|Real Saints Wear Pink.|
Alexandria was a vast metropolis, a cosmopolis, really. And as far as Christianity went, it was a center to rival Rome and Constantinople. Becoming patriarch at any time would have been a challenge, but taking over when Arius was gathering steam under his heresy was a real problem. It was compounded by the eternally vexing question of when to celebrate Easter (it's so much easier now that we have calendars to check), and aggravated further by an irritating, slanderous little schismatic named Meletius of Lycopolis.
Alexander's predecessor, Achillas, had tried to be conciliatory to Arius, but that had only given Arius the breathing room to reinforce his base. When Alexander preached about the unity of the Trinity, Arius blasted him with a charge of heresy and reignited the fight.
All of Alexander's troubles were referred to the Council of Nicea in 325, the first ecumenical council ever. Emperor Constantine, who called the Council, invited Alexander to be the president. And this is perhaps the most remarkable part of the story, the part that shows both the sagacity and the fairness of Alexander. As president, he could surely have steered things in the direction he wanted. Perhaps he counted the votes ahead of time and was confident that he could win without chairing. Or maybe he felt that the acceptability of the Council's verdict was more important than the verdict itself. For whatever reason, he abdicated the presidency to Hosius of Cordova.
Alexander prevailed on two of his cases and split the decision with Meletius. He died five months later and was succeeded by his deacon, Saint Athanasius, who assisted and then led in the struggle against Arianism. Athanasius, eventually recognized as a Doctor of the Church, gets a nod in my post about John Rugg and will have to get his own post someday.