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Eastern Christianity

The Patriarchate of Alexandria

Doctrines On all major issues the Patriarchate of Alexandria is in agreement with other Eastern Orthodox Churches. (See Eastern Orthodoxy.)

History The Council of Nicaea of 325 singled out Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch as the three great centres of Christendom. This was confirmed by the Council of Chalcedon of 451 which established in order of status Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. The Chalcedonian definition of Christ as one person in two natures alienated many Egyptian Christians. The Coptic majority rejected Chalcedon and broke away from the Catholic Church, leaving a mainly Greek minority in communion with Constantinople and Rome.
The Greek church in Alexandria followed the lead of Constantinople when it broke with Rome in 1054. After the Ottoman invasion of Egypt in 1517 the Alexandrian patriarchate was placed under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople. This situation remained until the end of the first world war when the Ottoman empire collapsed, leaving the Church in Egypt to administer its own affairs. Since the 1950s the Greek community in Egypt has declined, reducing the strength of the Alexandrian patriarchate. However, effective missionary work has spread the influence of the church into other parts of Africa.

Symbols Festal icons, Christ as Pantocrator, Mary as Theotokos. (See Eastern Orthodoxy.)

Adherents There are some 350,000 Christians under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Alexandria (Europa Publications Limited 1995, 1:1073). In addition to Egypt, the church has jurisdiction over Orthodox Christians throughout Africa. Its members are mainly in Ethiopia, Kenya, the Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Main Centre
 POB 2006, Alexandria; tel. (3) 4835839.