Copts At The Council Of Florence (1439-1443)


This council was an unsuccessful attempt to bridge the gap between Rome on one side and the Copts and the Ethiopians on the other. In September 1440, Pope Eugenius IV sent the Franciscan friar Albertus to Cairo to meet Coptic Patriarch John XI. The latter gave Albertus a letter to Pope Eugenius in which he appointed Andrew, abbot of the Monastery of St. Antony, to represent the Copts in the Council of Florence. On 4 February 1442 at the Church of Santa Maria Novella, the Latin text of the bull (papal correspondence) of the union with the Copts was read out, followed by an Arabic translation.

The bull was signed by Pope Eugenius IV, 20 cardinals, and 51 prelates. Andrew signed the Arabic text in the name of the Jacobites and his patriarch. The Council of Chalcedon was accepted, together with several other later councils. The bull commanded the Copts to obey all ways and adhere faithfully to the Apostolic See. The Copts understood this as a reunion of equal partners. However, the act of the union remained in abeyance, for the rejection of the Council of Chalcedon had been an essential part of the Coptic dogma for a millennium.


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