At first the position was an Episcopate, which was revered as one of the three most ancient Episcopates, along with Rome and Antioch, a century before Jerusalem or Constantinopole attained that status in 381; the five subsequently came to be known as the Pentarchy. It was, de facto, elevated to an Archiepiscopal status by the local Alexandrine Council on the one hand and it was then regulated by canon law of the First Ecumenical Council stipulating that all the Egyptian episcopal and metropolitan provinces be subjected to this Metropolitan See of Alexandria, as was already the prevailing custom.
The office was acknowledged as a Patriarchate by the time of the Third Ecumenical Council, and was officially ratified as such by the Fourth Ecumenical Council. The title Pope was originally used in a capacity of an appellation rather than a title and eventually it became a title, but contrary to the Pope of Rome, the Pope of Alexandria had no distinction in his Papal/Pontifical and Patriarchal titles. They were used together in the same capacity and this dual title did not put him on a higher ecclesiastical/hierarchical level than the other Patriarchs of the Pentarchy. Also the use of the title by the Roman Bishop did not restrict it to himself or deprive it from his Alexandrian colleague.
Papa has been the specific designation for the Archbishop of Alexandria and Patriarch of all Africa on the See of Saint Mark. Historically, this office has held the title of Pope, "Παπας", which means "Father" in the Greek and the Coptic languages, since Pope Heracleus, the 13th Alexandrine Bishop (232-249 AD), to whom, was the first time to associate the appellation of Pope with the title of the Bishop of Alexandria three centuries before it was assumed by John I, Bishop of Rome (523- 526), who ratified the Alexandrian computation of the date of Easter. Bestowing the title on Rome's Pontiff did not strip it from Alexandria's, and the Roman Catholic Church recognizes this ecclesiastical fact.
According to church tradition, the Patriarchate was founded in 42 by the Apostle Saint Mark the Evangelist. All churches acknowledge the same succession of church leaders up to about the dividing Council of Chalcedon 451.