Greek orthodox patriarchate of alexandria


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The rising course of the Patriarchate mainly from 1830 until 1960 undoubtedly is due to the Greek migration from the mainland during Moh All's era and his dynasty.

The dawn of the 19th century finds Parthenios the 2nd from Patmos, Patriarch (1788-1805). The Christians of Egypt continue to be few and Parthenios take care of them. He restored the church of St. George in Cairo. Because he was an intellectual, he looked after the library of the Patriarchate. He is referred as its first list maker. Although he had good relations with Bonaparte, the French taxed the Patriarchate of Alexandria, very hard a fact that became worse when the Mamelouks gained power after the withdrawal of the French troops from Egypt.

The big migrated wave of the Greeks started when Theophilos the 2nd (1805-1825) from Patmos was Patriarch. He also reinforced Moh. Ali and the Greeks who settled in the country. The outbreak of the Greek Revolution in 1821 made him to leave Egypt, under the Sublime Porte's presence. Finally the Ecumenical Patriarchate abolished him and it continued its interference in the domestic affairs of the Church of Alexandria. It was obvious that he was initiated in to the Society of Filiki Heteria and in the revolution­ary plans for the liberation of Greeks.

In Alexandria there were the School and the Hospital of Greeks, under the merchants' and the ship owners' initiative. Institutions were also in combination with the beneficial, charitable activities of St. Savas monastery, which were useful for the establishment of the Greek community later by the brothers Tositsa and others. This community was also helped with the donations of Patriarchs Theophilos and Ierotheos the 1st (1825-1845) in money and in a building plot where the first Greek local hospital was built.

During Ierotheos time, EKA (Hellenic Community of Alexandria) was founded and in this way, the Greek people of Egypt, of Sudan and little by little of the rest of Africa, began to organize institutions of charity education, social activity and for the economy. The increase of the Greek population of Egypt demanded to elect its Patriarch. Ierotheos the 2nd (1847-1858) is the first, who was elected with the participation of the flock. This prelate conduced to the ordination of other bishops to the foundation of churches. He inaugurated the church of the Annunciation of Theotokos in Alexandria. He renovated the patriarchal library and the existed patriarchal schools in Cairo. Finally he established the Greek Orthodox Community of Cairo in 1856.

Orthodoxy in the area suffered a new blow in its balance of the administration in the foreign matters of the Patriarchate in the area. In Callinikos' years (1858-1861) the Russian side, in vain, managed to contribute to the union of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria with the Coptic Church and the Abyssinian. That was a criti­cal moment especially for the Patriarchate in Alexandria which faced "a lamentable domestic trouble" according to Chrysostome Papadopoulos. In 1866 Nikanor from Thivais is elected Patriarch. Since then the rule of independence from other ecclesiastical or political authorities was put through for the Patriarchate. The formation of a Synod takes place for first time with essential authority in the election of Patriarch. In addition to that the role of the people in the election was enacted. But, unfortunately from 1866 until 1870 the Church of Alexandria was stormed-tossed hard. The Nikanor's prolonged illness led to actions, against him unfortunately and was approved by the Greek side, the Egyptian and the Russian ones. In 1867 in St. Stephen's church, which belonged to Zizinia's family in Alexandria, the Synod under Nikanor disdained Eugene the Xeropotamian, who had already been pre-ordained Patriarch. The Synod nominated Nile the Esphigmenites, vicar. The new actions, which followed divided the flock and the cler­gy, because two Patriarchs were mentioned. On the 30th of May from the Great Church of Phanari, Sofronios from Constantinople was elected. So the Church of St. Mark found its peace again and tried to improve the finance of the Patriarchate. With a spirit of under­standing he cooperated with the Greek Community of Alexandria especially with G. Averof, who participated in its administration since 1885. Hellenic Community of Alexandria had these two leaders and succeeded in the foundation and extension of the hospital and churches (St. Elias), of the Town Girl's school, of the High School, which were added to the already existed institutions. Simultaneously the institutional organiza­tion of the Greeks of Suez Canal began and of the people in the interior of Egypt, as well.


The 20th century began but without Sofronios and Averof (1899), who had already died. On the Patriarchal throne was Photios Peroglou, from Nazareth. A new period for the superiority of the Greek quarter and for the Greeks of Egypt began.

Photios' patriarchy is connected with a real peak of Hellenism in Egypt. In the first

decade the foundation of the most important school and of other relative buildings of char­ity were in progress in the building block of the area Chatby in Alexandria outside the cen­ter. The benefactors G. Zervoudakis, E. Benakis and C. Salvagos and their families offered money for the building and the maintenance of the school and the institutions, which shel­tered the High school and Lyceum, Boarding school Mess, Commercial and Vocational school, closed building gymnasium, theatre, playground of athletic matches, changing room and other places which completed a cluster of buildings enviable for its time.

