Last article began tackling Pope Ghabrial II, the seventieth patriarch of the See of St. Mark of Alexandria, who was ordained in 1131 AD, during the caliphate of Al-Hafiz Li-Din Allah.
In the days of this father patriarch, a ferocious war broke out between the soldiers and the Sudanese in Atfih, in which many people were killed, and Prince Hassan, the son of the Caliph Al-Hafiz, arrested Pope Ghabrial II and imprisoned him until the clerks of the court and merchants collected money to release him; he was released from the prison only when the prince was paid a thousand dinars.
During the days of this patriarch, Radwan bin Walakhshi took over the Ministry of Egypt, and the Copts suffered greatly from him, the cost of living raised so highly that people could not find food, while he sold red rice, black beans, rotten grains, wheat, and some kind of wheat that the Egyptians called “Al-Denuki” which means, “moldy because of its oldness”!
Among the great calamities of that time was the Nile River ceasing to rise, until the country was impacted and the land dried up; Historian BishopSawirisIbn al-Muqaffastates: “A similar thing happened in 534 AH (1140 AD), as the Nile decreased beneath fourteen cubits, so prices raised highly driving the country towards drying up (from the lack of irrigation), so people were severely harmed due to the dryness of the country.”
Pope Ghabrial II ordained fifty-three bishops, refusing to receive any money for their ordination, following the commandment of his Lord Christ: “Freely you have received, freely give” believing that God’s grace and gift shall not be sold. It was said about him, “He used to receive nothing for ordaining bishops, nor did he recommend others to receive money… He was so strict in this issue, he wrote a declaration forbidding giving or receiving money”.
It was reported about Pope Ghabrial II that a priest called Baqira offered him money to ordain him as the bishop of Akhmim but he refused, so the priest sought the help of the Crown Prince, the son of CaliphAl-Hafiz Li DeenAllah, gave him a lot of money, asking him to mediate for him with the patriarch in order to ordain him a bishop; it was stated: “So the crown prince sent to the Pope, and he heavily laid pressure on him, but the pope refused and apologized to him, then he wrote to the Caliph: informing him of the story of the bishop who asked for leadership and the priesthood by bribery, and that this is impermissible in Christianity. When Al-Hafiz received this, he thanked and glorified the pope, and signed to him that he would never object his doctrine and that no one would force him to do what is impermissible in his law…” However, Pope Ghabrial II wanted to win the soul of that priest, so he ordained him after a whilefor a different chair than the one he asked for himself. As for the money the priest had, it was spent in the building of “Deir al-Sham’a” and others.
During the days of Pope Ghabrial II, the King of Abyssinia sent a letter to the pope and another to the Caliph, requesting the ordination of a father bishop in addition to the seven bishops who were ordained in Abyssinia, in an attempt to be independent from the mother Coptic Church, but Pope Gabriel refused his request. The King of Abyssinia did not cease to attempt, so he sent a gift and another letter to the Caliph, asking him to intervene with Pope Ghabrial in the issue of ordination of a bishop for Abyssinia. So the Caliph summoned Pope Ghabrial and asked him to fulfill the wish of the King of Abyssinia. However, the patriarch apologized to the Caliph, explaining that accepting this would only result in the Church of Abyssinia getting separated from the mother Egyptian Church, so the Caliph was convinced and accepted his excuse. Father MenassaYouhannaquotes what was mentioned in “Al-Muqtataf” magazine, quoting from the book “Lobab Al-Adaab” regarding that incident: “It happened that…” And stories about beautiful Egypt never end!
The General Bishop
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center