top of page

historical timeline

of the African Provinces

400 - 499 C.E.
500 - 599 C.E.
600 - 699 C.E.
700 - 799 C.E.
800 - 899 C.E.
900 - 999 C.E.
Death of Theonas, patriarch of Alexandria, was succeeded.
c. 300
Acts of Mark draws together previous centuries of Marcan tradition in Egypt and Libya.
c. 300
Christians becoming numerous throughout the empire, and notably in Africa.
Earliest known church locations in Alexandria: Pharos (restored under Theophilis), martyrium of St. -Mark, Boukolou (pasture near northeastern cliffs beside the sea, Eunostos Harbor), Bendidiou (Mendideion, Church of St. Athanasius), Angeloi (Serapeum), St. Theonas church near eastern gate; Caesareum on Great Harbor; Church of the Archangel Michael; Cosmos and Damian (founded 282 near the stadium west of the colonnade.)
Writings: fourth-century Gnostic manuscripts in~ Nag Hammadi Library; Deir el Bala'iza fragments; Askew Codex; Bohairic Coptic Bible translations; Teachings of Silvanus compiles earlier second century Alexandrian Christian moral wisdom.
Peter, patriarch of Alexandria, fourteen penitential canons on discipline during time of persecution; Homily on Riches, Epiphany homily On the Baptism of Christ are attributed to Peter.
Apa Hor, prepared for martyrdom, makes public confession of faith in Pelusium, tortured, beheaded; later the martyrium of Apa Hor south of Minya was cut into the rock, entered through tunnel to nave; seven monastic centers would form on east bank of Nile south of Minya; St. Apater tortured and beheaded near Asyut.
Beginning of the Great Persecution, February 23; imperial decrees under Diocletian (emperor 284-305) to destroy churches, burn books, confiscate property, dissolve congregations. In Egypt, Hesychius, Pachomius, Theodorus, and Philea are forcibly removed and jailed.
Grave illness of Diocletian
Porphyry, Neoplatonic philosopher, wrote Against the Christians (Adversus Christianos.)
Four Egyptian bishops under arrest rebuke Melitius for presuming to appoint successor to exiled Peter; Melitian Schism begins between Melitius of Lycopolis and Peter of Alexandria.
Diocletian and Maximian adbdicate, 1 May.
c. 305
Anthony emerges as a monk with disciples; first Christian monastic community formed around him in Eastern Egyptian desert; the colony of hermits evidence of the beginnings of semi-eremetic monasticism; Anthony authored seven letters.
Anthony goes to Alexandria to encourage the martyrs.
Galerius issues Edict of Toleration to Christians, though some persecution continues.
Peter, Bishop of Alexandria imprisoned and taken to Boukolous where he prayed at the tomb of St. Mark before being beheaded; Martyrdom of Peter (Passio S. Petri) an anonymous fourth century text is written.
c. 311-325
Ammonius (Ammoun), a notable Alexandrian, takes up monastic life in Nitria; he forms a loosely' connected semi-eremitic monastic retreats; numbers grew to 5000 monks by 400 A.D.
Emperor Constantine with Licinius declares "Edict of Milan" ending religious persecutions, providing freedom of worship and restitution of the goods confiscated from the Christian communities; first step towards the establishment of Christianity's dominance in the Roman Empire.
Licinius defeats Maximinus Daia and is sole emperor of the East.
c. 313
Birth of Didymus the Blind, the leading Alexandrian exegete after Origen (d. 398.)
Pachomius (c. 292-347), born in Sne, a converted Egyptian soldier (312), founds first communal monastery, initiating coenobitic monasticism; sets forth monastic rule for communities.
Athanasius, Treatise on the Incarnation of the Word [De Incarnatione.]
Arian controversy begins; Alexander deposes Arius from his presbyterium.
c. 320
See Ethiopian Timeline
Pachomius founds the monasteries of Tab en nisi, Phbow, Sheneset, Thmoushons.
Synod at Alexandria condemns Arius (born c. 260 in Cyrenaica.)
Letters of Pachomius, Instruction of Pachomius are written.
Eusebius (c. 265-339; Bishop from 314) of Caesarea completes Ecclesiastical History.
First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, called by Constantine; Arianism condemned by the 318 bishops in the Nicene Creed; Arius is exiled to Illyricum.
Bruce Codex, probably Egyptian; the first Bishop of Phyle (1st cataract, Sudan) is appointed.
The kingdom of Ethiopia adopts Christianity; Ethiopian missionaries sent to convert the Himyarites; church historian Philostorgios (386-433) offers first evidence of a Jewish presence in the region.
c. 327
Death of Arnobius of Sicca.
Founding of Church of the Holy Virgin at Gabal al-Tayr (Convent of the Pulley, on the cliff Above the Nile) built (memorial tablet remains.)
Death of Alexander I; Athanasius succeeds as bishop of Alexandria in disputed election; early episcopacy spent among monastic circles and remote rural Christian communities along the Nile and in the desert as far south as the frontier of modern Sudan; Bebawi attempts to locate Athanasius' birthplace in Upper Egypt; Athanasius' sympathies strong toward Upper Egypt and the desert and Cyrenaica, rather than Alexandrian upper class identified with Arius.