In the time of Photios the patriarchal printing house was founded and began its works. There the two distinguished magazines "Ekklesiastikos Pharos" and "Pantainos" were printed. Numerous of self-contained books of literary, and scientific content of various sectors were printed. The matter of the administrative structure was taken care by Photios.

But the concern for a best administration is that of Meletios Metaxakis (1926-1935) work, who succeeded Photios. In 1926 Meletios was elected on the basis of the already institutionalized rule of the Patriarch's election, which later took a more representative character as far as the will of the electoral body and people were concerned. Meletios was the ex-Patriarch of Constantinople, Archbishop of Athens, America, Kitiou, a great prelate. The election was'approved later, in 1927, because in the mean time, the Syrian Orthodox demanded succession. During the patriarchy of Meletios the basis of the struc­ture and of the infrastructure of the Church of Alexandria were put as follows:

In Egypt and in the rest of Africa thedioceses increased. So the trusteeships of Alexandria and Cairo and the dioceses of Ermoupolis, Leontopolis, Pelousion, Memfis, Ptolemais, Tripolis, Carthage, Nubia, Axum, Ioannoupolis began to work with rights in the Synod and a remarkable diocese system. The seminary "of St. Athanasios" (Alexandria and Cairo) and the Boarding school (Heliopolis of Cairo) were founded and worked at that time too. The monasteries of St. Savas Alexandria, of St. George, of St. Nicholas of Cairo, and of St. Nicholas in Rozetti and Damieti worked too. Meletios' remarkable work continued with sug­gestion and approval. The following were put into effect from his own initiative:

1st The Organic law of the Patriarchate, which was suggested and approved by the Egyptian government It should be noticed that is the first time for an Arab speak­ing-Syrian orthodox bishop of Axum (Abdallah) to be ordained.

2nd Regulation of the Patriarch's election, which was institutionalized in two stages, in which the seculars participated as well.

3rd Orders of Bishops'elections.

4th Patriarchal order about the clergy.

5th Patriarchal order about the financial management of the Patriarchate.

6th Organization of the ecclesiastical courts.

Meletios also stated precisely the Synodic work of the Patriarchate after he had divid­ed it into Canonical, Administrative, and Judicial. Of course he was the proper one, who could reinforce the institutions of education, charity and worship. So except the Seminary, he reinforced the Preaching not only from the pulpit but written and delivered to the faith­ful and the students. He regularized the Charity work through the Spetseropouleio Orphans House, which was donated by the brothers Spetseropoulos to the church for the orphans. The church was given the management. Meletios extended this kind of work to all the Greek people of Egypt. Meletios also took care of the removal of the Patriarchal library from Cairo to Alexandria.

During that period the statistical patriarchal services estimated the number of the flock up to 150.000 people. Those of the school age rose to 18.000 young boys and girls. Especially the 88% of the total were of Greek origin (Greeks in race), the 10% of Arabic and the 2% of Russian. Meletios also continued to support the idea, which had been expressed years ago that the Greek communities and the guilds should not be vehicles of the private law but they should accept orthodox members of other nationalities as well. It is known that in the Greek Communities of Egypt, as their charters delaminated, only the Greek citizens were declared members. Some years ago the Greek Community of Alexandria changed that point of the charter and accept also Greeks in race and non-Greek citizens. Cypriots, English citizens were excluded, before the independence, Dodecaneseans, and Italian citizens, before the incorporation.

In a given time, Meletios was preparing his going to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem where he had studied. Unfortunately this going was not carried out. Fortunately his will to change the system of the Patriarch's election subtracting the privilege of the Greek fac­tors of the country did not succeed. He was faced with a strong reaction by them and he retreated.

Meletios took a brave position against the fervent inter orthodox matters of his time. He displayed a spirit of understanding for the Anglican and the Palaio Catholics (Old Catholics) with some positive steps temporarily, but without a successful end. He used to travel to the Communities and the dioceses of Africa and Europe having experience from his past, of course, as prelate of international validity. The Patriarchate's expansion of its jurisdiction to all Africa is backed up by his validity.

