A Chalcedonian patriarch of Alexandria (460-482). A one-time steward of the church of Alexandria, he was consecrated patriarch after the expulsion of TIMOTHY II AELURUS (“the Cat”) in 459. His nickname may be derived from Coptic with a “dog Latin” ending meaning “wearer of a white turban” or “wobbling turban.” He was the recipient of some of Pope Leo’s last recorded letters, one (Letter 171 of 18 August 460) exhorting him to exert himself against the remnants of Eutychian and Nestorian heresy.
For sixteen years he was able to hold his position through innate reasonableness and gentleness of character, which made him popular with pro- and anti-Chalcedonians alike. The Carthaginian deacon Liberatus records in the next century (Breviarium 16) that the Alexandrians told him, “Even if we do not communicate with you, we love you.” He restored the name of Patriarch Dioscorus to the diptychs, an act that increased the affection in which he was held even by opponents.
In 476, however, Emperor ZENO was in exile from Constantinople and the anti-Chalcedonian usurper Basilisceus ruled in his stead. Timothy “the Cat” returned to Alexandria; Timothy Salofaciolus retired to the Pachomian monastery of Canopus in the suburbs of Alexandria. On the death of Timothy “the Cat,” the anti- Chalcedonians elected PETER III MONGUS patriarch (480-488), but on the intervention of the prefect Anthemius he was removed and Timothy Salofaciolus restored.
Timothy entered into relations with Zeno, who had been restored to the throne (August 476), and with Pope Simplicius (468-483), whom he assured of his orthodoxy and his cancellation of his commemoration of Dioscorus.
In 481 Timothy made provision for the continuance of the Chalcedonian succession by sending an embassy to Emperor Zeno under his steward, John Talaia. John, however, behaved imprudently and was suspected of contacting the powerful Iranian general Illus, whom Zeno feared, not unreasonably, as a possible rival. As a result, Zeno, while agreeing to the appointment of a successor to Timothy, stipulated that John should remove all claim to that position.
John complied, but on the death of Timothy, probably in February 482, went back on his word and allowed himself to be consecrated patriarch. Zeno thereupon accepted Peter Mongus as patriarch, on condition that he admit pro-Chalcedonians to communion and subscribe to the letter that Zeno sent to the church of Alexandria on 28 July 482, known as the HENOTICON of Zeno.
The career of Timothy shows how deep were the divisions among Cyril’s clergy, and how they were exacerbated by the autocratic rule of Dioscorus. No amount of conciliation, however, could bring the Western and Eastern, the pro- and anti-Chalcedonian factions, in Alexandria together. That Timothy remained in office for so long and that, unlike his predecessor Proterius, he died peacefully says much for his fair-minded and conciliatory nature. That he failed was no fault of his.
- Besant, W. “Timotheus.” DCB 4, pp. 1033-34.
- Stein, E. Histoire du Bas Empire, Vol. 2. Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam, 1949.