This contribution examines how models of exile were adopted and adapted in non-Chalcedonian communities following the establishment of a parallel Severan episcopal hierarchy under Archbishop Peter IV of Alexandria (576–577) and the consolidation of the Severan non-Chalcedonian church under his successor Damian (578–c. 607). Peter's predecessor Theodosius spent most of his long episcopacy (536–566) exiled in Constantinople, where he died, and Peter himself contended with three rivals to the patriarchate of Alexandria. Drawing on literary, documentary, and archaeological sources, I explore how the memory of non-Chalcedonian heroes was mobilized partly in order to validate the uncomfortable truth that members of the new network of bishops did not always live in their capitals, but in local monasteries, just as Peter and Damian did not live in Alexandria, but in the Enaton, nine miles to the west.
After a brief survey of the role of exile in the Alexandrian Church, I concentrate on the literary representation of the appropriate places for exile in monastic literature, in particular the identification of the “deserts” and “mountains,” “caves” and “holes” of the wandering Hebrews (Heb 11.38) with the monastic landscape of Egypt in the late sixth and early seventh centuries. At this time, monastic habitation of natural caves, gallery quarries, and rock-cut tombs on the desert escarpment above the Nile Valley flood plain flourished. Finally, I survey the archaeological evidence of one region where bishops appointed by Damian settled, and how they put their models of exile into practice.