Pope Dionysius of Alexandria

Saint Dionysius of Alexandria, named "the Great," 14th Pope of Alexandria & Patriarch of the See of St. Mark from 28 December 248 until his death on 22 March 264, after seventeen years as a bishop. Most known information about him comes from Dionysius' large surviving correspondence. Only one original letter survives to this day; the remaining letters are excerpted in the works of Eusebius.

Called "the Great" by Eusebius, St. Basil, and others, he was characterized by the Catholic Encyclopedia as "undoubtedly, after St. Cyprian, the most eminent bishop of the third century... like St. Cyprian, less a great theologian than a great administrator."[2]

Saint

Dionysius the Great
Pope of Alexandria & Patriarch of the See of St. Mark
Dionisii alek
Pope Dionysius the Great
Papacy began28 December 248
Papacy ended22 March 264
PredecessorHeraclas
SuccessorMaximus
Personal details
BornAlexandria, Egypt
Died22 March 264
Egypt
BuriedChurch of the Cave, Alexandria
NationalityEgyptian
DenominationCoptic [1] (Before the Split from the rest of the Orthodox Church.)
Alma materCatechetical School of Alexandria
Sainthood
Feast day17 November
Venerated inRoman Catholicism
Eastern Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy
Title as SaintMartyr

Early life

Dionysius was born to a wealthy polytheistic family sometime in the late 2nd, or early 3rd century. He spent most of his life reading books and carefully studying the traditions of polytheists. He converted to Christianity at a mature age and discussed his conversion experience with Philemon, a presbyter of Pope Sixtus II.[2] Dionysius converted to Christianity when he received a vision sent from God; in it he was commanded to vigorously study the heresies facing the Christian Church so that he could refute them through doctrinal study. After his conversion, he joined the Catechetical School of Alexandria and was a student of Origen and Pope Heraclas. He eventually became leader of the school and presbyter of the Christian church, succeeding Pope Heraclas in 231. Later he became Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria & Patriarch of the See of St. Mark in 248 after the death of Pope Heraclas.[2]

Work as Bishop of Alexandria

Dionysius was more an able administrator than a great theologian.[2] Information on his work as Bishop of Alexandria is found in Dionysius' correspondence with other bishops and clergymen of the third century Christian Church. Dionysius’ correspondences included interpretations on the Gospel of Luke, the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation.

During 249, a major persecution was carried out in Alexandria by a polytheist mob, and hundreds were assaulted, stoned, burned or cut down on account of their refusal to deny their faith. Dionysius managed to survive this persecution and the civil war that followed. In January 250 the new emperor Decius issued a decree of legal persecution. Out of fear many Christians denied their faith by offering a token polytheist sacrifice, while others attempted to obtain false documents affirming their sacrifice. Others who refused to sacrifice faced public ridicule and shame among their family and friends, and, if found by the authorities, brutal torture and execution. Many fled from the city into the desert, where most succumbed to exposure, hunger, thirst, or attacks by bandits or wild animals.[3]

Dionysius himself was pursued by the prefect Sabinus, who had sent out an assassin to murder him on sight. Dionysius spent three days in hiding before departing on the fourth night of the Decian decree with his servants and other loyal brethren. After a brush with a group of soldiers, he managed to escape with two of his followers, and set up a residence in the Libyan desert until the end of the persecution the following year.[3]

He supported Pope Cornelius in the controversy of 251, arising when Novatian, a learned presbyter of the Church at Rome, set up a schismatic church with a rigorist position on the readmittance of Christians who had apostasized during the persecution. In opposition to Novatian's teaching, Dionysius ordered that the Eucharist should be refused to no one who asked it at the hour of death, even those who had previously lapsed.[4]

In 252 an outbreak of plague ravaged Alexandria, and Dionysius, along with other priests and deacons, took it upon themselves to assist the sick and dying.[3]

