The Departure of Pope Mattheos, the One Hundredth Pope of Alexandria
On this day also of the year 1362 A.M. (March 31st. 1646 A.D.) on Lazarus' Saturday Pope Mattheos III, the one hundredth Patriarch departed. He was known by the name Matthew El-Toukhy, a son of Christian parents from the city of Toukh El-Nasarah, El-Monofiah province. They feared God, caring for the strangers and charitable to the poor and the needy. God granted them a son, they called him Tadros, and they raised him well. They disciplined him with every spiritual discipline, and taught him the holy church books. The grace of God filled this blessed son, so he devoted himself to study and teach Christian education. The grace of God moved himto the angelic and ascetic life, so he went forth from his town, left his family and kinfolks and followed the commandments of the Lord Christ and went to the wilderness of Sheahat. He became a monk in the monastery of the great St. Macarius, and he fought a great fight in asceticism and worship. They ordained him a priest so he increased in asceticism and grew in virtues then they promoted him archpriest and head for the monastery.
Shortly after, Pope Yoannis XV, the ninety-ninth Patriarch departed, the fathers the bishops, the priests and the notables gathered to choose who would fit to be elevated to the Chair of St. Mark. They continued on praying asking the Lord Christ, to Him is the glory, to chose for them a good shepherd to guard His flock from the ravenous wolves. With the Will of the Lord Christ, the Shepherd of the shepherds, everyone agreed on choosing father Tadros the hegumen of St. Macarius monastery. They went to the monastery and forcibly seized him and enthroned him a Patriarch by the name Mattheos on the 4th. of El-Nasi (The intercalary days) year 1347 A.M. (September 7th. 1631 A.D.) and Anba Yoanis, the metropolitan of the Syrian monastery, headed the enthronement service.
When this Pope sat on the Apostolic Chair, he cared for Christ's flock with the best of care, and at the beginning of his days, there was peace and tranquility for the believers. The churches rested from the tribulations that they were under. Satan the enemy of the good envied him, he moved some evil doers against the Pope, so they went to the Governor in Cairo and told him that whomever sat on the Patriarchal Chair paid much money to the Governor. The Governor listened to their accusations and called the Patriarch to collect the dues. The notables went to meet the Governor who did not ask about the absence of the Patriarch but rather discussed the dues that the Patriarch pay. He forced them to bring four thousands Dinars. They left him with sadness and grief because of the heavy fine.
But God, to Him is the glory, who does not wish anyone to parish had put mercy in the heart of a Jewish man who paid the required fine to the Governor. The notables promised that man to pay him back, they divided the fine among them and allocated a small portion of this heavy fine for the Pope to pay. He went to Upper Egypt to collect the sum of money required from him, and because of his faith and his strong belief in God's help, the people with compassionate heart and willingly gave him what he asked them. Shortly after, he came to Lower Egypt to visit his flock, he went to the city of Berma, and the people of the city of Toukh his home town came to him and invited him to come to visit the city so they be blessed by him, and he fulfilled their request. During the days of this Patriarch a great famine befell all the land of Egypt, nothing like it happened before, the people suffered much and many died.
King of Ethiopia sent to the Patriarch asking for a Metropolitan. Pope Mattheos ordained for them a Metropolitan from the people of the city of Assiut and sent him to them. Much tribulations and sorrows befell this Metropolitan while he was there, until they removed him and ordained another one instead of him.
After the Pope had finished his pastoral visit to the people of Lower Egypt and his acceptance to the invitation of the people of Toukh to visit their city, he left Berma with them on their way to Toukh El-Nasarah. When he drew near from the city, the priests and the Christian mass received him with reverence, veneration, and spiritual hymns to befit his honor. He entered the church with honor and glory and stayed with them one year preaching and teaching the people.
On the blessed Saturday, the commemoration of the day in which the Lord raised Lazarus from the dead, he met the priests and the people after the liturgy, ate with them, and he bade them farewell saying, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that his tomb will be in the church of this city and that he will not depart Toukh. He dismissed the people and went to rest in the house of one of the deacons. When the deacon returned home, he knocked on the door of the Pope's room, when he did not get any answer he entered the room and found the Patriarch laying on his bed, looking toward the east, his hand over his chest as the Holy Cross and his spirit had departed in the Hands of the Lord. The priests and the people came in haste and found him departed and his look did not change, but his face was shining as the sun. They took his blessed body to the church, and prayed over him as worthy of the fathers the Patriarchs, and buried him in the church in the city of Toukh his home town. He stayed on the Apostolic Chair for fourteen years, six month and 23 days did not eat meat or drink wine in it, and departed in a good old age.
May his prayers be with us and Glory be to God forever. Amen.
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