Theonas of Alexandria, St.

views updated


Third-century bishop; d. Dec. 28, 300. Theonas succeeded Maximus in 282 as bishop of Alexandria (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 7.32.3031) and constructed the church that St. Athanasius later rebuilt (Apol. ad Const. 15). He had Pierius as one of his priests and a certain Achillas as director of the catechetical school or Didaskaleion. During the uprising of Achilleus, who proclaimed himself emperor in 295, Alexandria was besieged for eight months by Diocletian's army, and the inhabitants suffered greatly. Theonas is credited with giving them aid and comfort. He is held in high esteem by the Copts and Ethiopians, and his name was added to the Roman Martyrology by ado of vienne. A letter to Lucian, prefect of Diocletian's chamberlains, ascribed to Theonas is a falsification, probably the work of Jerome vignier (160661), which was accepted as authentic by Jean Luc d' Achéry (1672), but rejected by P. Batiffol and A. von Harnack.

Feast: December 28 (Copts); August 23 (Roman Martyrology).

Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum Propylaeum Dec. 355. b. evetts, ed. and tr. History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria (Patrologia orientalis, ed. r. graffin and f. nau[Paris 1903] 1.2, 1.4; 1907) 206211. p. batiffol, Bulletin critique 7 (1886) 155160. a. harnack, Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristilichen Literatur 24.3 (Berlin 1903) 93117. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou, 15 v. (Paris 190753) 5.1:121820; 8.2:277375.

[h. chirat]