Saint of the Day – 26 February – St Alexander of Alexandria (Died c 326) Bishop of Alexandria, Confessor, Defender of the True Faith against heresies, in particular the Arians. Born in the 3rd Century in northern Egypt and died on 26 February c 326 at Alexandria, Egypt. Also known as – Alessandro di Alessandria.
The Roman Martyrology states of him today: “At Alexandria, the Bishop St Alexander, an aged man held in great honour who was a successor of the blessed Peter as Bishop of the City. He expelled from the Church, Arius, one of his Priests, tainted with heretical impiety and convicted by Divine Truth and, subsequently, was one of the three hundred and eighteen Fathers, who condemned him at the Council of Nicea.”
He was a man of apostolic doctrine and life, mild, affable, exceedingly charitable to the poor and full of faith, zeal and fervour.
St Alexander was made Bishop of Alexandria in 313. He was a disciple of the previous Bishop St Peter the Martyr and had heard the warnings the great Bishop made in prison about the Deacon Arius. Alexander led an untiring battle against this heretic, preparing the way for St Athanasius.
Arius was a tall man of a grave imposing appearance. He attracted confidence by his amiable manner and agreeable conversation. He lived austerely, assumed a penitent air and showed an apparent zeal for religion. With a broad but superficial knowledge of profane literature and the ecclesiastical sciences, he was a subtle and persuasive dialectician. However, under this exterior show of virtue was a man of melancholy, turbulence, ambition and a taste for novelties. After he was Ordained Priest and charged with teaching Scriptures, he could not contain his vanity and titled himself illustrious. After the death of St Achillas, Bishop of Alexandria, Arius aspired to his See. When Alexander was chosen, Arius became his enemy. It was about this time that Arius began to teach his bad doctrine and recruit followers.
Alexander, concerned about the spreading of this heresy and finding Arius obstinate and incorrigible, excommunicated him from the Diocese of Alexandria. The heretic went to Palestine where he received the support of various Bishops, especially Eusebius of Nicomedia. There he began a campaign of intrigues against his adversaries.
The Council of Nicea in 325 condemned Arius and his doctrines. In that famous assembly of Bishops, one of the high luminaries was our Saint, Alexander. St Athanasius, who had accompanied Alexander, was also present as a Deacon. Alexander returned to Alexandria, where he died several years later, after naming St Athanasius as his successor. Having dedicated his life to gloriously fighting in defence of the Church, he delivered his soul to the Lord in c 326.