The death of Meletios raised the matter of succession from the part of the Syrian -orthodox, then and now with the interference of the Egyptian side, which delayed a whole year to approve (1937) the election of Nicholas the 5th Evangellides, from Nubia and Ermoupolis, which took place in 1936. Finally they agreed the selector body to be con­sisted, in future, of: 1/3 clergy, 1/3 orthodox people of Greek nationality and 1/3 ortho­dox-orthodox people of Egyptian nationality. Nicholas was an educated man. He wrote the Greeks' history of Sudan. He stopped the works of the "Seminary of St. Athanasios", temporarily. It had worked totally for ten years 1926-1936, while he founded a two years ecclesiastical institution and organized the Patriarchal Orphans House of Heliopolis in Cairo. His range was in direct to that of Meletios, but he did not live long as patriarch. He died in 1939.

Patriarch of the critical decade of the 2nd world war was Christopher the 2nd Daniilides (1939-1967), from Axum and Leontopolis. The regulation of the Patriarch elec­tion, contained concrete items for the selector body, in a period when the peak of Hellenism of Egypt was in its last stage. In that case voted: 7 bishops, 9 head vicars of seats of dioceses, 13 priests of the archdiocese of Alexandria, 12 aliens of Alexandria mainly of the church of the Annunciation, 3 of the parish of Taxiarches of Ibraimia of Alexandria, 9 Arab speakers of Alexandria of the Egyptian law, 9 Arab speakers of Cairo of the Egyptian law, 1 Arab speaking Tantas of the Egyptian law, 10 Greek speakers of Cairo of the Egyptian law, 3 benefactors ofjhe Patriarchate.

It is true that Christopher reinforced the struggle for the incorporation of the twelve islands (Dodekanese) to Greece and contributed in the fraternization of Greek people of Africa. He is criticized by the history as the Patriarch of charity. Unfortunately he fell to judicial battles demanding the real estate of the Greek Community of Alexandria and of the other communities, as well. These cases not only finished unsuccessfully for the

Patriarchate but they also displeased a lot of people. Today there is not even the memory of these frictions but the damage has already been done. In its financial difficulty the Patriarchate asked help from the Patriarchate of Russia. Christopher was an educated man and left a very important literary work. As Bishop of Axum, he took care of the mis­sion in the area of his jurisdiction, in Ethiopia, Erithrea, Djibouti. It is of his honor that he abandoned his personal goods but his fragile health had been damaged since the 50's. He was ill incurably and unlucky he saw the decline of the Greek population in Egypt. During his patriarchate the Library celebrated its 1000 years, the Institute of the Eastern Studies was founded and the magazine "Analekta" was published as well. This magazine is today republished.

The Patriarchate of Alexandria during the patriarchy of his successor, Nicholas the 6th Varelopoulos (1968-1986) could not ever rise and it started to dwindle with its flock as the first victim. In 1972 the building of the Tositseio School in Alexandria was assigned. Until our days as the headquarters of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, the Patriarch's quar­ters, the administration, the Library, the Archives, the Register, the Vestry and the guests rooms etc. The cathedral of St. Savas was externally renovated in Alexandria, but not in the proper way according to its fame. Nicholas took care of the Tutelage of Cairo. He con­tinued, in a way, the tradition of publications of magazines and other relative ones.

In a period with a small flock, but with the rest of Africa in prospect, Parthenios, his secular name Aris Coinides, was elected Patriarch as Parthenios the 3rd, (1919-1996) from Carthage, a spiritual prelate. Known in the international Christianity of our days, mainly from his participation in the World Council of Churches. He was member there and later one of its presidents, whose presence left the strong stamp of friendship with the other Patriarchates, with the Roman Catholicism, the Protestants, the Copts and the Islam. With his literary works and with his international fame and validity raised the moral of the few Orthodox of Egypt and generally of Africa. He struggled hard, and with hope in a troublesome area. He believed, and this really happened, that there are hopeful possibilities for the missionary work of the orthodox to the people of Africa. But the means were very poor, and the help from abroad very weak, the will strong and the courage in full vigor. Comparing Orthodoxy in Africa, the Catholicism and the Protestants provide the mission with more and richer means.

Parthenios was a Patriarch, who, if he had been head of the church of Alexandria, in peak times, he would have done more positive and productive work. His regular visits to the orthodox flock of Africa and especially repeatedly, reinforced, in a way, the pop­ulation of the humble and the disdained Africans, when the Catholics and the Protestants played and are playing an important role in the same place, at the same time. He believed in the strength of the Africans, and in the fact that the future belongs to the convert of the continent to Christianity. That is why he ordained an African bish­op, the bishop of Uganda and Kabala Theodore Ngiama, and other priests. His great contribution was his faith in the dialogue with the Coptic Patriarchate of Egypt and the Muslims. With the last he had excellent relations. He helped from time to time, in the pacification, among the Orthodox churches with his respectful personality. He was a simple prelate, who charmed the flock, with whom he conversed for their daily affairs, in a humble and understanding way.


