Yusab II

The 115th of the See of Saint Mark (1946-1956).

He was born in 1880 at Dayr al-Tafatish, a village near in the province of Jirja. He entered DAYR ANBA ANTUNIYUS, in the Eastern Desert, at the age of seventeen, and was made priest and HEGUMENOS in 1901. From 1902 to 1905 he was sent on an educational mission to Greece, where he studied at the Theological College in Athens. On his return he was appointed abbot of Dayr and subsequently became metropolitan of Jirja. He twice served as patriarchal deputy, once when JOHN XIX traveled to Europe, and a second time after John’s death in 1942.

He also twice visited Ethiopia, first in the company of John XIX in 1930, and later when he represented the pope in the following year at the coronation of SELASSIE.

At the death of III in 1945, he was nominated as patriarchal deputy, and was later elected patriarch. His election was contested by a group of young Coptic zealots under the leadership of Hegumenos SARJIYUS of the church in the district of al-Qulali, who was known as an eloquent public speaker. He used his own periodical Al-Manarah al-Murqusiyyah to spread the word against the patriarch. In the face of these unremitting attacks on the patriarch, the Holy Synod finally met and excommunicated Sarjyus who, in defiance, established his own independent Coptic Orthodox Church.

Toward the end of his pontificate, more sections of the community became disenchanted with his conduct and that of his personal assistant, Melek. Early in the morning of 24 July 1954, a party of young men forced their way into the patriarch’s bedroom and compelled him to sign a document of abdication. Afterward they took him to a monastery in Wadi al-Natrun, where he stayed until his death on 13 November 1956. During this period a committee of was formed to conduct the affairs of the church. The abductors were later tried, each receiving a three-year sentence for the charges of obtaining an unlicensed weapon and carrying an individual by force.

During Yusab’s patriarchate, it was decided for the first time to a delegation of two and a layman to represent the Coptic church in the World Council of Churches (WCC) held at Evanston, Illinois, in 1954. The Copts became a force in the central committee of the WCC through its elected representative, Makari al-Suryani, later Bishop SAMUEL, who was assassinated with President in 1981.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Atiya, A. S. History of Eastern Christianity. London, 1968.

MOUNIR SHOUCRI