinari. The Pope excused himself saying that part of the money that he paid to his predecessor was collected from some of the believers and the rest was borrowed. The Governor did not accept his words, and finally the Pope asked him for a grace period.
The Pope went to Upper Egypt to collect the money from the believers. During his travel, an ascetic monk asked two of his disciples to dig out a cave. While they were digging, they found five copper jars filled with gold. They kept one of them and gave the rest to the hermit, which he sent to the Pope. The two disciples took the gold and left the desert. They went out into the world, married, and owned cattle, slaves and maidenservants.
The Governor was informed about these two men, and he called them to him. He threatened them if they did not tell him the truth about their sudden wealth. They told him about the five jars of gold, and that four jars were given to the Pope. He rushed to the patriarchate and plundered all the church vessels. He seized the Pope, insulted him and put him in prison. He demanded from the Pope the jars and the three thousand Dinari. He did not release him until the Pope gave it all to him.
Shortly after that, this Governor died, and another even more evil came after him. He ordered the Christians to tattoo on their wrists, instead of the sign of the honorable Cross, the name of the "beast" that St. John the Theologian had prophesied about in all the land. He also commanded the Pope to tattoo the sign of the beast on his wrist, but the Pope refused. As the Governor insisted, the Pope asked him for three days. The Pope went to his cell and prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ not to forsake him so that he would not fail in this test. The Lord answered his prayer, so he fell with a brief sickness.
He went to the Governor and asked his permission to go to Alexandria. The Governor refused, thinking that the Pope was pretending to be sick just to escape the tattooing. Afterwards, the Lord inspired him that he would depart from this world after four days. He told this to his disciples, and asked them to prepare a carriage to carry his body and to bury him beside the holy fathers. He departed in peace, and was carried for his burial as he requested.
During the papacy of Abba Alexandros, the Melkites had a Patriarch in Egypt by the name of Anastasius, who was hated by his own people because he loved the Orthodox Copts and was peaceful with them. He left his own congregation and went to Pope Alexandros, and confessed the Orthodox faith before him. The Pope treated the Patriarch well, honored him and wanted to hand him the affairs of the patriarchate so he could go and worship in seclusion in one of the monasteries. Father Anastasius refused and said to him, "If I had desired the patriarchal seat, I could have remained there, for I was a patriarch, but now I want to be your disciple." He finally accepted, however, to become a bishop in one of the bishoprics, and he shepherded the flock entrusted to him well.
Abba Alexandros remained on the seat of St. Mark for 24 years and 9 months.
His prayers be with us all. Amen.
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