Today marks the fifty-first anniversary of the departure of Saint Pope Kyrillos (Cyril) VI, the 116thPatriarch of Alexandria, who assumed the see of Saint Mark the Apostle from May 10, 1959 until his death on March 9, 1971, and whose canonization was declared by the Coptic Orthodox Church in June 2013.
Several titles were given to Saint Pope Kyrillos VI, such as “Man of Prayer”, “Friend of Students”, and “The Patriot”. He maintained a number of traits which are rarely found together in one man, for example: “honesty and faithfulness”, “bearing witness to the truth”, “patriotism”, “courage” and “giving”. Today, I would like to talk about his love that has been manifest in every stage of his life.
Azer Youssef Atta loved God since his early childhood, he maintained strong love for priests, especially monks, to the extent that he used to feel intimate with them and stay with them until he would fall asleep! Mr. Hanna Youssef Atta, his older brother, mentioned that his family’s home was the destination of many, especially the father monks, and among those visitors was an old blind monkcalled Father Tadros Al-Baramousy. Azer was four years old then, and he felt so intimate towards the monk and loved him dearly. One night, Azer fell asleep on the knees of Father Tadros Al-Baramousy; his mother quickly apologized to the father monk, carrying the child, but the monk told her: “Leave him, because he is our portion”!In the course of days and years, Azer’s love for God grow bigger; he used to spend most of his time in the church, diligently attending liturgies and prayers. As for his own room in the house, it became a place to meet with God: it was filled with prayers, hymns, and reading sacred books; until he decided to leave his excellent position with Cooks Shipping Company, rather the entireworld in order to worship God through prayers, fasting, and service, in an angelic monastic life in Al-BaramousMonastery, having the name Monk Mina Al-Barmousy, preferring a life of righteousness, holiness and true happiness.
Father Mina al-Baramousy’s love for God did not stop there, but rather he sought a life of worship and solitude, despite everyone’s warnings to him about the dangers of such difficult life. He lived in solitude in a cave that is one-hour-walking away from the monastery; he turned the cave into a heaven through prayers, praises and glorifying the name of God. Then he lived in solitude in an old mill in Ancient Cairo, he was known as Father Mina the Recluse. When he became famous among people and they came to seek his blessings and prayers, he set specific dates to meet his visitors, and met nobody in any other times; this had organized daily masses to receive the blessing.
After Father Mina the Recluse was chosen for the Patriarchate, he did not deviate from the ascetic and monastic life, so he continued to wear rough clothes (and his shawl for which he was known), his food remained simply little. He was also keen on holding the daily prayers that he used to offer in the morning and evening in the Mass and the Vespers. Pope Shenouda III said about him: “He spent nearly forty years serving the priesthood, and during that period, he was keen to hold the Divine Liturgy every day. He liked to pray all the prayers, chant the hymns of praise, and pray the psalms. The entire history of the church includes nobody like PopeKyrillos who was able to hold such innumerable masses. I have tried to count the masses he held during his life to find them above 12,000 masses… and this is an unprecedented number in the history of any of the Popes of Alexandria, or the even the world, or the monks.” !! Yes, it is love that preferred to live for God, not for itself. And… Stories about beautiful Egypt never end!
The General Bishop
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center