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Feastday: November 25

Death: 311


Bishop of Alexandria from 300. A native of Alexandria, Egypt, Peter survived the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian and served as a confessor for the suffering Christians. Made head of the famed Catechetical School of Alexandria, he was a vigorous opponent of Origenism before receiving appointment as bishop. He composed a set of rules by which those who had lapsed might be readmitted to the faith after appropriate penance, a settlement which was not to the liking of extremists of the community. Thus, in 306 when the persecutions began again, Peter was forced to flee the city. The partisans of Melitius, Peter’s chief critic, installed their favorite as bishop of Alexandria, thereby starting the Melitian Schism which troubled the see for many years. Peter returned to Alexandria in 311 after a lull in the persecutions, but was soon arrested and beheaded by Roman officials acting on the decree of Emperor Maximian. He is called the “seal and complement of martyrs” as he was the last Christian slain by Roman authorities. Eusebius of Caesarea described him as “a model bishop, remarkable for his virtuous life and his ardent study of the Scriptures.” He is much revered by the Coptic Christians, although since 1969, his cult has been confined to local calendars in the Catholic Church.


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