Archdiocese of Leontopolis
The Holy Archdiocese of Leontopolis and Augustamnica Secunda and the Red Sea is a diocese under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa. Its territory includes the parishes and missions located in the nation of Egypt, in the area of Ismailia (its seat), Suez, and Zagzik.
Leontopolis was a capital city of Egypt between the 9th century BC and the 7th century AD. The city received this name because during its Pagan era lions were worshiped in temples. Christianity reached the region in the 4th century, when Leontopolis was localized in the Roman province of Augustamnica. Its first known bishop, Ischyron, was mentioned during the times of Saint Athanasius (328–373). Metrodorus and Januarius are recorded respectively in the councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon. In the beginning of the 6th century, the province was divided and Leontopolis became the capital and archbishopric of Augustamnica Secunda (II). Its only known archbishop was Theodore in the times of Patriarch Apollinarius (551–569).
Between 640 and 641, Augustamnica was conquered by the Muslims. The [Christian] population was forced to pay increasing monthly taxes if they did not convert to Islamism. Caliph Omar (634–644) expelled the Orthodox clergymen and favored the Coptic heretics to bring back Miaphysitism to the population. By the end of the 7th century, the taxes were so high that the Christians were deprived of all their money, and their children had to be sold as slaves to the caliph. This way, Christianity virtually ended in Lower Egypt.
The modern see of Leontopolis was founded in 1908 together with the other four patriarchal archdioceses of Ptolemais in Egypt, Aksum in Ethiopia, Pilousion in Egypt and Nubia in Sudan. Prior to 1908, the only archbishopric of the Alexandrian Church in Ottoman Africa was the titular Archdiocese of Lybia, which took care of all Greek and Levantine Arab ethnic communities dispersed all over the littoral of the continent. These communities consisted mainly of Orthodox merchants.
- Ancient bishops
- Ischyron (4th c.)
- Metrodorus (fl. 431)
- Januarius (fl. 451)
- Theodore (fl. c. 560)
(suppressed in the 7th century following the Islamic conquest of Egypt)
- Modern bishops
- Sophronios (Efstratiadis) 1908–1914
- Christophoros (Daniilidis) 1914–1939
- Konstantinos (Katsarakis) 1939–1976
- Nikodimos (Galiatsatos) 1976–1980
- Joachim (Balasakis) 1983–1987
- Titus (Karantzalis) 1988–1997
- Dionysios (Hatzivasiliou) 1997–2012
- Gabriel (Raftopoulos) 2012–Present