Peter III Mongus

PETER III MONGUS

The twenty-seventh patriarch of the See of Saint Mark (480-488). Peter III, surnamed Mongus (the Greek term for stammerer), was elected Monophysite head of the Coptic Church in succession to TIMOTHY II AELURUS, against rivals who upheld the diophysite dictates of the Council of CHALCEDON (451), notably Timothy Salofaciolus, the Chalcedonian patriarch. In his early years, Peter was made deacon by DIOSCORUS I, whom he had followed to the Latrocinium (or Robber Council), the second COUNCIL OF EPHESUS held in August 449.

There, Peter joined an attack on Flavian, the archbishop of Constantinople, which led to Flavian’s deposition and his replacement by Proterius. Peter was one of Dioscorus’ supporters at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 where Dioscorus was victimized and the Monophysite split occurred. Peter was also a supporter of monophysitism during the reign of Timothy Aelurus.

Subsequently, Peter was enthroned in the Alexandrian diocese. However, Emperor Zeno refused to ratify his election until he accepted the HENOTICON, which was Zeno’s formula, devised in 482, to bridge the gap between monophysitism and the Orthodox profession of Chalcedon.

Peter’s acceptance of Zeno’s doctrine displeased the extremist monophysites among the Coptic monks and clergy. Peter’s attempt to placate both parties by interpreting the Henoticon to suit each side, irked Acacius, patriarch of Constantinople. Acacius erased Peter’s name from the Greek diptych as a preliminary measure to his deposition, a step averted only by Peter’s death.

AZIZ S. ATIYA

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