The forty-fifth patriarch of the See of Saint Mark (731-743). Theodorus (Tawadrus) was a monk at Dayr Tamnurah on the fringe of Mareotis, west of Alexandria. The sources are silent about his early secular life as well as on the date and place of his birth and his activities before he took the monastic vow. However, the HISTORY OF THE PATRIARCHS is explicit about his saintly character and his humility, as well as his love of serving others throughout his life.
He aimed always at the execution of Christ’s words to his disciples: “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave” (Mt. 20:26-27). He literally carried out the Lord’s words by serving his fellow monks, and as patriarch he continued to serve the whole community in the same way.
His fame spread through Alexandria, and its notables and archons as well as its clergy nominated him for the patriarchal dignity. It is said in the History of the Patriarchs that his spiritual father, ALEXANDER II, had prophesied that Theodorus would succeed to the throne of Saint Mark.
His reign was marked on the whole by an atmosphere of peace and serenity, though for a short time at the beginning this was not so. ‘Ubayd Allah, the governor of Egypt at Theodorus’ accession, proved to be a tough extortionist who doubled the capitation tax (JIZYAH) from one to two dinars and even imposed heavier taxation on his fellow Muslims.
It is said that the Muslims, not the Copts, were the first to protest against his imposts to the lenient caliph Hisham, who listened to their complaint and removed ‘Ubayd Allah from Egypt to the Maghreb, where he met his end in Morocco. With ‘Ubayd Allah’s disappearance from the country, peaceful coexistence prevailed and the people, both Muslims and Copts, lived together harmoniously with no fear of excessive and illegal taxation. The Covenant of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab was observed by the new governors in relation to the Coptic people.
The Coptic community kept growing under Theodorus owing to the return of many Chalcedonians to the mother church.
- Atiya, A. S. History of Eastern Christianity. London, 1968.
- Cambridge History of Islam, 2 vols. ed. P. M. Holt, Ann K. S. Lambton, and Bernard Lewis. Cambridge, 1970. Hitti, P. K. History of the Arabs. London, 1946.
- Lane-Poole, S. History of Egypt in the Middle Ages. London, 1901.
SUBHI Y. LABIB