Constantine and the Coptic Church

Hey everyone,

I've always wondered why is emperor Constantine not a saint in the Coptic Church?

In Christ,
Justice

Comments

  • edited May 16
    He is a saint.

    He's just been a very controversial figure who's sainthood have been debated lately. But officially, he's a saint in the Coptic Church.
  • Minasoliman,

    Thank you, but why does Coptic Network not refer to him as st. Constantine and instead use the term "righteous emperor Constantine"?

    In Christ,
    Justice
  • @Justice I believe that it's the same reason we don't just say St. Shenouda, and instead we say Shenouda the Archimandrite- it's a title. We do it a lot- St. Moses the Strong/the Black, St. Athanasius the Apostolic, etc. That's just my two cents on it, though.
  • No. We definitely say St Shenouda the Archimandrite. We don't say St Constantine because his sainthood is debated. Technically, if Constantine is canonized in the Coptic Church, then we must say St. Constantine. But keep in mind, the use of "Saint" in a saint's title is also very cultural. The Catholic Church say "Blessed Virgin Mary" (no "saint") and the Orthodox say "Theotokos Mary" (again no "saint"). The Syrians say "Marta Mariam" or "Mor Isaac" or "Mar Isaac" (which both mean Lord, not "saint") - which was internalized in Copto-Arabic Egypt as "Mari" Mina or "Mari" Girgis. Technically, proper Egyptian Arabic would be "alkiddes" not "Mari".

    In the end, is there anything salvific or necessary for salvation in a saint's title? No. Whether you say St Constantine or if you say Constantine or if you say "The righteous Emperor Constantine" or even if you say "Constantine is not a saint", it will not endanger your own salvation. Funnel that curiosity you used about saint titles into something that is salvific, like daily prayers or theological reading or ways to love your neighbor and your enemy.
  • Ekhrestos anesty
    Dear @Remnkemi
    We certainly say St Mary.. "tyetouab Maria", "diageya Maria", etc. Mar in Coptic titles is a prefix for the abbreviated word "martiros". It is not a proper Arabic word..
    Oujai khan ebshois
  • Personally I would suggest that we think twice before posting responses to questions such as this thread. To say Constantine's sainthood is debated is only the "opinion" of the minority and not the majority or the church. Let's look at very simplistic facts such as his name is mentioned in the "commemoration of the saints" daily during midnight praises. His name is mentioned in the doxology for the feast of the cross. He has a verse in his name added to the hiteniat (intercessions) and we know we only ask for the prayers of the saints before the Lord. He has a hymn in his name "Etaven nieskhai" chanted on the feast of the cross and his feasts. He is mentioned on a few occasions in the synaxarium and has a feast day (28th Paremhat). On the 8th Abib which is the feast of St Pishoy there is mention of Constantine appearing to the saint in a vision and details of a dialogue. Finally there is an icon of him and St Helena in numerous coptic churches which are consecrated for use.

    To the average person the above certainly does not describe a person that the church does not consider a saint or even officially debates his sainthood.
  • Ophadece, I didn't say Mar is a proper Arabic word. Its etymology is Syriac, not Coptic. Why else would we say Marta Mariam? St Mary was not a martyr. When I said the Orthodox use the title "Theotokos Mary", I had in mind the Eastern Orthodox mostly. In the Coptic Church, we use the title "Virgin Mary" much more than "Saint Mary" or even "Theotokos Mary". It's simply a cultural preference.

    Drew, as minasoliman pointed out, Constantine is officially a saint. No one here is saying he is not a saint. His sainthood is controversial for whatever reason among some clergy and historians. We'll leave that up to the clergy to sort through. As it stands, there are plenty of reasons to recognize St Constantine's sainthood.

    But that wasn't the point of the original question. The question asked why do we have a hard time writing "St Constantine" vs. "Constantine the righteous Emperor" (or any variation without the word "saint"). The controversy over Constantine's sainthood is one possible reason the word "saint" for St Constantine was never internalized among the Copts (and I believe other Apostolic churches).
  • Ekhrestos anesty
    Dear @Remnkemi
    Sorry I misunderstood what you said. As you rightly say it is not an Arabic word, but "marto" as you referred to is not Arabic or Coptic either and it is not a title for martyrs, whilst "mar" is.
    Oujai khan ebshois
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