Paul II the Black of Alexandria

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Paul II
Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
ChurchSyriac Orthodox Church
Term ended575
PredecessorSergius of Tella
SuccessorPeter III
Personal details
Bornc. 500
Alexandria, Eastern Roman Empire
Constantinople, Eastern Roman Empire

Paul II the Black of Alexandria (Greek: Παυλος Μελανος; Classical Syriac: ܦܘܠܘܣ ܬܪܝܢܐ ܦܛܪܝܪܟܐ ܕܐܢܛܝܘܟܝܐ‎) was the Patriarch of Antioch and head of the Syriac Orthodox Church from 550 until his deposition in 575.


Paul was born in c. 500 in the city of Alexandria in Egypt,[1] and became a monk at the Monastery of Gubba Barraya,[2] located between the cities of Beroea and Hierapolis in Syria.[3] He was educated in Greek and Syriac literature and became abbot of a convent at Alexandria.[2] Paul became syncellus to Pope Theodosius I of Alexandria at Constantinople and, at the patriarchal palace,[4] engaged in a debate with the tritheists Conon of Tarsus and Eugenius of Seleucia in the presence of John Scholasticus, Patriarch of Constantinople.[5] Pope Theodosius proposed to Saint Jacob Baradaeus, Bishop of Edessa, that Paul be consecrated patriarch,[6] and thus he was elected and Saint Jacob Baradaeus and Eugenius, Bishop of Seleucia,[7] consecrated Paul in 550,[2] or 564.[6]

On 20 March 571, Paul left the Monastery of the Acoemetae at Constantinople for the patriarchal palace to discuss the schism within the church between Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians with John Scholasticus and three other non-Chalcedonian bishops.[4] Paul and the three other bishops were tortured until they agreed to enter into communion with John who would in exchange condemn the Council of Chalcedon, but John refused to do so until he had received the consent of Pope John III.[4] The group expressed their dismay at John's pretences and were detained at the Monastery of Saint Abraham in Constantinople where they faced further torture.[4] Paul later escaped Constantinople and fled to the court of Al-Mundhir III ibn al-Harith, King of the Ghassanids.[8] Saint Jacob Baradaeus excommunicated Paul, but restored him to communion at a synod in 575.[4] Paul's rehabilitation was unpopular with Egyptian non-Chalcedonians and many were in favour of his deposition as patriarch.[8]

After Pope Theodosius' death in 566, the non-Chalcedonians of Egypt lacked a spiritual leader, and, between 23 June and 25 August 575, Longinus, Bishop of Nubia, John, Bishop of Chalcis, and George Urtaya consecrated Theodore, archimandrite of a monastery in the Scetis, as Pope of Alexandria with Paul's support.[9] However, Theodore was opposed by members of the Egyptian clergy, and, after six weeks, Pope Peter IV of Alexandria was elected and consecrated.[9] Contrary to canon law, Pope Peter declared Paul deposed as patriarch and condemned Saint Jacob Baradaeus for his part in Paul's consecration as patriarch.[6] Saint Jacob Baradaeus travelled to Alexandria in 576 and agreed to acknowledge Peter as Pope of Alexandria and Paul's deposition on the condition that Paul was not excommunicated.[8] The arrangement between Pope Peter and Saint Jacob Baradaeus was unpopular amongst non-Chalcedonians in Syria and violence erupted between Jacob and Paul's supporters.[8] Paul and Al-Mundhir III attempted to discuss the conflict with Jacob, but the saint refused to seek another compromise.[8]

In 579, Pope Damian of Alexandria, Peter IV's successor, travelled to Syria under the guise of visiting his brother, a prefect in Edessa, but secretly conspired to consecrate a new patriarch of Antioch and thus depose Paul.[10] With the support of some of the Syrian clergy, Pope Damian planned to consecrate a certain Severus at the Cassian Church with two other bishops, but Patriarch Gregory of Antioch discovered Pope Damian's plot and had their residence in Antioch stormed before the consecration took place and the group was forced to flee the city through the sewers.[10] Pope Damian consecrated Peter III of Raqqa as Patriarch of Antioch at Alexandria in 581, and Paul died near Constantinople in 584.[11]


  1. ^ "Paul Melanos". Religion Past and Present.
  2. ^ a b c Barsoum (2003), p. 101
  3. ^ "Gubba Barraya". The Syriac Gazetteer.
  4. ^ a b c d e Hole (1911)
  5. ^ Chapman (1912)
  6. ^ a b c Van Rompay (2005), p. 252
  7. ^ St. Jacob Baradaeus. Northeast American Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
  8. ^ a b c d e Venables (1911)
  9. ^ a b Hainthaler (1975), p. 71
  10. ^ a b Hainthaler (1975), p. 77
  11. ^ Hainthaler (1975), pp. 77-78


Preceded by
Sergius of Tella
Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch
Succeeded by
Peter III