Timothy II Aelurus of Alexandria

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Timothy II Aelurus of Alexandria was a Monophysite, non-Chalcedonian, patriarch of the Church of Alexandria who occupied the patriarchal throne from 457 to 460 and from 475 to 477. As an intruder he occupied the throne in 454. He is commemorated in the Coptic Synaxarion on the 12th day of Amshir.


Timothy Aelurus began his career as a monk in Alexandria under Patr. Dioscorus, rising to be ordained a priest. After Dioscorus was deposed as Patriarch of Alexandria at the Council of Chalcedon and was succeeded by Patr. Proterius, Timothy was himself deposed and exiled to Libya. After the death of emperor Marcian, Timothy returned to Alexandria in January 457 and began a practice of "creeping" among the cells of some monks at night, addressing them by name and saying "i am an angel, sent to warn you to break off communion with Proterius and choose Timothy as bishop". Through these acts he acquired the epithet Aelurus, in Greek Αίλυρος - cat.

With a group of compatriots, Timothy took possession of the main church during the latter part of the Great Lent and then by two bishops, who had been deposed and exiled by Patr. Proterius and his synod, was consecrated and then self-enthroned himself while Proterius was with his clergy at his residence. After, quickly performing many episcopal acts, he was exiled by the "dux" Dionysius. Apparently in revenge, his supporters hunted down Patr. Proterius in the baptistry and murdered him.

With the death of Patr. Proterius, Timothy returned to Alexandria and immediately attacked the Chalcedonians as being in effect Nestorianizers, and on this basis broke off communion with Rome, Constantinople, and Antioch. Further, he denounced the bishops of Alexandria who accepted the Council of Chalcedon. He also sent letters to the cities and monasteries of the patriarchate prohibiting their communicating with the denounced bishops and the clergy ordained by them.

In the face of his actions, the targeted bishops fled Alexandria to present their cases to emperor Leo I and patriarch in Constantinople. These were followed by bishops sent by Timothy to plead his cause that he and Alexandria held firm to the Nicene Creed, but do not accept the council and requested the summons of a new council. Leo, in turn, sent the memorials presented to him to the other patriarchs, 55 other bishops, and the leading monastics for their opinions concerning Timothy's case. They almost unanimously condemned Timothy. In mid 460, emperor Leo directed Stilas, the "dux" in Alexandria, to expel Timothy and to convene the election of an Orthodox patriarch.

Timothy then proceeded to Constantinople claiming his adoption of the Chalcedon doctrine and so by hoped to retain his see. On June 17, 460, Leo I of Rome wrote to emperor Leo and Patr. Gennadius of Constantinople urging that Timothy was disqualified for having "invaded so great a see during the lifetime of its bishop". Then, Timothy was again exiled, first to Gangra and then to Chersonese.

The Church of Alexandria was ruled peacefully for sixteen years under Patr. Timothy III Salofacioius. In late 475, the new emperor Basiliscus, who had usurped the imperial throne from emperor Zeno, called Timothy Aelurus to Constantinople, who, while warmly welcomed by his admirers, was forbidden entry to the churches by Patr. Acacius of Constantinople. Basiliscus, however, recognized him as the rightful bishop of Alexandria and condemned "the innovation in the faith which was made at Chalcedon". The Eutychians of Constantinople, however, were met with disappointment when Timothy said he accepted the statement Cyril had adopted at his reunion with John of Antioch that "the Incarnate Word was consubstantial with us, according to the flesh".

When Timothy Aelurus arrived back at Alexandria, he resumed the cathedra, while the kindly and popular Timothy Salofacioius retired to his monastery in the Alexandria suburb called Canopus. Timothy Aelurus remained the patriarch for only a few years, reposing in late 477.

Succession box:
Timothy II Aelurus of Alexandria
Preceded by:
Patriarch of Alexandria

Succeeded by:

{{succession| before=Proterius title=Patriarch of Alexandria| years=457-460| after=Timothy Salofacioius}

Preceded by:
Timothy Salofacioius
Patriarch of Alexandria
Succeeded by:
Timothy Salofacioius
Help with box


  • Henry Wace, D.D. & William C. Piercy Eds., A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography, Timotheus, called Aelurus, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., ISBN: 1-56563-460-8
  • Wikipedia:Pope_Timothy_II_of_Alexandria
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