Last article tackled some incidents occurred during the era of Pope Ghabrial II: a severe war broke out between the soldiers and the Sudanese in Atfih, Egypt’s Copts suffered from Radwan bin Walakhshi, the Minister of Egypt, the country was impacted by the decrease in the Nile level, the King of Abyssinia wanted to ordain a new bishop for his country, so he sent a letter to the caliph, asking him to intervene with Pope Ghabrial in the ordination, but the Pope apologized and rejected the violation of ecclesiastical laws. The ecclesiastical historian SawirisIbn al-Muqaffawrites about the biographer of the Pope Patriarch: “The patriarch wrote a deterrent letter to the king of Abyssinia, and ordered him to retreat from what he asked for and sent the letter to him. When the patriarch’s messengers returned from Abyssinia, they were told that fire descended from heaven on the king’s palace and it burned parts of it, then the country of Abyssinia was hit by a great rise in prices during that year, a great epidemic, shortage of rains, and they endured great suffering because of these conditions. So, the king accepted the patriarch’s letter and returned to God, and wrote to the caliph of Egypt asking him to ask the patriarch absolve him, bless him and his country” He continues, “So he wrote this letter and sent it to him, so God lifted up His wrath at that hour when the letter reached them and bestowed His mercy upon them…”
During the days of Pope Ghabrial II, Bishop Michael of Sahrajt (Meet Ghamr Center), renewed the church of Saint George in MinyatZefta, but some people took over it claiming that it was a new building created by the Copts. So, the bishop asked the minister to restore it, proved it to be ancient and it restored it back after severe hardship and a large fine paid.
Pope Ghabrial II was subjected to internal troubles; one of the monks at“Abu Kama Monastery”slandered the monks to Caliph Al-Hafiz, accusing them falsely of having knowledge that would enable them to know what would happen to kings, how to overcome states, and collecting money, gold and silver, violating the commandments of the Bible and the teachings of Lord Christ, he accused them as well of having a crystal waterwheel, owned by no king all over the world! When Al-Hafiz heard these matters, he ordered to send soldiers and clerks with that monk, who, as per the biographer: “took them and went to WadiHabib (Wadi Al-Natrun) and gave them power over the monks; they insulted themonks, burned them, fined them, plundered them, damaged their work, they suffered great distress.” Then they took some of the old monks to Cairo to the Caliph, who realized the false words the complaining monk had said; so he was kind to them and ordered them to be returned to their monasteries in peace. As for that monk who spread lies and slander, he died after great hardships befallen him.
Pope Ghabrial II departed in 1145 AD after a short illness period, he sat on the See of Saint Mark for 14 years and few months, he was succeeded by Pope Mikhail III
Pope Mikhail III (1145- 1146)
He is the seventy first patriarch of Alexandria. The bishops met to choose a patriarch for the See of St. Mark, but they did not come to agreement; one of the monks called Yoannis bin Kadran resisted them with three bishops in order to achieve his desire in assuming the position of patriarchate, but the bishops of Alexandria and Upper Egypt refused to ordain him. After discussions and negotiations, all the bishops agreed to choose three monks and elect one of them for the Patriarchate: Youannis bin Abi Al-Fath, Mikhail from the monastery of AbiYehnes, known as Al-Daqadousi, and Sulaiman bin Al-Djanadi from Al-Baramousmonastery. Their names were written and placed in the sanctuary, and prayers were held for three consecutive days, then they brought a child to pick up one of the names, so the lot gave the name of Monk Mikhail, it was said about him, “An old man with a good countenance, a shape of dignity and chastity, a pure saint, but he was neither a scholar nor did he taught himself books reading”. He did not know how to read and write, whether in Coptic or Arabic, and… Stories about beautiful Egypt never end!
The General Bishop
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center