The Departure of Pope Yoannis the Seventeenth, the 105th. Patriarch of Alexandria
On this day also, the distinguished Pope and prudent pontiff, Anba Yoannis the seventeenth, 105th Patriarch of Alexandria, departed. The parents of this father were pious Christians from the city of Mallawy, in Upper Egypt. When he was 25 years old, he left this futile world and went to the monastery of St. Antonios. He became a monk there and his name was Abdel Sayed. Then he went to the monastery of Anba Paula, after its renovation. He exerted himself in worship, and educated himself. He learned reading and writing, for he was illiterate, then he thoroughly studied the holy books.
After he exerted himself in asceticism and a virtuous life, studying the church subjects and its books, the fathers the monks chose him as a priest for them. Pope Yoannis, 103rd Patriarch ordained him along with his fellow Mourgan El-Assuity, who became, later on, Pope Petros VI, 104th Patriarch. When Pope Petros VI, 104th Patriarch departed, the fathers the bishops, priests, and lay leaders discussed who would be fit for the Patriarchal Chair. They chose this father among others, and brought them from the monasteries to Cairo. After they prayed the Divine Liturgy for three days, they cast the lot, which fell on this father.
He was ordained a Patriarch in the church of the martyr Mercurius Abu Saifain, in Old Cairo, on Sunday, the sixth of Tubah, 1443 A.M. (January 12th., 1727 A.D.). After his ordination and before the reading of the Gospel, they opened the door to the tomb of the fathers the Patriarchs, as the custom, for the newly elected Pope to go down and take the cross and staff from the hand of his departed predecessor. After he went down and took the cross, the bones in the tomb crepitated, and he was terrified, so he ordered to stop this practice, saying that the crosses and staffs were in abundance. The purpose of this custom was that the successor will take a lesson from his departed predecessor, so he would not be deceived by the position and become arrogant, and seeing the fate of his predecessor would be a lesson and example before him always. The Pope stayed after his enthronement a week in Old Cairo, then went to the Patriarchal residence in Haret El-Rum.
This Pope dedicated himself to building churches and monasteries, their renovation and consecration. During his Papacy, a wonderful church was built in the monastery of Anba Paula, the first hermit in the Nemr Mount, and consecrated it himself. He was accompanied by Anba Ebraam, Bishop of El-Bahnasa, and an assembly of the notables. Among them was the archon Girgis El-Sourogy, who paid for the building of this church.
After that, Pope Youannis built a church, refectory, and other buildings in the monastery of the honorable saint Anba Antonios, the father of all monks. He consecrated it by his blessed hands and ordained there hegumens, priests, and deacons. The honorable archon Girgis El-Sourogy also paid for these buildings.
In the ninth year of his Papacy, in 1451 A.M., the Sultan ordered to raise the taxes for the Christians and Jews three folds. Later, these taxes were raised more and imposed over the monks, priests, children, poor, and beggars without exempting anyone, so the time of this father was difficult and sorrowful for the poor, professionals and trade workers.
During his time, there was also a great increase in prices and a severe earthquake shook Cairo in the middle of the night, which lasted for about an hour. The foundation of the earth violently shook, houses were destroyed, and people trembled then God Had mercy on his people and removed from them these bitter tribulations.
When Anba Khristozolo III, 102nd Metropolitan of the Chair of Ethiopia, departed, a group of Ethiopian lay leaders came to Pope Yoannis, in the 17th year of his Papacy, in 1460 A.M. (1744 AD.), and asked him to ordain for them a Metropolitan. He ordained for them the monk John (Youhanna), one of the priests of the monastery of our great father Anba Antonios, and called him Youannis XIV, and returned with joy with him.
This Pope lived long and lived until a good old age shepherding his flock with the best of care. When he finished his strife, he fell sick for a short illness and then departed in peace on the Monday of the Paschal week, the thirteenth of Baramoudah, year 1461 A.M. (April 20th., 1745 A.D.). He sat on the Chair 18 years, 3 months, and 8 days, and was buried in the tomb of the Patriarchs in the church of St. Mercurius Abu-Saifain in Old Cairo. He was contemporary to the Sultan Ahmed III and the Sultan Mahmoud I. The Chair remained vacant one month and ten days after his departure.
His blessings be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.
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