Except Alexandria and Cairo, where, the two big tutelage's of the Archdiocese have their headquarters until today. The following dioceses showed an excellent charitable and social activity:

Leontopolis With jurisdiction to the quarters Zagasik, Suez, Ismailia, Teoufik.
Pelousion With jurisdiction to the quarters of P. Sait, Mansoura, Kantara,

Damieti, Serbin, Verkas etc. Ermoupolis With jurisdiction to the quarters of Tanta, where Syrian-orthodox,

Benha, Mehalla Kebir, Sibin el Kom, Damanhour, Kafr, Zayat, Zeitoun.
Ptolemais With jurisdiction to the quarters Minia, Beni Souef, Fayoum, Asiout,

Asouan, Helouan. The diocese is abolished.

Axum With jurisdiction to the quarters of the towns of Ethiopia, Erythrea,

Somalia, Djibouti. Ioannoupolis With jurisdiction to the quarters of the South African Democracy,

Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanganyika, Rhodesia, Congo. Later the

diocese was reduced in the area of Johannesburg and Pretoria. Today

self-sufficient dioceses of Rhodesia, Zimbabwe and Central Africa

(today Zaire and then Congo).

Nubia With jurisdiction to the quarters of Sudan and Nubia.

Carthage With jurisdiction to the quarters of Libya, Tunis, Algeria, Morocco.

Memfis With jurisdiction to the suburbs of Cairo.

Today except of the dioceses above, (Ptolemais also excepted) there are the following as well:

The diocese of Cape Town in the town with the same name of South Africa. The diocese of Irinoupolis, today Kenya and Irinoupolis, in Nairobi. The diocese of Uganda and Kampala, in Kampala. The diocese of Accra, today Cameroon, in Jyaunde. The diocese of Zimbabwe ex- Rhodesia in Harare. The diocese of Dar EI Salaam in Tanzania.

Headquarters of Bishops who once were in peak from time to time now they just keep their names symbolically, these are: Tripolis in Libya (once diocese), Helioupolis, Cairo, Tamiatheos (Damieti), Arsinoi, Elefsis, Thivais, Nikopolis, Nitria, Mareotis, Babylon etc.


Between 1957 and 1962 the Greek people"of Egypt dwindled (today one thousand of Greeks in race live according to the most optimistic estimations). Development of popu­lation was observed only in countries of Africa, especially in the South African Democracy and in Zimbabwe, a phenomenon which exists till today. This happened because some thousands of Greeks moved to these countries. The same phenomenon was also noticed in two countries in Libya and in Zaire (ex and also recently Congo). But the

Greeks left from the last two soon because of social and political realignment.

So it is obvious why the Dioceses of Ioannoupolis and Cape Town (Good Hope) and Zimbabwe were developed. Hellenism is in development and success in these new dioce­ses with a new form that it takes in our days, of course, (after the reduction or the disap­pearance of another Hellenism outside Greece like that in Asia Minor, in Constantinople, in Pontos, in Egypt, in the Middle East and in South Africa).

The opposite happens with the dioceses of Carthage (Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco) and Sudan (Nubia), where the Greek colonies were developed and now they do not exist at all. The Dioceses of Axum (Ethiopia), of Cameroon, of Kenya and of Irinoupolis, of Uganda and of Kampala are in better condition. The missionary work in the name of Christ and of Orthodoxy these centuries, mentioned above, include the mis­sion and the Baptism of the Africans, an Orthodox flock but small in number yet. The Orthodox Church counts about 120.000 people, flock, in the African continent, compar­ing it with the 350 million Catholics and 380 million Protestants. The comparison is unequal and the efforts on an unfair base.

After the death of the Patriarch Parthenios the 3rd, the Alexandrian throne lost its prelate. The election of the Patriarch Peter the 7th, of today, in 1997 gives hopes to the Church of Alexandria. The headquarters of the Patriarchate are formed typically and in reality as much in Alexandria as in Cairo. The renewal is obvious with the solidarity of Greece and Egypt. The active Patriarch /does work very had renewing the whole Patriarchate in Africa and especially the Apostolic Orthodoxy. With good relations in the continent, in Greece, in Cyprus, in Europe, he renovates with the Holy Synod every mat­ter in charity and in ecclesiastical field.


The Patriarchate of Alexandria has already undertaken the difficult work of mission in Africa and especially this of Orthodoxy since the beginning of the 20th c. through the dio­ceses of Axum, Cameroon and of West Africa, of Kenya, Irinoupolis, Zimbabwe (ex Rhodesia) and recently of Uganda-Kampala.

