Paul of Canopus

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Egyptian monk, patriarch of Alexandria from 536 to 539. Nothing is known of Paul's background or education. He was one of the monks sent to Constantinople in 536 to complain to justinian i about the Origenistic disturbances in Egypt. While there he made the acquaintance of the Roman deacon and future pope, pelagius i, who recommended him to the emperor to succeed Theodosius, the deposed Monophysite patriarch of Alexandria. Paul was consecrated at Constantinople in the presence of Pelagius by the patriarch mennas toward the end of 536 or early in 537 and was sent to Egypt with orders to pacify the religious situation. He had to use military assistance to take possession of his patriarchal see, and he conducted himself with such violence against Monophysite groups that he worsened the situation. He was accused of having demanded the torture and death of the deacon Psoïs, suspected of intrigue against the patriarch. This execution caused a great stir (Liberatus, 23; Procopius, Hist. arcana, 150152); and in its wake, the city magistrate Arsenius and the augustal prefect Rhodon were executed. Paul fled to Gaza, where at the instance of Justinian, a synod was held in 539 by the patriarchs Ephrem of Antioch, Peter of Jerusalem, and Hypatius of Ephesus and the imperial official Eusebius, in the presence of the deacon Pelagius. Paul was deposed and exiled, and another monk, Zoïlus, was nominated patriarch of Alexandria.

Bibliography: j. maspero, Histoire des patriarches d'Alexandrie (Paris 1923) 129ff. a. fliche and v. martin, eds., Histoire de l'église depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours (Paris 1935) 4;455. l. duchesne, L'Église au VI e siècle (Paris 1925) 103105; 169170.

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