The persecutions subsided somewhat under Trebonianus Gallus, but were renewed under Valerian who replaced Gallus. Dionysius was imprisoned and then exiled. When Gallienus, took over the empire he released all the believers who were in prison and brought back those in exile. Gallienus wrote to Dionysius and the bishops a letter to assure their safety in opening the churches.[5]

Prophetic exegesis

About AD 255 a dispute arose concerning the millennialist views taught in Refutation of Allegorists, by Nepos, a bishop in Egypt, which insisted on the interpretation of Revelation Chapter 20 as denoting a literal "millennium of bodily luxury" on earth. Because he was taught by Origen, Dionysius succeeded through his oral and written efforts in checking this Egyptian revival of millennialism. He offered some critical grounds to reject the Book of Revelation, such as an alleged difference in style and diction from John's Gospel and Epistles. Dionysius main position was to claim it was not written by John: " 'I could not venture to reject the book, as many brethren hold it in high esteem,' " yet he ascribed it to another John - some "holy and inspired man" - but not the apostle John.[6]

His impact was felt in later years concerning the canonicity of the Apocalypse, causing much dialogue in the church, lingering in the East for several centuries. Thus it was that certain leaders began to retreat from millennialism in precisely the same quantity as philosophical theology became influential.[7]

Legacy

St. Basil writes to Pope Damasus speaking of aid sent by Pope St. Dionysius, to the church at Caesarea. This correspondence is cited by Pope Pius IX in his encyclical Praedecessores Nostros (On Aid For Ireland) of 25 March 1847.[8]

Footnotes

  1. ^ Eusebius of Caesarea, the author of Ecclesiastical History in the 4th century, states that Saint Mark came to Egypt in the first or third year of the reign of Emperor Claudius, i.e. 41 or 43 A.D. "Two Thousand years of Coptic Christianity" Otto F. A. Meinardus p28.
  2. ^ a b c d Chapman, John. "Dionysius of Alexandria." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 6 Apr. 2013
  3. ^ a b c "Saint Dionysius", The College of Saint Dionysius
  4. ^ Butler, Alban. Lives of the Saints, Vol. XI, 1866
  5. ^ "The Story of Abba Dionysius", Coptic Orthodox Church
  6. ^ Eusebius. "25". Church History. 7. p. 309.
  7. ^ Froom 1950, pp. 325–326.
  8. ^ Pope Pius IX, Praedecessors Nostros, 25 March 1847

References

External links

Titles of the Great Christian Church
Preceded by
Heraclas
Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria
248—264
Succeeded by
Maximus
Book of Revelation

The Book of Revelation, often called the Revelation to John, the Apocalypse of John, The Revelation, or simply Revelation, the Revelation of Jesus Christ (from its opening words) or the Apocalypse (and often misquoted as Revelations), is the final book of the New Testament, and therefore also the final book of the Christian Bible. It occupies a central place in Christian eschatology. Its title is derived from the first word of the text, written in Koine Greek: apokalypsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation" (before title pages and titles, books were commonly known by the incipit, their first words, as is also the case of the Hebrew Five Books of Moses (Torah)). The Book of Revelation is the only apocalyptic document in the New Testament canon (although there are short apocalyptic passages in various places in the Gospels and the Epistles).The author names himself in the text as "John", but his precise identity remains a point of academic debate. Second-century Christian writers such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Melito the bishop of Sardis, and Clement of Alexandria and the author of the Muratorian fragment identify John the Apostle as the "John" of Revelation. Modern scholarship generally takes a different view, and many consider that nothing can be known about the author except that he was a Christian prophet. Some modern scholars characterise Revelation's author as a putative figure whom they call "John of Patmos". The bulk of traditional sources date the book to the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian (AD 81–96), and the evidence tends to confirm this.The book spans three literary genres: the epistolary, the apocalyptic, and the prophetic. It begins with John, on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea, addressing a letter to the "Seven Churches of Asia". He then describes a series of prophetic visions, including figures such as the Seven Headed Dragon, The Serpent and the Beast, culminating in the Second Coming of Jesus.

