Proterius of Alexandria

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Our father among the saints, Hieromartyr Proterius of Alexandria was patriarch of the Church of Alexandria from 451 to 457. He was murdered by partisans of Patr. Timothy II Aelurus, apparently in revenge for his deposition. St. Proterius is commemorated on February 28.


The early life of Patr. Proterius is unknown. He was a priest in Alexandria during the patriarchal tenure of Dioscorus who remained in charge of the church when Dioscorus went to the Fourth Ecumenical Council in 451. After Dioscorus was deposed for adherence to Monophysitism by the council, emperor Marcian ordered a new election to the see. In 452, the council of bishops of Alexandria and chief laymen after much difficulty, as a majority in Alexandria still considered Dioscorus their rightful pope, elected Proterius as their patriarch. However, the passions of the non-Chaldedonian and Chaldedonian parties broke out into a tumultuous dissension. The accession of Proterius marked the beginning of the schism between the non-Chaldedonian Coptic Orthodox and the Orthodox patriarchs of Alexandria that has never been completely resolved.

Patr. Proterius had troubles with his own clergy. Not long after the council a priest named Timothy and a deacon named Peter (nicknamed Mongus) refused to communicate with him because in his diptychs he ignored Dioscorus and commemorated the council of Chalcedon. When Patr. Proterius summoned them to return to duty, they refused, for which he pronounced their deposition in synod. In January 457, after emperor Marcian died the Monophysites thought they saw an opportunity. Some Egyptian bishops renewed their outcry against the council and Timothy, having returned to Alexandria, began those intrigues which won him his title of Aelurus - "the Cat."

While the "dux" Dionysius was absent from Alexandria in Upper Egypt, Timothy gather a following of non-Chaldedonians and obtained an irregular consecration as patriarch. However, after Dionysius returned Timothy was exiled and in revenge his partisans rushed to the residence of Proterius and murdered him with six of his clergy. His martyrdom came on Pascha Day, March 31, 457.

Succession box:
Proterius of Alexandria
Preceded by:
Dioscorus I
Patriarch of Alexandria
Succeeded by:
Timothy II Aelurus
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