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Pope Damian of Alexandria was Coptic Pope of Alexandria (569 - 605). He is regarded as a saint by the Coptic Orthodox Church, with a feast day of 18 Ba'unah.

He became a monk in his early years in the desert of Scete. He continued to fight and to devote himself to God for sixteen years. He was ordained a deacon in the monastery of St. John the Short. Then he went to the monastery of the fathers which is to the west of Alexandria, and there he increased his asceticism.

When Pope Peter (34) was enthroned on the See of St. Mark, he brought and appointed Damianos a private secretary. Damianos pursued a good course of life and everyone loved him. When Pope Peter departed, the bishop unanimously agreed to ordain him a patriarch. He was enthroned a patriarch on the second of Abib 285 A.M. (June 26, 569 A.D.). He cared for his flock well and he wrote many epistles and discourses.

In the wilderness of Scete, there were some followers of Melitius El-Assyuty, who drank wine a few times during the night before they intended to partake of the Holy Communion. They claimed that the Lord Christ gave to His disciples two cups: the first He did not say, "This is My Blood" but when he gave them the second cup he said, "This is My Blood." St. Damianos showed them their error. He clarified to them that the first cup was the cup of the Jewish passover, and He nullified it with the second cup. He also told them that the canons of the church ban those that eat before communion from partaking of the Holy Eucharist. Some of them turned from their evil, but those that did not turn from their evil council were driven out of the wilderness. When Anba Theophanius, the Antiochian Patriarch departed, they ordained a successor to him called Peter, who sent a letter to Pope Damianos which said, "There is no need for us to say that God is the three Persons." When Pope Damianos read this letter he became enkindled with zeal. He wrote him a letter which explained that God is, in no doubt, one in His Godhead, one in essence, but He is Three persons, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, One God. He wrote to him many testimonies from the Holy Scriptures and from the sayings of the holy fathers. Nevertheless, Peter refused to return to the truth, and insisted on his error. Pope Damianos ordered that his name not be mentioned in the Divine Liturgy for twenty years until the heretic died.

Pope Damianos remained for thirty five years, eleven month, and sixteen days, teaching and preaching to his flock. He departed at a good old age.

Preceded by
Dorotheos
Coptic Pope
569–605
Succeeded by
Anastasius
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Pope Damian of Alexandria was the 35th Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria (reigned 569 - 605). He is regarded as a saint by the Coptic Orthodox Church, with a feast day of 18 Ba'unah, that is, 25 June.

Originally from Syria, where his brother was a prefect in Edessa[1], he became a monk in his early years and spent sixteen years in the Egyptian desert of Scete, where he was ordained a deacon in the monastery of St. John the Short. Afterward, he went to a monastery near Alexandria and continued to practice asceticism.

When Pope Peter IV of Alexandria was enthroned on the See of St. Mark, he made Damian a private secretary, during which Damian earned much esteem for his goodness. After Peter's death in 569,[clarification needed some texts give this date as 577; are there two different calendars in play?] the bishops unanimously agreed to ordain him a patriarch. In addition to pastoring the church, he wrote many epistles and discourses, including a reaffirmation of the miaphysite and non-Chalcedonian views.[1] He reigned for almost thirty-six years.

Controversies

While serving as Patriarch, Damian performed some controversial actions in trying to complete his predecessor's attempt to depose Patriarch Paul II of Antioch by traveling secretly to Antioch to install a replacement Patriarch. Although this action did not have the support of all the Syrian bishops, Damian had enough support to convene a meeting and choose a replacement. However, the Chalcedonian patriarch, probably Gregory of Antioch, discovered the plan and prevented it, forcing Damian and his colleagues to flee.[1] Damian then went to Constantinople, where he consecrated some bishops and took part in a church council, which he later repudiated.[1]

The Synaxarium entry for Damian recounts the following two theological controversies in which he was involved:[2]

  • The first involved some followers of Melitius El-Assyuty who drank wine before Communion, claiming that Jesus had given the disciples two cups at the Last Supper and that only for the second did he say "This is My Blood." Damian explained that the first cup was the cup of the Jewish passover, which Jesus nullified with the second cup. Damian also informed them that the church canons ban those that eat before communion from partaking of the Eucharist. Damian's counsel persuaded some, but those who rejected his teaching were driven away.
  • The second involves Damian's dialogue with Patriarch Peter of Antioch, in which Damian accused his colleague of tritheism and was in turn accused of Sabellianism. Although Damian pulled support for his understanding of the Trinity from the Bible and from the teaching of the early church fathers, he was never able to persuade Peter and, as a result, he ordered that Peter's name not be mentioned in the Divine Liturgy while Peter remained alive. The schism between the Alexandrian and Antiochene churches lasted for almost a decade after Damian's death.[1]

Damian was very active in fighting views that he considered heretical, including not only tritheism, but also the Chalcedonians, Pope Leo's Tome, Bishop Julian of Halicarnassus, the Agnoetae, the Meletians, the Acephali, the Gaianites (supporters of a rival to Theodosius I), Stephen of Alexandria and Paul of Beth Ukame.[1] Although most of Damian's writings are lost, he did influence many writers in his own time, such as John of Parallos, who, like Damian, focused on combating heresy.[1]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Alois Grillmeier, Theresia Hainthaler, O.C. Dean, Christ in Christian Tradition, Vol.2, Pt.4, pp.75-81.
  2. ^ "The Departure of St. Damianos", Synaxarium readings at the Coptic Orthodox Church Network, accessed 20 July 2010.

See also

Preceded by
Dorotheos
Coptic Pope
569–605
Succeeded by
Anastasius

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