Meletius I Pegas of Alexandria

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His All-Holiness Meletius I Pegas (Greek: Μελέτιος Πηγάς) was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 1590 to 1601. He vigorously opposed the Union of Brest-Litovsk in correspondence with the Polish king. He also served as locum tenens to the throne of the Church of Constantinople.


Meletius was born in Candia (Iraklion) on the Venetian controlled island of Crete in 1549. He studied classical philology, philosophy, and medicine in Padua, in Italy, and then later in Venice, before returning to Crete. There he entered a monastic life. In Candia, on Crete he became a monastic superior. Later, he was sent into exile and eventually, after 1575, entered into the service of the Orthodox patriarchal courts at Alexandria and Constantinople.

In 1590, Meletius was enthroned Patriarch of Alexandria and became involved in maintaining the position and prestige of Orthodoxy in the middle east and eastern Europe. This he did through theological debates and ecclesiastical diplomacy. He participated in a number of councils including those of Constantinople in 1593 and 1597. At the 1593 council, Meletius was among those who ratified the formation of the Patriarchate of Moscow. He vigorously opposed the negotiations by Orthodox with the Roman Catholic Church in the Polish held areas bordering Russia that led to the Union of Brest-Litovsk. In correspondence with King Sigismund III of Poland, he denied the claims of papal supremacy. He also wrote against the Roman formulation of the filioque.

In 1593, Patr. Meletius ordained the promising twenty-one year old Cyril Lucaris as deacon and then as priest. During the years of 1597 and 1598, Meletius was also the locum tenens for the throne of the Patriarch of Constantinople.

At the time, Roman Catholic Jesuits in the Middle East asserted a strong influence on the Coptic Church to recognize the primacy of the Pope of Rome, drawing the Coptic Patriarch Gabriel VIII and one of his Chorepiscopi to this belief. Through his persuasive arguments, Patr. Meletius was able to bring the Coptic Christians to change their mind and break off all contact with the Roman Catholic Church. Meletius had also endeavored to bring about a rapprochement between the Coptic and the Orthodox communities, but was unsuccessful.

Patr. Meletius was also scholar with a complete command of the Greek, Latin, and Italian languages who also left thousands of letters and many important theological works. Meletius reposed on September 14, 1601 in Alexandria and was succeeded by his protege Cyril Lucaris who was elected his successor as Cyril III.

Succession box:
Meletius I Pegas of Alexandria
Preceded by:
Patriarch of Alexandria
Succeeded by:
Cyril III
Preceded by:
Theophanes I Karykes
Patriarch of Constantinople
locum tenens

Succeeded by:
Matthew II
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