Diocese of Damietta

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The Holy Diocese of Damietta is a titular diocese in Egypt under the jurisdiction of the Church of Alexandria. The diocesan area is currently served by the Archdiocese of Pelusium. Its current hierarch is His Grace Germanos (Galanis).


Damietta is a city and a distributary of the Nile, located on the northeastern shore of the Nile Delta. It has existed at least since the pharaonic times, although nothing much is known from its early period. The same can be said about its importance during the Early Church. During the 18th century, the western historian Michel Le Quien mentioned the see of Damietta as a suffragan to Oxyrhynchus in Arcadia. This was probably a mistake, since geographically it is impossible to Damietta be located in Arcadia instead of Augustamnica.

Its first known bishop, Heraclios, was recorded only during the 5th century, when Damietta was suffragan to the Archdiocese of Pelusium, capital of Augustamnica Prima. Heraclios attended the Third Ecumenical Council in 431, convoked by Saint Theodosius II (402–450) in order to anathematize Nestorianism.

Elpidios was probably his successor, being known in 459 as one of the signatories of the decree against simony, the act of selling church offices or relics for money, written by Saint Gennadius I, Patriarch of Constantinople (458–471).

In 553, Vassos was present at the Fifth Ecumenical Council convoked by Saint Justinian the Great (527–565), which again condemned some topics of Nestorianism. He was the last known bishop before the Islamic conquest of Egypt in 639, when probably the see of Damietta fell to the Miaphysites.

During the middle of the 9th century, following the fall of Sicily and Crete to the Muslims and the increasing amount of raids in the Aegean Sea, the Roman Empire attacked Damietta at the orders of Michael III (842–867), because its port was a direct supply line to pirates and the Emirate of Crete. Eighty-five ships landed in the undefended Damietta, and five thousand men plundered and torched the city, while hundreds of Muslim and Miaphysite inhabitants were made captives. This event went completely underreported by the Greek historians contemporary to Michael because of their hostility against his unchristian reign. The emperor called for another raid in 854. And in 855.

In 879, Patriarch Michael II of Alexandria (870–903) wrote a letter to the Eighth Ecumenical Council convoked by Emperor Basil I (867–886). In the letter, Michael informs about a council held at Alexandria in favor of Saint Photius the Great's restoration to the Throne of Constantinople, signed by a number of Alexandrian bishops, including Zacharias at Damietta. The see of Damietta was probably restored after the Roman attack, which allowed the Greeks to settle in Damietta again.

In the 11th century, the Miaphysite bishop of Antioch, John VIII (1004–1033) related that a certain Ephraim, who was bishop at Damietta, had fled to Syria after the large persecution against Christians launched by Caliph Al-Hakim (996–1021) after 1009 in the Nile Delta. He was considered to be under the Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, Arsenios (1000–1010; himself a martyr from the persecution). It is assumed that the see of Damietta finally met its end during this persecution. Every other bishop of Damietta after this date was Miaphysite.

The bishopric of Damietta was restored as titular diocese by Patriarch Nicholas VI of Alexandria (1968–1986) in 1979, its territory being again canonically under the Archdiocese of Pelusium. Its first bishop was Archmandrite Solomon Bazaios, later titular Archbishop of Thebes (1983–1993). After Bishop Solomon's promotion, Archmandrite Titos Karantzalis was made Bishop of Damietta. Later, he would become Archbishop of Leontopolis (1988–1997) and Archbishop of Khartoum (1997–2000). Hegumen Joachim Tsarikis, who served in Egypt as the Patriarchal Commissioner, was ordained Bishop of Damietta in 1988.

On January 13, 1998, the see of Damietta was elevated to titular Archdiocese of Damietta. In the next year, Archbishop Joachim retired from active service, and remained with this title until his repose in 2016. On November 25, 2019, during His Beatitude Theodoros II of Alexandria's 15th anniversary since his election, Damietta was demoted to titular bishopric again, and Hegumen Germanos Galanis, copyist to the Holy Synod of Alexandria, was made Bishop of Damietta.

Ruling bishops

Ancient bishops
  • Heraclios (fl. 431)
  • Elpidios (fl. 459)
  • Vassos (fl. 553)
  • Zacharias (fl. 879)
  • Ephraim (fl. 1010)

(supressed in the 11th century following the persecution under Caliph Al-Hakim)

Modern bishops
  • Solomon (Bazaios) 1979–1983
  • Titos (Karantzalis) 1983–1988
  • Joachim (Tsakiris) 1988–2016
  • Germanos (Galanis) 2019–Present