The today's Greek Orthodox Church is activated as much as the circumstances permit to it: In the towns and areas of Cameroon Jyaunde, Duala and in the village Ecanga. In Tanzania, in Dar El Salaam. In Kenya, in Nairobi. In Kampala and in the vast expanses of Uganda. In Mozambique, in Madagascar. In Central Africa, in Zaire and elsewhere. The work is important in charitable limits. The ordination of the African clergy is a very important fact for all the above-mentioned areas. Its zenith the ordination of the African Theodore Niguiama, bishop of Uganda, who has served the Patriarchate there for many years. Remarkable also is the presence of the Orthodox Church in Ethiopia and in the countries round Djibouti and Erythrea and in all the central Africa. We notice a course of upward progress full of drive and strength. Beyond catechism, the baptism, the educa­tion and the ordination, a lot of the churches and cultural centres have been erected for years in Nairobi, Cameroon, Dar El Salaam, Zaire, Harare and the environs with the help of the Archdiocese of Cyprus and of the Orthodox Church of Finland. The missionary work is founded and reinforced with the working of the Theological seminary, in other words of a Theological Academy, Makarios the 3rd, which has its headquarters in Kenya and is in the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate.

MONUMENTS AND INSTITUTIONS Temples and other places of worship in antiquity

A lot of places of Christian worship are referred, which, undoubtedly constitute the monuments of Orthodoxy in the East in the long-lasting history of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.

1.- The Ptolemean temple, the Ceasarium (in the port of Alexandria), which was built by Cleopatra in honor of Antonio. The same temple later was dedicated to Caesar, it was changed in Christian and rededicated to the Archangel Michael by the emperor Constantine. St. Athanasios the Great renovated it.

2.- Other ancient pagan temples which changed in to Christian were for instance Serapion (in Rakoti), but also the churches of the early Christian time such as St. Alexander's, St. Dionisios', St. Theona's, St. Minas' and in Abu Kir (Kanopos) of St. Kyros and Ioannis the Anargyroi, as they are known (4th century).

3.- The Church of St. Minas (55km from Alexandria) was a famous Christian center. The early Christians were baptizing there. It was built in the center of the city. Its excava­tion started in the beginning of the 20th century by the German archaeologist Kaufmann, and is continued until our days by the German archaeologist Dr. Peter Grossmann. Next to the area of excavations there is the big Coptic monastery of St. Minas, a perfect, modern center with Copt monks.

4.- The famous and unique catacombs of Alexandria, undoubtedly, constituted places of worship, like other Christian necropolis mainly in the Upper Egypt, and in the Delta of Nile as well. They are two complexes of catacombs in the area between Karmouz and Minet el Basal (Alexandria), and in the area of Kom el Shougafa as well without fail. There were also cemeteries, places of worship in the antiquity, with different, more essential functionalism than today's. These were in the canal of Mahmoudia, near Mariut, and in the suburbs Ibraimia and Moustafa (always in Alexandria).

5.- The churches of St. Savas, as a convent in Alexandria, of St. George, as a convent in the Old Cairo, of St. Nicholas in Hamzaoui of Cairo, of St. Nicholas in Rosette (Rashid), and of St. Mark an ancient, early Christian church in Cairo were of great value for the worship of the Orthodox Christianity in Egypt and generally in the Middle East.

6.- A lot of convents were developed round Alexandria, which were destroyed by the Persians, many of them in 616, when they controlled Egypt for a decade. The same hap­pened with other convents in Mareotis Lake (Mariut). The ancient convents of Nitria are important too, in Wadi Natrun. Today the convents preserved are of the Syrian (Deir Suriani), of St. Psoi (Der Amba Bishoi), of St. Makarios (Deir Makarius), and of St. Paramonos (Deir Baramus), which four were devolved to the Copts, and many others as well.

During the early Christian times and in the Middle Ages the visitor met convents in the areas of Arsinois (near Suez, of Memfis, of Babylon of Cairo, of the ancient Oxyrichos, of the ancient Siinis (Assuan). Until today remarkable convents are preserved except of Nitria, which also belong tathe Coptic Patriarchate of Egypt, such as that of St. Anthony (Deer Addis Antwam) and of St. Paul (Der Mari Bolos) near the Red Sea.

There are churches and monuments outside Egypt and were built after the Arabic invention in Nubia, in Erythrea, in Ethiopia and in Libya that is in countries, where Christianity was accepted first, perhaps, from the influence of neighboring Egypt.

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