The obscure and extravagant imagery has led to a wide variety of Christian interpretations: historicist interpretations see in Revelation a broad view of history; preterist interpretations treat Revelation as mostly referring to the events of the apostolic era (1st century), or, at the latest, the fall of the Roman Empire; futurists believe that Revelation describes future events, the seven churches growing into the body/believers throughout the age, and a reemergence or continuous rule of a Roman/Graeco system with modern capabilities described by John in ways familiar to him; and idealist or symbolic interpretations consider that Revelation does not refer to actual people or events, but is an allegory of the spiritual path and the ongoing struggle between good and evil.

Chapel of St Apolline, Guernsey

The Chapel of St Apolline, La Grande Rue, Saint Saviour, Guernsey is a protected building and historic monument. Constructed in the 14th century, it is still in regular use for worship. The Chapel has stood virtually unchanged for over 600 years.

Dionysius

The name Dionysius (; Greek: Διονύσιος Dionū́sios, "of Dionysus"; Latin: Dionȳsius) was common in classical and post-classical times. Etymologically it is a nominalized adjective formed with a -ios suffix from the stem Dionys- of the name of the Greek god, Dionysus, parallel to Apollon-ios from Apollon, with meanings of Dionysos' and Apollo's, etc. The exact beliefs attendant on the original assignment of such names remain unknown.

Regardless of the language of origin of Dionysos and Apollon, the -ios/-ius suffix is associated with a full range of endings of the first and second declension in the Greek and Latin languages. The names may thus appear in ancient writing in any of their cases. Dionysios itself refers only to males. The feminine version of the name is Dionysia, nominative case, in both Greek and Latin. The name of the plant and the festival, Dionysia, is the neuter plural nominative, which looks the same in English from both languages. Dionysiou is the masculine and neuter genitive case of the Greek second declension. Dionysias is not the -ios suffix.

Although in most cases transmuted, the name remains in many modern languages, such as English Dennis (Denys, Denis, Denise). The latter names have lost the suffix altogether, using Old French methods of marking the feminine, Denise. The modern Greek (closest to the original) is Dionysios or Dionysis. The Spanish is Dionisio. The Italian is Dionigi and last name, Dionisi. Like Caesar in secular contexts, Dionysius sometimes became a title in religious contexts; for example, Dionysius was the episcopal title of the primates of Malankara Church (founded by Apostle Thomas in India) from 1765 until the amalgamation of that title with Catholicos of the East in 1934.

Of Alexandria

This article lists people, events and other subjects which are referred to as "of Alexandria".

Origen

Origen of Alexandria (c. 184 – c. 253), also known as Origen Adamantius, was an early Christian scholar, ascetic, and theologian who was born and spent the first half of his career in Alexandria. He was a prolific writer who wrote roughly 2,000 treatises in multiple branches of theology, including textual criticism, biblical exegesis and biblical hermeneutics, homiletics, and spirituality. He was one of the most influential figures in early Christian theology, apologetics, and asceticism. He has been described as "the greatest genius the early church ever produced".Origen sought martyrdom with his father at a young age, but was prevented from turning himself in to the authorities by his mother. When he was eighteen years old, Origen became a catechist at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. He devoted himself to his studies and adopted an ascetic lifestyle as both a vegetarian and teetotaler. He came into conflict with Demetrius, the bishop of Alexandria, in 231 after he was ordained as a presbyter by his friend, the bishop of Caesarea, while on a journey to Athens through Palestine. Demetrius condemned Origen for insubordination and accused him of having castrated himself and of having taught that even Satan would eventually attain salvation, an accusation which Origen himself vehemently denied. Origen founded the Christian School of Caesarea, where he taught logic, cosmology, natural history, and theology, and became regarded by the churches of Palestine and Arabia as the ultimate authority on all matters of theology. He was tortured for his faith during the Decian persecution in 250 and died three to four years later from his injuries.

