Beautiful Egypt 409 – «Against His Will» – 28/6/2021

Beautiful Egypt 409 – «Against His Will» – 28/6/2021

Last article tackled the hagiography of Pope Christodoulos, the 66th patriarch of Alexandria, the story of the wondrous tree of olives in Andalusia, and the arrival of Al-Agal Al-Afdal, the Prince of Armies at Egypt, restoring back stability after the distresses and adversities the people had passed through.

However, intrigues made against the father patriarch did not cease. A man called Ali Al-Qifti spread calumnies against him, claiming that Anba Boktor, the Metropolitan of Nubia as ordained by Pope Christodoulos, had demolished one of the mosques there. So the Prince of Armies ordered the arrest of the pope until discussing the issue, he sent one of his men who uncovered the false calumny. So the Prince of Armies called Pope Christodoulos to his council and honored him, whereas he brought Al-Qifti and confronted him with the accusations he had mentioned and Al-Qifti confessed his lies. Historians mention that the Prince of Armies brought the judges, witnesses and jurists, and asked them what to be done to the lying man, they issued a fatwa that he shall be killed. The Prince of Armies then asked the Pope about his judgment, but he answered: “Killing is not included in our doctrine, nor shall we reward evil by evil. Yet you are the Sultan, God and you only shall issue the judgment”. The Prince of Armies commanded the killing of Al-Qifti. The father patriarch had maintained a greater value in the eyes of the Prince of Armies as well as the senior ruling men in the country for his wisdom.

Pope Christodoulos is known for paying too much care to the ecclesiastical canons (as mentioned in Beautiful Egypt article 400).

Pope Christodoulos departed on Kiahk 14th (10/12/1077), in the 41st year of Al-Mustansir Billah’s caliphate. Historians disagreed concerning the year in which the pope departed; some stated it was 1076, while others saw it was 1075. Pope Christodoulos was buried first in the Hanging Church of Saint Virgin Mary at Old Cairo, then he was moved to the Monastery of Saint Macarius in Wadi Al- Natroun.

Pope Kyrillos II (1078- 1092)

The sixty seventh patriarch of Alexandria, after the departure of Pope Christodoulos, a number of Egypt’s bishops and priests, and some of Alexandria’s priests, as well as some chiefs at the Monastery of Saint Macarius; to select a father patriarch succeeding the departed pope, two months had passed in discussions and debates but in vain. So they went to the Monastery of Saint John the Short to take Anba Bassus to ordain him a patriarch, but he refused, and took stones to beat his chest!! He informed them that the patriarch to be chosen would be from the Monastery of Saint Macarius, saying: “I am the son of a Mamluk and you are making me a patriarch! Do not ask me, nor Makara the Emnot (“Emnot” is a Coptic word meaning gatekeeper; he meant the one in charge of the monastery gate) who has escaped from you and disappeared. Do not tire yourselves, for their patriarch is there in the (Iskina) (or Al-Iskini in Coptic, meaning “the dwelling place”) in the Monastery of Saint Macarius. They returned from the Monastery of Saint John the Short after their conversation with Anba Bassus, sent up prayers and supplications to God to guide them to whom He chose for this service, until their choice fell on monk Gerga at the Monastery of Saint Macarius; they took him against his will, while he was weeping, trying to escape from this heavy responsibility, but they did not leave him. He was taken to Alexandria, where he was ordained a patriarch in 1078 AD, during the era of Caliph Al-Mustansir.

Some historians mentioned that Pope Christodoulos had told a priest from Alexandria about a virtuous monk called Gerga, stating that he would be his successor patriarch. The biographer of Pope Christodoulos also mentioned that the Pope, during the presence of priest Gerga one day, anointed him with holy oil on his forehead, and told to him: “Aitehck (in Coptic aitehck), which means: I have anointed you.”

After the ordination of Pope Kyrillos II, he and those with him went to Egypt, where the chiefs had prepared a boat for him to take him in a royal procession, from the Church of Archangel Michael in Rawda to Egypt, where a large crowd of Copts welcomed him, and took his Blessings, then … And stories in beautiful Egypt never end!

The General Bishop

Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center