Athanasius’ Third Arrest, 356 A.D.

athanasius the great

Holy Coptic chants solemnly resonate,

somnambulant Eastern liturgical drone:

heaven’s hope echoing off stone church walls.

Cassocks, candelabras and kiot*, gold-tinted.

Altar and icons by incense clouded,

praying priests half-hidden by holy haze,

God’s grace spice-suffusing the sanctuary.


At midnight mass, Caesar’s dark legions came

smashed the sacred, bolted doors,

slashed with indiscriminate swords,

pagan fury spat with blood-drunk blasphemies;

sacrilege in St. Theonas’ sanctuary,

dozing pigeons scatter in frenzied flight.


Virgin Christians stripped by sadistic soldiers,

raped, vainly shielding votive bodies

with mere tatters of white garments;

men murdered, javelin pierced, intestines

spill from sliced stomachs, slithering like snakes,

screams intermingle with the recited Psalm:

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.

His love endures forever…


Failed arrest of the antagonist, Athanasius:

dogmatic theologian, belligerent Egyptian,

iconoclast, midget bodied bishop –

escape managed amid murderous affray.


Fifteen years of desert exile followed,

then that triumphal procession to Alexandria,

seated on an ass, the beast of burden.

Thousands hosanna-proclaim,

palm-branches uplifted in an arc

welcoming their holy hero,

imitating another man’s entry:

Christ, compelled to complete salvation story.


‘Jesus is God!’ –  his divisive doctrine declared,

life and death statement, spoken and sung,

crucible-crafted by prophetic priest, Athanasius,

biblically patented from antiquity to eternity…


Athanasius – Christian theologian, Church Father, chief defender of Trinitarianism (against Arianism). Noted Egyptian leader of the fourth century.

*Kiot –  a special wooden box with a hinged, framed glass door in the front, usually a case for an icon.