Melitians oppose Athanasius.
Hilarion of Gaza (b. 291) founds Palestinian monasticism as disciple of Anthony, whom he sought out at Qalala mountain; then found-hermitage in Libya, later Gaza.
Amid beginnings of Pachomian monasticism, Athanasius forms close bonds with monastic communities of Upper Egypt; does not succeed in ordaining Pachomius as requested by bishop Serapion.
Constantine moves capital to the New Rome, Constantinople formerly Byzantium.
c. 330
Macarius of Egypt founds desert monastery at Wadi-el-Natrun.
Evidences of Christianity at necropolis of Kharga at al-Bagawat, a place of banishment for both Arius and Athanasius at different times.
Ecclesiastical trial of Athanasius at Tyre, Council (Latrocinium) condemns Athanasius, exiled by Constantine to Trier in Gaul; Athanasius would spend twenty three of his next thirty two years in five periods of exile or banishment, each time using his exile as a new frontier of witness; in Gaul writes Against the Nations.
Death of Arius in exile in Upper Egypt.
Constantine baptized by Eusebius of Nicomedia on his deathbed; Athanasius returns to Alexandria; Christians the majority in many parts of North Africa by death of Constantine. After Constantine, Africa ruled by Constantius II (337-340) along with Italy and Illyricum; Egypt ruled to Constantius II (337-361) along with Asia and Syria; Spain and Britain by Constantius II (337-350).
Athanasius writes Letter to Virgins.
Anthony visits Alexandria in support of Athanasius.
Kellia monasteries founded.
Anti-Athanasian synod at Antioch names Gregory of Cappadocia bishop of Alexandria.
Second exile of Athanasius, who introduces monasticism to Italy and Gaul.
Founding of Dair al-Baramus, monastery of the Romans at Wadi al-Natrun (sacked and rebuilt in 407, 410, 444, 507, and 817.)
Synod of Latopolis tries Pachomius on charges of clairvoyance.
Death of Pachomius during plague; Pachomius succeeded by Theodore, then Petronius, then Horsisius (Horsiesi), then by Theodore again who held together Pachomian and Athanasian visions.
Return of Athanasius to Alexandria.
The Rule of Pachomius.
Athanasius writes letter to Ammoun; Paphnutius active in Upper Egypt, Horsisius resigns to Seneset; in Phbow, Theodore takes control of monasteries.
Fall of island of Meroe to the Aksumite King Ezana; ancient capital of Meroe abandoned to Noba, perhaps pastoralists from south.
Pachomian' writings under Theodore and Horsisius: Vitae Paraliponema; Letter of Ammon; Pachomian, Rule; Letter of Theodore; Instructions of Theodore; Letters of Horsisius; Instructions. of Horsisius; Regulations of Horsisius; Liber Horsisiusi, and later anonymous Pachomian Apocalpyse of Kjarur.
Serapion of Thumis leads Athanasian delegation to appeal to Emperor Constantius; Councils of Aries (353) and of Milan (355) condemn Athanasius.
Death of Anthony; the Church of Theonas is stormed in attempt to capture Athanasius, who escapes, assisted by monks; church buildings taken over by anti-Athanasians.
During exile, George of Cappadocia installed as bishop, then forced to flee Alexandria, returns, lynched by pro-Athanasian mob.
Third exile of Athanasius (356-362), in hiding among monks; writes Defense of his Flight, Discourses Against the Arian, anti-Arian letters to monks, Life of Anthony, Four Letters to Serapion.
Martin of Tours founds Liguge monastery after the Egyptian model.
c. 360
Birth of John Cassian (d. 435.)
Monastery of St. Anthony at Mount Clysma founded below mountain cave of St. Anthony.
Death of Constantius; reign of Julian, nephew of Constantine, apostate emperor of East, attempts to revive Paganism; Donatist triumph in Africa; Arian hegemony in East.
October, Emperor Julian forces Athanasius from Alexandria.
Upon openly returning to Alexandria, Athanasius calls Council to decree triune faith; fourth exile of Athanasius.
Julian dies; Athanasius returns, then leaves to meet new emperor Jovian in Syria.
Fifth exile of Athanasius under duress from Emperor Valens; Athanasius again visits Pachomian monasteries seeking reconciliation between Theodore and Horsisius.
Egyptian-born and educated Epiphanius would later become bishop of Salamis; visits Egyptian desert fathers, returns to Eleutheroopolis in Judea to found monastery following Egyptian rule; writes Panarion Against Heretics.
Athanasius writes Festal Letter 39, first reference to complete ecumenically received canon of scripture, citing twenty seven New Testament apostolic books that by tradition have been received for reading in churches.
Athanasius writes Festal Letter 39, first reference to complete ecumenically received canon of scripture, citing twenty seven New Testament apostolic books that by tradition have been received for reading in churches.
Athanasius writes Synodal Letter to the Bishops of Africa, Festal Letter 40; Isidore replaces bishop Dracontius of Hermopolis Parva; Theodore dies; Horsisius leads Pachomian monasteries.
