Posted in MARTYRS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 26 November – St Peter of Alexandria (Died 311) Martyr “The Seal of the Martyrs”

Saint of the Day – 26 November – St Peter of Alexandria (Died 311) Martyr “The Seal of the Martyrs” Bishop of Alexandria.   Tradition attests that the Egyptian Bishop, St Peter, was the last believer to suffer death at the hands of Roman imperial authorities for his faith in Christ.   For this reason, St. Peter of Alexandria is known as the “Seal of the Martyrs.”   He is said to have undertaken severe penances for the sake of the suffering Church during his lifetime and written letters of encouragement to those in prison, before going to his death at the close of the “era of the martyrs.”Alexandria_26November

Both the date of Peter’s birth and of his ordination as a priest, are unknown.   It is clear, however, that he was chosen to lead Egypt’s main Catholic community in the year 300 after the death of Saint Theonas of Alexandria.   He may have previously been in charge of Alexandria’s well-known catechetical school, an important centre of religious instruction in the early Church.   Peter’s own theological writings were cited in a later fifth-century dispute over Christ’s divinity and humanity.

In 302, the Emperor Diocletian and his subordinate Maximian attempted to wipe out the Church in the territories of the Roman Empire.   They used their authority to destroy Church properties, imprison and torture believers and eventually kill those who refused to take part in pagan ceremonies.   As the Bishop of Alexandria, Peter offered spiritual support to those who faced these penalties, encouraging them to hold to their faith without compromise.

One acute problem for the Church during this period was the situation of the “lapsed.” These were Catholics who had violated their faith by participating in pagan rites under coercion but who later repented and sought to be reconciled to the Church.   Peter issued canonical directions for addressing their various situations and these guidelines became an important part of the Eastern Christian tradition for centuries afterwards.

Around the year 306, Peter led a council that deposed Bishop Meletius of Lycopolis, a member of the Catholic hierarchy who had allegedly offered sacrifice to a pagan idol. Peter left his diocese for reasons of safety during some portions of the persecution, giving Meletius an opening to set himself up as his rival and lead a schismatic church in the area.

The “Meletian schism” would continue to trouble the Church for years after the death of Alexandria’s legitimate bishop. Saint Athanasius, who led the Alexandrian Church during a later period in the fourth century, claimed that Meletius personally betrayed Peter of Alexandria to the state authorities during the Diocletian persecution.

Although Diocletian himself chose to resign his rule in in 305, persecution continued under Maximinus Daia, who assumed leadership of the Roman Empire’s eastern half in 310.   The early Church historian Eusebius attests that Maximinus, during an imperial visit to Alexandria, unexpectedly ordered its bishop to be seized and killed without imprisonment or trial in 311.   Three priests – Faustus, Dio, and Ammonius – were reportedly beheaded along with him.

St Peter of Alexandria’s entry in the “History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria” (a volume first compiled by a Coptic Orthodox bishop in the 10th century) concludes with a description of the aftermath of his death –

“And the city was in confusion, and was greatly disturbed, when the people beheld this martyr of the Lord Christ.   Then the chief men of the city came and wrapped his body in the leathern mat on which he used to sleep and they took him to the church … And, when the liturgy had been performed, they buried him with the fathers.   May his prayers be with us and all those that are baptised!”Clement-Peter

Author:

Passionate Catholic. Being Catholic is a way of life - a love affair both with God and Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, our most Blessed and Beloved Virgin Mother Mary and the Church. "Religion must be like the air we breathe..."- St John Bosco With the Saints, we "serve the Lord with one consent and serve the Lord with one pure language, not indeed to draw them forth from their secure dwelling-places, not superstitiously to honour them, or wilfully to rely on the, ... but silently to contemplate them for edification, thereby encouraging our faith, enlivening our patience..." Blessed John Henry Newman Prayer is what the world needs combined with the example of our lives which testify to the Light of Christ. This site will mainly concentrate on Daily Prayers, Novenas and the Memorials and Feast Days of our friends in Heaven, the Saints who went before us and the great blessings the Church provides in our Catholic Monthly Devotions. "For the saints are sent to us by God as so many sermons. We do not use them, it is they who move us and lead us, to where we had not expected to go.” Charles Cardinal Journet (1891-1975) This is a papal fidelity site. Loyal and Obedient to the Current Pope and to the Magisterium United With Him.

One thought on “Saint of the Day – 26 November – St Peter of Alexandria (Died 311) Martyr “The Seal of the Martyrs”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s