Peter of Alexandria (1)

Peter OF Alexandria (1)

the first of that name in the list of bishops, and noted for the part he took against the Meletian schism, was born in the 3d century. He was placed over the see of Alexandria after the death of Theonas, which occurred April 9, 300. Peter had not occupied the position quite three years when the persecution commenced by the emperor Diocletian, and continued by his successors, broke out in 304. Peter was obliged to hide himself, and fled from one place to another, as we learn from a discourse said to have been delivered by him in prison, in which he states that he found shelter at different times in Mesopotamia, in Phoenicia, in Palestine, and in various islands. Cave conjectures that he was imprisoned during the reign of Diocletian or Maximian Galerius, but, if so, Peter must have obtained his release before the schism in the Egyptian churches. In 306 he assembled a council, which passed upon the misdemeanors of Meletius, bishop of Lycopolis. This prelate, in publishing calumnies against Peter and his council, finally created a schism in the Church of Alexandria, which lasted 150 years. Peter was obliged to seek his safety in flight. In the ninth year of the persecution he was, suddenly and contrary to all expectation, again arrested by order of Maximin Daza, and, without any distinct charge be. ing brought against him, was beheaded November 25, 311. Eusebius speaks with the highest admiration of his piety and his attainments in sacred literature, and he is revered as a saint and martyr both in the Eastern and Western churches. His memory is now celebrated by the Latin and Greek churches on the 26th, except in Russia, where the more ancient computation, which placed it on the 25th, is still followed. Peter wrote several works, of which there are very scanty remains:

(1.) Sermo de Paenitentia:

(2.) Sermo in Sanctum Pascha. These discourses are not extant in their original form, but fifteen canons relating to the lapsi, or those who in time of persecution had fallen away — fourteen of them from the Sermo de Poenitentia (λόγος περὶ μετανοίας), the fifteenth from the Sermo in Sanctum Pascha — are contained in all the Canonumn Collectiones. They were published in a Latin version in the Micropresbyticon (Basle, 1550); in the Orthodoxographa of Heroldus (ibid. 1555), and of Grynaeus (ibid. 1569); in the first and second editions of De la Bigne's Bibliotheca Patrum (Paris, 1575 and 1589), and in the Cologne edition (1618). They are given also in the Concilia. It is only in some MSS. and editions that the separate source of the fifteenth canon is pointed out: —

(3.) Liber de Divinitate s. Deitate. There is a citation from this treatise in the Acta Concilii Ephesini; it occurs in the Actio prima, and a part of it is again cited in the Defensio Cyrilli, which is given in the sequel of the Acta:

(4.) Homilia de Adventu Salvatoris s. Christi. A short citation from this occurs in the Latin version of the work of Leontius of Byzantium, Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos, lib. 1: —

(5, 6.) Two fragments, one described, Ex primo Sermone, de eo quod nec praeexistit Anima, nec cum peccasset propterea in Corpus missa est, the other as Ex Mystagogia quam fecit ad Ecclesiam cum Martyrii Coronam suscepturus esset, are cited by the emperor Justinian in his Epistola ad Mennam CPolitanum adversus Origenem, given in the Acta Concilia CPolitani II s. OEcunenici V (Concilia, volume 5, col. 652, ed. Labbe; volume 3 col. 256, 257, ed. Hardouin). Another fragment of the same discourse is contained in the compilation Leontii et Joannis Rerum Sacrarum lib. 2, published by Mai in the above-cited Collectio, 7:85: —

(7.) Epistola S. Petri Episcopi ad Ecclesiam Alexandrinam, noticing some irregular proceedings of the schismatic Meletius. This letter, which is very short, was published in a Latin version by Scipio Maffei in the third volume of his Observazione Letterarie (Veronae, 1737-40, 6 volumes, 12mo): —

(8.) Doctrina. A fragment of this work is cited by Leontius and Joannes. and was published by Mai (ibid. page 96). The published fragments of Peter's works, with few exceptions, are given in the fourth volume of Galland's Bibliotheca Patrum, page 91, etc. See Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. 7:32; 8:13; 9:6, cum notis Valesii; Athanasius, Apolog, contra Arianos, c. 59; Epiphanius, 1.c.; Concilia, 1.c.: Cave, Hist. Litt. ad ann. 301, 1:160 (Oxford ed. 1740-43) Tillemont, Memoires, 5:436, etc.; Fabricius, Biblioth Graec. 9:316, etc.; Ceillier, Hist. des Auteurs sacres e ecclesiastiques, 4:17 sq.; Dupin, Bibliotheque des Auteurs eccles.; Galland, Biblioth. Patrum, proleg. ad volume 4, c. 6. — Smith, Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Biog. and Mythol. 3:219. Comp. Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, 40:138; Dorner, Christologie, 1:810; Hefele, Conciliengesch. 1:327 sq.; Schaff, Church Hist. volume 1.

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