Heraklas of Alexandria

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Heraklas of Alexandria was the thirteenth Bishop of Alexandria, serving from 232 to 248. He was the first bishop of Alexandria to be referred to as “Pope”.

Life

Heraklas was born about the year 180. He was a convert to Christianity with his brother Plutarch by Origen while they attended the Catechetical School of Alexandria as students. Heraklas and his brother Plutarch were among the first students of the young Origen. As the increasing number of students began to weigh on Origen’s time, he appointed Heraklas his assistant as a teacher of new students. After Origen left Alexandria for Caesarea, Heraklas served as Origen’s successor as head of the Catechetical School. Heraklas was ordained a priest by the Bishop Demetrius of Alexandria. In 231, Origen, while in Caesarea, was condemned by Demetrius.

Soon, with the death of Demetrius, Heraklas succeeded as bishop of Alexandria. When Origen returned to Alexandria, Heraklas deposed and banished him. Dionysius, who had succeeded Heraklas as head of the Catechetical School, noted the custom used by Heraklas who received repentant heretics back into the Church without rebaptism, but only after a public examination of their conduct.

Pope

Historically, the title Pope has been associated with the see of Alexandria since the time of Pope Heraklas. The first known record noting the use of the title of Pope as associated with Heraklas was in a letter written by Pope Dionysius to Philemon, in which he said: I received this rule and ordinance from our blessed pope, Heraklas. This use was some three centuries before the title “Pope” was first used by John I, Bishop of Rome, who reigned from 523 to 526.

Succession box:
Heraklas of Alexandria
Preceded by:
Demetrius
Bishop of Alexandria
232-248
Succeeded by:
Dionysius
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