Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Consubstantial with the Father

St. Athanasius, the great champion of the Faith was born at Alexandria, about the year 296, of Christian parents. Educated under the eye of Alexander, later Bishop of his native city, he made great progress in learning and virtue. In 313, Alexander succeeded Achillas in the Patriarchal See, and two years later St. Athanasius went to the desert to spend some time in retreat with St. Anthony.

In 319, he became a deacon, and even in this capacity he was called upon to take an active part against the rising heresy of Arius, an ambitious priest of the Alexandrian Church who denied the Divinity of Christ. This was to be the life struggle of St. Athanasius.

In 325, he assisted his Bishop at the Council of Nicaea, where his influence began to be felt. Five months later Alexander died. On his death bed he recommended St. Athanasius as his successor. In consequence of this, Athanasius was unanimously elected Patriarch in 326.

His refusal to tolerate the Arian heresy was the cause of many trials and persecutions for St. Athanasius. He spent seventeen of the forty-six years of his episcopate in exile. After a life of virtue and suffering, this intrepid champion of the Catholic Faith, the greatest man of his time, died in peace on May 2, 373. St. Athanasius was a Bishop and Doctor of the Church. –



Anonymous kms said...

Can you explain Patriarch? I don't know what that means in terms of Catholic hierarchy. (Higher than a bishop? In charge of what?)

Thanks, Fr. L!

6:54 AM  
Blogger rev fr lw gonzales said...

Patriarch as specific to Athanasius per Wikipedia:

The Patriarch of Alexandria is the Archbishop of Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt. Historically, this office has included the designation of Pope (etymologically 'Father', like Abbot etc.), and did so earlier than that of the Bishop of Rome. The first Bishop to be called Pope was the thirteenth Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria Pope Heraclas.

At first, it was an Episcopate, that was revered as one of the five most ancient Episcopates, known as the Pentarchy. It was, de facto, elevated to an Archiepiscopal status by the local Alexandrine Council on the one hand and it was then regulated by canon law of the First Ecumenical Council stipulating that all the Egyptian episcopal and metropolitan provinces be subjected to this Metropolitan See of Alexandria, as was already the prevailing custom.

Acknowledged as a Patriarchate by the time of the Third Ecumenical Council, which was officially ratified by the Fourth Ecumenical Council. The title Pope was originally used in a capacity of an appelation rather than a title and eventually it became a title, but contrary to the Pope of Rome, the Pope of Alexandria had no distinction in his Papal/Pontifical and Patriarchal titles. They were used together in the same capacity and this dual title did not put him on a higher ecclesiastical/hierarchical level than the other Patriarchs of the Pentarchy. Also the use of the title by the Roman Bishop did not restrict it to himself or deprive it from his Alexandrian colleague.

According to church tradition, the Patriarchate was founded in 42 by the Apostle Saint Mark the Evangelist. All churches acknowledge the same succession of church leaders up to about the dividing Council of Chalcedon 451.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous kms said...

Clear as mud. If the Patriarch at Alexandria was the first to be called Pope, and there were five episcopates that made up the Pentarchy, and then there was a pope of rome and a pope of alexandria....where was the chair of Peter? Who was THE Pope?

Be kind, I know very little. :-)

1:28 PM  
Blogger rev fr lw gonzales said...


Tough questions. I started to research and was bogged down by 2000 yrs of ecclesiastical history. I'll get back to you.

2:19 PM  
Anonymous kms said...

Okay, I feel better. I thought I was just stupid. :-)

5:20 PM  

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