Origen was able to produce a massive quantity of writings due to the patronage of his close friend Ambrose, who provided him with a team of secretaries to copy his works, making him one of the most prolific writers in all of antiquity. His treatise On the First Principles systematically laid out the principles of Christian theology and became the foundation for later theological writings. He also authored Contra Celsum, the most influential work of early Christian apologetics, in which he defended Christianity against the pagan philosopher Celsus, one of its foremost early critics. Origen produced the Hexapla, the first critical edition of the Hebrew Bible, which contained the original Hebrew text as well as five different Greek translations of it, all written in columns, side-by-side. He wrote hundreds of homilies covering almost the entire Bible, interpreting many passages as allegorical. Origen taught that, before the creation of the material universe, God had created the souls of all the intelligent beings. These souls, at first fully devoted to God, fell away from him and were given physical bodies. Origen was the first to propose the ransom theory of atonement in its fully developed form and, though he was probably a Subordinationist, he also significantly contributed to the development of the concept of the Trinity. Origen hoped that all people might eventually attain salvation, but was always careful to maintain that this was only speculation. He defended free will and advocated Christian pacifism.

Origen is a Church Father and is widely regarded as one of the most important Christian theologians of all time. His teachings were especially influential in the east, with Athanasius of Alexandria and the three Cappadocian Fathers being among his most devoted followers. Argument over the orthodoxy of Origen's teachings spawned the First Origenist Crisis in the late fourth century AD, in which he was attacked by Epiphanius of Salamis and Jerome, but defended by Tyrannius Rufinus and John of Jerusalem. In 543, the emperor Justinian I condemned him as a heretic and ordered all his writings to be burned. The Second Council of Constantinople in 553 may have anathemized Origen, or it may have only condemned certain heretical teachings which claimed to be derived from Origen. His teachings on the pre-existence of souls were rejected by the Church.

Parabalani

The Parabalani (Late Latin parabalānī "persons who risk their lives as nurses", from Ancient Greek: παραβαλανεῖς) or Parabolani (from παραβολᾶνοι or παράβολοι) were the members of a brotherhood who in early Christianity voluntarily undertook the care of the sick and the burial of the dead knowing they could die.

Generally drawn from the lower strata of society, they also functioned as attendants to local bishops and were sometimes used by them as bodyguards and in violent clashes with their opponents.

Patriarch of Alexandria

The Patriarch of Alexandria is the archbishop of Alexandria, Egypt. Historically, this office has included the designation "pope" (etymologically "Father", like "Abbot").The Alexandrian episcopate was revered as one of the three major episcopal sees (along with Rome and Antioch) before Constantinople or Jerusalem were granted similar status (in 381 and 451, respectively). Alexandria was elevated to de facto archiepiscopal status by the Councils of Alexandria, and this status was ratified by Canon Six of the First Council of Nicaea, which stipulated that all the Egyptian episcopal provinces were subject to the metropolitan see of Alexandria (already the prevailing custom). In the sixth century, these five archbishops were formally granted the title of "patriarch" and were subsequently known as the Pentarchy.Due to several schisms within Christianity, the title of the Patriarch of Alexandria is currently held by four persons belonging to different denominations: the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and all the East and the Coptic Catholic Patriarchate of Alexandria. It was also previously held by the Latin Patriarch of Alexandria. Each of those denominations consider their patriarch as the successor to the original early bishops of Alexandria.

Pope (word)

Pope is a title traditionally accorded to the Bishop of Rome, the Coptic and Greek Orthodox Bishop of Alexandria, and some autocratic leaders of other ecclesial communities. Popes may also claim the title Patriarch. Both terms come from a word for father.

Pope Dionysius

Pope Dionysius can also refer to Pope Dionysius of Alexandria.Pope Dionysius (died 26 December 268) served as the Bishop of Rome or Pope from 22 July 259 to his death in 268. His task was to reorganize the Roman church, after the persecutions of the Emperor Valerian I and the edict of toleration by his successor Gallienus. He also helped rebuild the churches of Cappadocia, devastated by the marauding Goths.

