The thirty-fourth patriarch of the See of Saint Mark.
Although the HISTORY OF THE PATRIARCHS gives the dates of 567-569 for Peter’s patriarchy, some sources begin his term at 575 (see Maspero, 1923, p. 212). The death of the patriarch THEODOSIUS I in 567 was followed by nine years of confusion, during which several claimants, including the Gaianite Christopher and the tritheist Athanasius tried in vain to secure possession of the see.
The hierarchy was threatened with extinction. In response to an appeal from Alexandria, in 575 Bishop LONGINUS came down from Nubia to Mareotis. Assuming that the choice was left to him, he selected one Theodorus, abbot of a desert monastery, and with two Syrian bishops consecrated him. The Alexandrian clergy protested, and selected Peter, an old monk from the ENATON monastery near the capital.
They recruited an Egyptian bishop of somewhat dubious status (John “of the Cells”) and two visitors for his consecration. Views still differ as to which choice was the more irregular, but the question was solved practically by the general acceptance of Peter in Egypt. According to critics, he was a feeble old deacon who chose seventy bishops more quickly than one could have found seventy plowmen.
But he seems in fact to have been of some distinction—deacon in the household of Theodosius at Constantinople and later priest at Alexandria—and there need have been no shortage of suitable candidates for the vacant dioceses. In any case, Peter’s vigorous action secured the episcopal succession. Theodorus was willing to retire to an Alexandrian monastery, although Longinus tried for some years to secure his recognition at Constantinople and elsewhere.
- Brehier, L. “Les Successeurs de Justinien et l’Eglise.” In Histoire de l’Eglise, ed. A. Fliche and V. Martin, Vol. 4, pp. 483-90. Paris, 1937.
- Brooks, E. W. “The Patriarch Paul of Antioch and the Alexandrian Schism of 575.” Byzantinische Zeitschrift 30 (1919-1930):468-76.
- Frend, W. H. C. The Rise of the Monophysite Movement, p. 327. Cambridge, 1972.
- Hardy, E. R. Christian Egypt, pp. 149-52. New York, 1952.
- Honigmann, E. Evêques et Evêchés monophysites. CSCO 127, subsidia 2, pp. 224-35. Louvain, 1951.
- Maspero, J. Histoire des patriarches d’Alexandrie, chap. 7. Paris, 1923.
- Wigram, W. A. The Separation of the Monophysites, pp. 175-79. London, 1923.
E. R. HARDY