Saints of the Day – Alexander of Alexandria

detail of a Saint Alexander of Alexandria holy card; swiped with permission from the Santini Imagini web siteArticle

Born c.250; died 326-328. Named bishop of Alexandria in 313 to succeed Saint Achillas, Saint Alexander is famed chiefly for his opposition to the Arian heresy, which claimed the Jesus was not truly God, that the Son was a creature, and that there was a time when the Son did not exist. Alexander is also known for his apostolic doctrine and life, one of the great accomplishments of which was his training of a young deacon name Athanasius, who was later to be celebrated throughout the whole Christian world.

Alexander was gentle with the Arians but he was determined. Many accused him of compromising the position of the Church by the former attitude, many others said he was an impetuous man because of the latter position. He nevertheless must be considered a champion of orthodox Catholic teaching and credited with great pastoral zeal for the kindly, fatherly expostulation he addressed to Arius for a long period before excommunicating him at a meeting of his clergy about 321. The excommunication was confirmed at a local synod in Alexandria. His circular epistle on the Arian heresy has survived and is an important part of the ecclesiastical literature of this period.

As a bishop, Alexander seems to have preferred monks as bishops, appointing by preference those who had lived in hermitages or in the desert since he considered these the proper models of what a bishop ought to be to his flock. Alexander also insisted on charity to the poor in the dioceses under his control–a thing for which he was famous in the diocese of Alexandria.

Alexander is reputed to have drawn up the acts of the first General Council of Nicaea in 325, where Arianism was formally condemned. He died in Alexandria two years after his return from the council, having appointed Athanasius his successor (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Walsh). Click here to see an anonymous Greek icon of Saint Alexander of Alexandria.

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 May 2020. Web. 2 June 2020. <>