Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Consecration of St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, 1968

A friend brought to my attention this fascinating footage of the consecration of St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, the seat of the Coptic Orthodox Pope. The church was built in the reign of Cyril VI (1959-71), and consecrated by him on June 25, 1968; the ceremony was attended by the President of Egypt, Gamal Nasser, and by the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. (It may be noted in passing that one of the first acts of Cyril VI’s reign was to grant autocephaly to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, according to an agreement reached in the reign of his predecessor.) The cathedral is named, of course, for St Mark the Evangelist, who is honored as the first bishop of Alexandria and the founder of the Coptic Church. Before this ceremony took place, Pope Paul VI ordered that a portion of the relics of St Mark, which were stolen by Venetian merchants in 828 and kept in their city’s most famous church, be returned to the Coptic Church; they are now housed in a special shrine within the cathedral.

Our readers are certainly aware that only ten days ago, during the Sunday morning liturgy, a suicide-bomber killed 27 people and injured 47 others in a chapel dedicated to Ss Peter and Paul, right next to this cathedral. Let us remember, as we await the coming of the Prince of Peace, to ask the Lord to visit all of the persecuted Christian churches of the Middle East, and grant them a peaceful and permanent respite from the evils of the persecution visited upon them for their faith.

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