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Petros I – Ethiopian Prelates - Coptic Wiki

ETHIOPIAN PRELATES: PETROS I (fl. first half tenth century)

According to the History of the Patriarchs, Petros (Butrus in Arabic) was chosen and consecrated by Patriarch Quzma, or III (920-932), during the reign of an Ethiopian sovereign whose name is not mentioned in the Arabic text. As metropolitan, Petros stood at the very center of an episode important in the history of ancient Ethiopia. Before his death, the king confided his two sons to Petros, asking the abun to choose whichever one would be the better ruler. Petros selected the younger brother and placed him on the throne. However, at this time, a monk by the name of Minas (Mina) came forth from the Monastery of Saint Antony (DAYR ANBA ANTUNIYUS) with another Coptic monk known as Victor (Buqtur).

The two approached Petros and asked him for but were refused, whereupon they began to plot against the prelate. The monks succeeded in forging a letter, purportedly written by Patriarch Cosmas, in which the pontiff declared that Petros was an imposter and should be replaced by and that the election and crowning of the younger brother as king were illegal and he should be dethroned and replaced by the elder son. The latter, upon seeing the false missive, immediately assembled an army, conquered and eliminated his younger brother, and occupied the throne. The new king then deposed Petros, relegated him to a distant place, and gave the see to Menas. However, soon thereafter, Menas quarreled with his old friend, Victor, who then pillaged the bishop’s headquarters, fled Ethiopia, and converted to Islam.

When Patriarch learned of the conspiracy, he excommunicated Menas, whereupon the king executed the false pretender and hastened to find Petros, who had already died in exile. Meanwhile, the patriarch, still greatly offended by the usurper king’s ill treatment of Petros, refused to name a new metropolitan bishop for Ethiopia. Thereupon, the Ethiopian sovereign commanded the coadjutor to assume the functions of metropolitan ad interim, which he did to an advanced age. Because the king was afraid to let his country be without a bishop to perform the necessary ordinations and blessings, he never allowed this man, who remains unnamed in the History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, to journey to Egypt for his official consecration.

The four patriarchs who succeeded Cosmas— I, THEOPHANES, MINA II, and ABRAHAM—also refused to name a metropolitan bishop for this region. Not until the patriarchate of PHILOTHEUS (979-1003) did receive a properly consecrated bishop, Dan’el.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Budge, E. A. W., trans. The Book of the Saints of the Ethiopian Church, Vol. 1, pp. 233-34; Vol. 3, pp. 666-69. Cambridge, 1928.
  • Perruchon, J. “ de Cosmas, patriarche d’Alexandrie de 923 a 934.” Revue sémitique 2 (1894):78-93.
  • Renaudot, E. Historia Patriarcharum Alexandrinorum Jacobitarum, pp. 339-41. Paris, 1713.
  • Rossini, C. d’Etiopia, p. 285. Bergamo, 1928.
  • Sergew Hable Sellassie. Ancient and Medieval Ethiopian History to 1270, pp. 215-18. Addis Ababa, 1972.