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December 31, 2020 - Kiahk 22, 1737

Departure of St. Anastasius, the Thirty-Sixth Pope of Alexandria

On this day also of the year 611 A.D., St. Anastasius, 36th Pope of Alexandria, departed. He was one of the great noblemen of Alexandria. Before he became a Pope, he was an overseer of the patriarchal court, then he became a priest for the church of Alexandria. Shortly afterwards, he was chosen to be Pope. He devoted much of his attention to the churches and he ordained bishops and priests to fill the vacant posts. He built several churches and regained from the Melkites (those who were appointed by the Roman Emperor) those that they took over by force. Because he was loved by them for his knowledge, virtues and righteousness, he brought many of them back to the Orthodox faith. When the Emperor of Constantinople died, some wicked people spoke evil of the Pope to his successor, that when the Pope was ordained he anathematized (excommunicated) the Emperor and his belief. The Emperor was enraged and sent to the Governor of Alexandria, commanding him to take the church of St. Cosmas and St. Damian and all its properties by force and to give it to the Roman Patriarch Ologius. St. Anastasius was exceedingly sad, but the Lord comforted him in another matter. Peter, the heretic, Bishop of Antioch, died. A well informed saintly monk called Athanasius of the Orthodox Faith was ordained in his place. As soon as Athanasius became Patriarch, he renewed the union between the Church of Antioch and the Church of Alexandria. He wrote an epistle, stating in it his Orthodox faith, and sent it to St. Anastasius, who rejoiced and gathered the bishops and the priests and read it to them. He wrote back to Abba Athanasius indicating his desire to see him.

Abba Athanasius went to Alexandria with his bishops and priests. When Abba Anastasius learned of his arrival, as he was in Scetis, he departed to Alexandria. He went directly to the sea along with the bishops and priests to receive Abba Athanasius and welcome him to Alexandria with great respect and honor. They held a council in one of the monasteries that was at the sea coast, which lasted one month, to discuss the doctrines of the church. Then, the Antiochian Patriarch went back to his See in peace. St. Anastasius continued to teach his flock in person and through his books. Because of his great knowledge, he was able to write a book every year. He remained on his throne for 12 years, 6 months and 10 days. During this period, he wrote twelve books and gave them the Coptic alphabet as titles. His first book was Alpha (&), his second was Beta (B) and so on, then he departed in peace. May His prayers be with us and glory be to our God forever. Amen