According to tradition, the origin of the Patriarch of Alexandria goes back to Saint Marc and had, during the first five centuries of the Christian era, an important impact in history of the Universal Church.
A number of its members authors and philosophers: Pantene, Clement of Alexandria, Origenus, Heracles, Debios, Didymios and others; Some of its Patriarchs, Confessors and Doctors are also pillars of the Universal Church: such as Alexander, Anthanasius, Theoplulus and Cyrillos. It is in its within this patriarchate that the Christian monachism was born, with its great founders: Saint Anthony, Saint Pacomos, Saint Macalus.
It was St Mark who founded this Patriarchate and provided a major role during the first five centuries; It was considered second to the See of Rome and remained as such till its division in 451 following the Council of Chalcedony. It was then that the majority of Egyptians followed their Patriarch Dioscorus and called themselves "Orthodox". The other faithful remained attached to Rome and were called "Melkites", which meant “party of the king” -protector of the Council of Chalcedony; later they took the name of "Catholics".
Politics played an important role in the destiny of the Patriarchate: it sometime had a Catholic Patriarch while some other time it had an Orthodox Patriarch. At some moment, the same church had even two patriarchs. The Catholic had often a. The last of these Byzantine Patriarchs was Marc II ( beginning of the XIIIth century). He wanted to abolish the alexandrine liturgy and replace it by the Byzantine liturgy. The Catholics opposed him; he left to Constantinople where he died. The liturgy was kept, the Coptic language predominated on the geek and later on Arabic.
Priests came mostly from Jerusalem, at different periods of the year to confer sacraments to faithful who remained attached to their Catholicism.
The Holy See made great efforts to reunite the two churches. There was a huge correspondence with the Orthodox Patriarchs. A first trial for the union occurred at the Florence Council in 1443. The union was signed on the 4th of February of this same year, but the distance, the ignorance and the persecutions were the cause of the failure of its execution. A second trial was made at the Memphis (Cairo) Council in 1582, and at last a third one in 1814, but without attaining to the union.
The Holy See did not neglect the small Catholic herd: the Franciscan Fathers, when established in Egypt in the XVIIth century, took charge of it.
In 1741, Benoit XIV appointed Athanase, the Coptic Bishop of Jerusalem Apostolic Vicar for the Coptic of Egypt. Since that date there were Apostolic Vicars. In 1895 the Pope Leon XIII in his apostolic letter "Christi Domini" of 26 November, re established the Patriarchate of Alexandria declaring "Patriarcatum Alexandrinum restituimus” and “pro Coptis constitiomus".
H.B. Cyrillus Macaire was appointed Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, and the Egyptian territory was divided in three dioceses: the patriarchal diocese including all the lower Egypt (Delta of the Nile), the diocese of Hermopolis Magna and the diocese of Thebes. The Patriarch himself, whose residence is in Cairo, administers the patriarchal diocese.
From 1908 to 1947, the Patriarchate had two apostolic Administrators: H.E. Mgr. Maximos Sedfaoui, then H.E. Mgr. Marc Khouzam. The latter was elected Patriarch on the 9th of August 1947, and enthroned the 7th of March 1948.
The number of faithful has increased especially in High Egypt, the diocese of Thebes was divided in two parts on the 9th of August 1947, H.E. Mgr. Alexandros H. Scandar was consecrated as bishop for the new diocese of Assyout on 18th December 1947. Upon the death of H.B. Marc II on the 2nd of February 1958, the Synod of the Coptic Catholic Bishops elected his auxiliary Stephanos I, who was approved by the Holy See on the 17th June and was enthroned on the 29th June 1958. Later Stephanos I was promoted Cardinal on the 22nd February 1965.
On 24th February 1984, H.E. Mgr. Andraos Ghattas, bishop of Thebes-Luxor, was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Patriarchate. On the 19th April 1986, H.B. Stephanos I having presented his resignation due to old age and bad health, the Patriarchal Synod elected Amba Andraos Gattas Patriarch on the 9th June 1986, the new Patriarch took the name of Stephanos II and was enthroned on the 12th of July of the same year.
Today the Coptic Catholic Patriarchate of Alexandria has about 210000 faithful spread in six dioceses:
1. The patriarchal diocese administered by H.B. the Patriarch Stephanos II, with the help of two Auxiliary Bishops Their Excellencies Mgr. Youhana Golta, and Mgr Andraos Salama.
priests and about forty Franciscan and other priests serve these six dioceses.