CYRIL III IBN LAQLAQ
The seventy-fifth patriarch of the See of Saint Mark (1235-1243). Cyril, known as Ibn Laqlaq before his investiture, was called Dawud ibn Yuhanna ibn Laqlaq al-Fayyumi, indicating that he was originally a native of the city of al-Fayyum in Upper Egypt. His date of birth is unknown, and his ascension to the throne of Saint Mark in peculiar circumstances came to pass after an interregnum of nineteen years, during which the patriarchal seat remained vacant.
In the end, Dawud, who was well connected with the Ayyubid administration through Ibn al-Miqat, the Coptic chief scribe of the sultan, prevailed on the caliph to issue a special decree appointing him patriarch without any regard to the normal democratic Coptic procedure used to choose the head of the church. This aroused fierce opposition in Coptic circles, and a procession was to go to the citadel where Sultan al-Kamil (1218-1238) resided and to protest against such an appointment.
Since the appointment decree was issued by al-‘Adil (1200-1218) without consulting the Copts, it was decided to keep that decree in abeyance until a council of bishops, clergy, and Coptic ARCHONS had reviewed the situation. At last, however, Dawud was able to manipulate the council and emerge as the winner.
Cyril III needed large funds, partly to enable him to pay the caliphal court for its support of his case. He raised the money by applying the simoniacal practice of CHEIROTONIA and by the sale of the empty episcopal seats to the highest bidders. Many of these seats had fallen vacant during the long interregnum. This practice alarmed the community of the faithful, who protested against the practices.
The rebellious congregation found a leader for their opposition movement in the person of a monk named ‘Imad (Hamid) of Dayr Anba Maqar. The movement was further strengthened by a Coptic archon named Saniy al-Dawlah ibn al- Thu‘ban, who insisted that Cyril was pope only by bribery and corruption, and he raised serious doubts about the legality of Cyril’s ordination.
In light of these circumstances, it was decided to hold a general council of the clergy and the archons to look into the situation and make recommendations. The Islamic administration of the country favored the suggestion, and Sultan al-Malik al-Salih Najm al-Din Ayyub (1239-1249) took the initiative and summoned that council where, according to al-MAQRIZI, the Islamic historian of the Copts, the patriarch was sharply criticized.
Nevertheless, Cyril, who prevailed upon the Coptic scribes of the administration while bribing the caliphal court with 12,000 dinars, was able to swing the verdict in his favor. In this way, the opposition to the patriarchal party was stifled, and Cyril was able to hold his own and rule the church in his way and in relative peace until his death in 1243. His reign lasted seven years, nine months, and ten days, and he was buried in Dayr al-Sham‘ at Giza.
It is noteworthy that the HISTORY OF THE PATRIARCHS curtailed his biography to a single page and that Coptic authors of the period, such as ABU AL-MAKARIM, the famous thirteenth- century historian of the churches and monasteries in Egypt, overlooked his name completely. In fact, Cyril is better remembered for an edificatory work entitled Book of the Master and the Pupil, which consists of fifty-five discourses of a moralistic character.
He was a contemporary of the sultans al-Kamil (1218-1238), al-‘Adil II (1238-1239), and al-Salih Najm al-Din (1239-1249), thus being contemporaneous with the decline and fall of the Ayyubid dynasty. After his death, the throne of Saint Mark remained vacant for more than seven years before the community found a successor in the person of ATHANASIUS III.
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SUBHI Y. LABIB