On this day also, the holy father and fighter St. Peter the Fourth, 34th Pope of Alexandria, departed. His predecessor Pope Theodosius was exiled by the orders of Emperor Vespasian because he did not agree with him on the resolutions of the Council of Chalcedon. When the Pope departed in exile, the Emperor did not permit the ordination of a new Patriarch. The lay leaders of the city of Alexandria went to its governor, who was an honorable and forthright man, and expressed to him their grief because of the vacancy of the Patriarchal chair. He advised them to go to the monastery of El-Zogag as if they were going to pray, there they could then ordain the patriarch of their choice. They rejoiced at this counsel. The bishops took Abba Peter to the monastery of El-Zogag and ordained him Patriarch on the first of Mesra, 283 A.M. (July 25th, 567 A.D.).
Before this, Anba Severus had departed and the Antiochian chair remained vacant. When the people of Antioch heard that the Egyptians had ordained for themselves a patriarch, they also ordained for themselves a patriarch called Theophanius. He and Pope Peter exchanged letters concerning the Orthodox faith. Each one mentioned his brother in the Divine Liturgy, nevertheless they did not dare to go to their official seats. Pope Peter resided in the monastery of Epiphaniah south of El-Zogag monastery, as Theophanius was residing in the monastery of Aphtonius in the outskirts of Antioch.
In those days, there were six hundred monasteries and thirty-two villages on the outskirts of Alexandria; all their inhabitants were Orthodox. The city of Alexandria, the cities of Upper and Lower Egypt, the monks of the monasteries of the desert of Scete, Ethiopia and Nuba were under the authority of Pope Peter. He did not cease sending Epistles to the believers to confirm them in the Orthodox faith. He went around visiting the monasteries of Alexandria and its villages, teaching, admonishing, and strengthening them. He chose a holy and learned man called Damianos and appointed him as his scribe. Pope Peter delegated to him the care of the churches, and he became a patriarch after him. Pope Peter went on caring for his flock, confirming them in the Orthodox faith until he departed in peace.
May his prayers be with us and Glory be to God for ever. Amen.
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