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (Greek: Διονύσιος ὁ Ἀρεοπαγίτης), also known as Pseudo-Denys, was a Christian theologian and philosopher of the late 5th to early 6th century, who wrote a set of works known as the Corpus Areopagiticum or Corpus Dionysiacum.

The author pseudonymously identifies himself in the corpus as "Dionysios", portraying himself as Dionysius the Areopagite, the Athenian convert of Paul the Apostle mentioned in Acts 17:34. This false attribution to the earliest decades of Christianity resulted in the work being given great authority in subsequent theological writing in both East and West.

The Dionysian writings and their mystical teaching were universally accepted throughout the East, amongst both Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians, and also had a strong impact in later medieval western mysticism, most notably Meister Eckhart. Its influence decreased in the West with the fifteenth-century demonstration of its later dating, but in recent decades, interest has increased again in the Corpus Areopagiticum.

Ptolemais, Cyrenaica

Ptolemais (Greek: Πτολεμαΐς) was one of the five cities that formed the Pentapolis of Cyrenaica, the others being Cyrene, Euesperides (later Berenice, and now Benghazi), Tauchira/Teuchira (later Arsinoe, and now Tocra), and Apollonia (now Susa).Its ruins are at a small village in modern Libya called Tolmeita (Arabic طلميتة), after the ancient name.

Saracen

Saracen was a term widely used among Christian writers in Europe during the Middle Ages to refer to Arab Muslims. The term's meaning evolved during its history. In the early centuries of the Common Era, Greek and Latin writings used this term to refer to the people who lived in desert areas in and near the Roman province of Arabia Petraea, and in Arabia Deserta. In Europe during the Early Middle Ages, the term came to be associated with tribes of Arabia. The oldest source mentioning the term Saracen dates back to the 7th century. It was found in Doctrina Jacobi, a commentary that discussed the event of the Arab conquests on Palestine.By the 12th century, Saracen had become synonymous with Muslim in Medieval Latin literature. Such expansion in the meaning of the term had begun centuries earlier among the Byzantine Greeks, as evidenced in documents from the 8th century. In the Western languages before the 16th century, Saracen was commonly used to refer to Muslim Arabs, and the words Muslim and Islam were generally not used (with a few isolated exceptions). The term became gradually obsolete following the Age of Discovery.

Third Epistle of John

The Third Epistle of John, often referred to as Third John and written 3 John or III John, is the antepenultimate book of the New Testament and attributed to John the Evangelist, traditionally thought to be the author of the Gospel of John and the other two epistles of John. The Third Epistle of John is a private letter composed to a man named Gaius, recommending to him a group of Christians led by Demetrius, which had come to preach the gospel in the area where Gaius lived. The purpose of the letter is to encourage and strengthen Gaius, and to warn him against Diotrephes, who refuses to cooperate with the author of the letter.

Early church literature contains no mention of the epistle, with the first reference to it appearing in the middle of the third century. This lack of documentation, though likely due to the extreme brevity of the epistle, caused early church writers to doubt its authenticity until the early 5th century, when it was accepted into the canon along with the other two epistles of John. The language of 3 John echoes that of the Gospel of John, which is conventionally dated to around AD 90, so the epistle was likely written near the end of the first century. Others contest this view, such as the scholar John A. T. Robinson, who dates 3 John to c. AD 60–65. The location of writing is unknown, but tradition places it in Ephesus. The epistle is found in many of the oldest New Testament manuscripts, and its text is free of major discrepancies or textual variants.

Patriarchs prior to the
Chalcedonian schism
(43–451)
Coptic Orthodox
Popes and Patriarchs

(451–present)
Greek Orthodox Popes and Patriarchs
(451–present)
Latin Catholic Patriarchs
(1276 –1954)
Melkite Catholic Titular Patriarchs
(1724–present)
Coptic Catholic Patriarchs
(1824–present)

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