The Great Church (Megale Ecciesia, Kyriakon) of Alexandria reconstructed under Athanasius; a basilica is built at St. Menas near Maryut for international pilgrims.
Athanasius's life of Anthony begins circulating in Gaul.
Death of Athanasius, succeeded by Peter II, who is immediately forced into exile; many monks sent away to hard labor in mines or exile.
Rufinus of Aquileia (c. 345-410) resides in Egypt under Didymus; translates Origen into Latin (397ff.)
Timothy I, brother of Peter I, becomes bishop of Alexandria.
Theodosius I, emperor of the united empire begins Age of Theodosius the Great and his sons (379-395.)
Pilgrimage of Egeria of Gallaecia to Egypt and Palestine.
Theodosian Code makes Catholic Christianity the official religion of the empire; those in communion with Peter of Alexandria and Damasus of Rome are considered orthodox.
Didymus the Blind writes On The Holy Spirit.
First Council of Constantinople (second ecumenical council) defines the deity of the Holy Spirit; Constantinople is declared to have second place after Rome against Alexandrian wishes.
Proscriptions against pagan cults; assemblies of heretics interdicted; prohibition of sacrifices.
Theophilus, patriarch of Alexandria, vests all teaching functions formerly held in catechetical school in the episcopal office; Anba Hadra consecrated Bishop of Aswan on Upper Nile.
Jerome visits Scetis (Wadi al-Natrun) monastery and returns to Bethlehem to found four monasteries with Paula and Eustochium.
Shenute of Atripe becomes hegumen of White Monastery near Suhag; he writes Letters, Sermons Against the Origenists (Contra Origenistas et gnosticos); Contra Melitianos; De Vetere Testamento contra Manichaeos; De praeexistentia Christi; Shenute (d. 466) would be succeeded by Besa, then by Zenobius.
c. 385
Evagrius of Pontus (345-399) settled in Egypt first in Nitria, then in Kellia.
Death of Macarius (300-390), closely linked with Dair Abu Maqar monastery in Wadi al-Natrun; Macarius succeded by Paphnutius.
Death of Parmenian, Donatist Bishop of Carthage, and his Catholic rival Genethlius; Augustine ordained priest; Aurelius becomes bishop of Carthage; Augustine arrives in Hippo to found monastery.
Palladius visits monks of Nitria; over a thousand monks reside at the Monastery of the Cross (Abu Fanah) on the edge of the western Egyptian desert near Qasr Hor, remains of three naves, pillars, apses, wall painting still visible.
Riots in Alexandria destroy the Serapeum.
Augustine's Sermons.
Augustine writes On the Advantage of Believing (De utilitate credendi) and Against the Manicheans (De duabus animabus contra Manichaeos.)
Augustine, On Free Will (De libero arbitrio), Bks. 2-3.
Augustine writes Debate with Fortunatus, a Manichee (Acta contra Fortunatum Manichaeum.)
Augustine writes Explanations of the Psalms, (Ennarrationes in Psalmo); Augustine has already commented on the first 32 psalms by 392.
Augustine preaches opening address at plenary council of the African provinces at Hippo––– On Faith and the Creed (De fide et symbolo.)
Donatist council at Cebarsussa.
c. 393–394
Augustine writes Unfinished Book on the Literal Interpretation of Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram imperfectus liber.)
Arsenius leaves Rome for Desert of Scetis to become disciple of John the Short; fled desert raid in 408 for Gabal Tura (Dair al-Qusayr) for twelve years; ten thousand monks in fourth century Oxyrhynchus; thirty thousand monks and nuns at Basilica at Kom al-Namrud.
Ordination of Paulinus; Donatist Council at Bagai. Augustine attends I Council of Carthage.
c. 394
Augustine writes Psalm against the Donatists (Psalmus contra partem Donatip), On the Lord"s Sermon on the Mount (De sermone Domini in monte), Epistle to the Romans (Epistolae ad Romanos inchoata exposition) , Commentary on the Letter to the Galatians, (Expositio epistolae ad Galatas), On Lying (De Mendacio), Against Adimantus, a Disciple of Mani, (Contra Adimantum Manichei discipulum.)
Augustine becomes bishop of Hippo succeeding Valerius.
Augustine writes to Simplician (Ad Simplicianum de diversis quaestionibus), On the Christian Struggle (De agone Christiano), On Christian Teaching (De doctrina Christiana) (finished 426.)
At Council of Carthage the Brevarium Hipponense is approved with 39 disciplinary canons composed by the bishops of Byzacena in 397. 27 canonical New Testament books cited.
Augustine writes Against Faustus, a Manichee. (Contra Faustum Manichaeum) and Gospel Questions (Quaestiones evangeliorum) .
Augustine writes his Confessions (Confessiones.)
Augustine writes Against Felix the Manichee (Contra Felicen Manichaeum) and On Christian Discipline (De disciplina Christiana.)
Augustine writes De natura boni contra Manichaeo and Against Secundinus the Manichee (Contra Secundinum Manichaeum.)
Augustine writes On the Instruction of Beginners (De catechizandis rudibus) and On Agreement among the Evangelists, (De consensus Evangelistarum.)
bottom of page