The Holy PriestMartyr Peter, Archbishop of Alexandria

Commemorated on November 25 (November 24 by Greek Calendar)

      The Holy PriestMartyr Peter, Archbishop of Alexandria, was born and raised at Alexandria. He was a man highly educated, and occupied the position of head of the Alexandria school. In the year 300 he entered upon the guiding of the Alexandria Church, succeeding his teacher and spiritual guide, Blessed Bishop Theonas. Banished from the city during the time of the persecutions against Christians under the emperors Diocletian and Maximian, Saint Peter, being awhile in many imperial districts, again returned to his native city, in order to personally head the Alexandrian Church in this dangerous period. The saint secretly visited the Christians locked up in prison, encouraging steadfastness of faith in them, assisting the widows and orphans, preaching the Word of God, constantly praying and making Divine-services. And the Lord kept him safe out of the hands of the persecutors. During this time of unrest to further unsettle the Church of Church there arose the impious teaching of the heretic Arius, who denied the Divinity of Jesus Christ. Saint Peter came out against him, he condemned the heretic and excommunicated him from the Church. And even then, when Arius through the students of Saint Peter besought the saint to lift the excommunication from him, asserting that he had repented and given up on his false teachings, Saint Peter, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, saw through the falsity and deceit of the renunciation of Arius, and so he instructed his flock not to believe Arius nor to accept him into churchly communion.
      Under the wise nurturing of Saint Peter the Alexandria Church strengthened and grew, in spite of the persecutions. But finally, on orders from the emperor Maximian (305‑311), the saint as arrested and sentenced to death. A multitude of people gathered at the entrance of the prison, expressing their outrage. Wanting to avoid bloodshed and a riot by the people, the saint sent a message to the authorities, in which he offered to cooperate with them in knocking down a back wall of the prison, so that he might be taken away secretly from the people, to execution. In the dark of the night Saint Peter went forward to the executioners, who took him beyond the city walls and beheaded him at the selfsame spot, where formerly the holy Disciple Mark had been executed, and there was heard a Voice from the heavens, heard by a certain pious virgin that night, exclaiming: "Peter first of the Apostles, Peter last of the Alexandrian Martyrs". This occurred in the year 311. In the morning, having learned of the death of their bishop, a throng of people gathered at the place of execution, they took up the body and head of the martyr went off to the church, putting on him his bishop's vestments, they put him in the altar at the high place during the time of the funeral service. During his life Saint Peter sat only beneathe it, since in the words of the saint, he beheld a Divine light, encircling the high place, and dared not through humility to enter it.
      Saint Peter, a great champion of Orthodoxy, is known also as a profound theologian. Passages from his book, "On the Divinity (of Jesus Christ)", were taken into account at the Ephesus and Chalcedon Councils. From his works the most widely known and highly esteemed by the Church are the "Penitential Canons".

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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The Holy PriestMartyr Peter,
Archbishop of Alexandria

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