Last article began talking about Pope Youhanna V, the seventy-second patriarch of Alexandria, who was chosen unanimously, he was contemporary of Minister RadwanibnWalakhshi during the days of Caliph Al-Hafiz, Caliph Al-Zafir, as well as Minister Al-Adel ibn Al-Sallar.
In those days, it came to happen that the King of Abyssinia requested a metropolitan to be ordained for his country, despite the presence of a metropolitan then named Anba Mikhail. Yet a dispute had arisen between the king, who unlawfullyseized the kingship and the father metropolitan. Historian Severus Ibn al-Muqaffa states: “When they both had a conversation, the king got angry and requested another metropolitan to be ordained, because the king had unjustly overpowered the kingdom, so the metropolitan reprimanded him. So the king sent a letter to the sultan, and Al-Adel ibn al-Sallar was a minister at that time, and also he sent a letter to the Patriarch requesting another metropolitan- while the metropolitan then was still alive”. The father patriarch refused and explained to the minister that the Christian law prohibits ordaining a metropolitan for a city or a town unless its metropolitan in position is dead, only after his death, another should be ordained . Thus, Al-Adel ibn Al-Sallar got angry at the patriarch and commanded his arrest in the prison of the Ministry House. Pope Youhanna V suffered severe distress in that prison and remained imprisoned until Minister Al-Adel was killed.
Pope Youhanna V also witnessed the murder of Caliph Al-Zafir and the succession of Al-FaezBedin Allah, and the ministry of Talae’ ibnRuzaik, in whose days, Bishop Makaraof Samanoudgossiped about some father monks from the Monastery of Saint Macarius who were residing with their spiritual father named Salmon. Once hearing this, the patriarch took a stance against those monks, and the disputes reached the minister, who gathered all the complaining parties to discuss the matter. There, disagreements arouse and the father patriarch was expelled out of the meeting, then he was arrested, and the minister caused several hardships and distresses to the bishops. The biographer of the patriarch states that God – blessed be His name- revealed a miracle witnessed by those who were with the patriarch during his arrest. He says: “The father patriarch was constantly fasting, praying and supplicating to God as was his custom, and one night he fell asleep, then he said to the people around him: Be strengthened with God, and rejoice! After a few days, God will release you and me.” Pope Youhanna V’s words were fulfilled, as the minister was subjected to an assassination attempt fourteen days later, and he was carried wounded to his home then died. His son Majd al-Islam ordered the release of the father patriarch and all those with him in prison, and the bishops’ distress caused by the high fines imposed on them was also abolished.
It came to happen after the death of Caliph Al-Faez, Caliph Al-Adid Li-Din Allah took over the caliphate, appointing Ruzaik bin Talaei as a minister, untilShawar bin Mujir Al-Saadi seized the ministry, then fled to Damascus seeking the help of King Al-Adel Nur Al-Din, who sentShirkuh and his nephew Salah al-Din.
Moreover, the days of Pope Youhanna V witnessed a lot of troubles that the Copts of Egypt suffered, then affairs settled down a little, driving the senior Copts to start restoring the churches that had been demolished. Asad al-Din Shirkuh was still in Egypt then, so Minister Shawarsent to the King of the Franks seeking his aid to fight Shirkuh, who departed to the Upper Egypt. The Franks’ forces and Shawarchased Shirkuh, and the two sides fought ferociously that many were killed and captured. Shirkuh then took refuge in Alexandria until he returned to Cairo to seize it. After many incidents, Shawar sent money to Shirkuhwho returned to his country (previous articles have dealt with these incidents in detail).
Pope Youhanna V departed in 1167 AD, he was buried in the Church of Saint Martyr Mercurius beside the body of his preceding patriarch, Pope Ghabrial II. It is mentioned that some people had talked with Pope Youhanna V before his death concerning the translocation of Pope Ghabrial II’s body to the Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great at Wadi Al-Natron, but he answered them saying that someone would come and move their two bodies together- this was indeed fulfilled in the days of his succeeding patriarch, Pope MorcosIbnZaraa. And… Stories about beautiful Egypt never end!
The General Bishop
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center