On this day also, the church celebrates the departure of Pope Yoannis (John) the Eighteenth, the 107th Pope of Alexandria. He was of the people of El-Fayyoum and his name was Joseph. He became a monk in the monastery of the great St. Antonios on the mount of El-Araba. When Pope Marcus the seventh, his predecessor, departed, the bishops, priests, and the notables of the people unanimously agreed on choosing him a Patriarch. They brought him and ordained him a Patriarch in the church of the martyr St. Marcurius in Old Cairo. That was on Sunday, 15th of Babah, 1486 A.M. (October 23, 1769 A.D.). He was called Yoannis the Eighteenth, the 107th Pope of Alexandria.
During his days, the Pope of Rome attempted to attract the Eastern Churches and especially the Orthodox Church of Egypt (The Coptic Church) to the Catholic rite. He published the proceedings of the Council of Chalcedone in a book and distributed it in all the countries of the East. This council had caused the schism of the church, and the Saint Pope Dioscorus (25th Patriarch) had refused to recognize the legitimacy of this council.
The Pope of Rome then sent an envoy to Pope Yoannis carrying a message inviting him to be united with him. Pope Yoannis gave this message to Anba Yusab El-Abbah, bishop of Girga. He asked him to study it and to respond to it. This great scholar and distinguished theologian replied, refuting all the claims of Rome. He defended his church, its faith, and its doctrines, a splendid defense that immortalized his memory. However, the book of the proceedings of the Council of Chalcedone brought the opposite results of what Rome expected from publishing it. The book was a proof of the sound teachings and doctrines of the Coptic Orthodox church. The Bishop of Rome was sorry for publishing the book in the East, and he gathered its copies and burned them.
During the papacy of Pope Yoannis (John) many tribulations and hardships befell him from the rulers of the country and the Ottoman governors. The Turkish commander of the army seized the patriarchate treasury and took all its funds. That forced the Pope to disappear from the oppression and the injustice of those rulers who over tasked the Christians with their unjust rules and the enormous increase of taxes stipulated from them.
Pope Yoannis participated with Ibrahim El-Gohary, the head scribe at that time, in restoring the monasteries and the churches. He also made the Holy Myron. He departed on the second day of the blessed month of Baounah, 1512 A.M. (June 7, 1797 A.D.). He remained on the patriarchal chair for twenty-six years, seven months, and sixteen days. He was buried in the tomb of the patriarchs in the church of St. Marcurius Abu-Saifain. The chair remained vacant three months and twenty-six days after his departure.
May his prayers be with us and Glory be to God forever. Amen.
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