On the ninth of next March, the Copts of Egypt and the world celebrate the golden jubilee of the departure of Saint Pope Kyrillos VI (the one hundred sixteenth Patriarch of the See of Mark), who was canonized by the Church on Thursday, June 20, 2013, 43 years after his departure from this world.
Pope Kyrillos VI desired to live and die as a stranger, but the will of God chose him to become the Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Yes, he fled from the world to the austere life of monasticism, devoting his life to God, God made him the shepherd of shepherds because he was a shepherd according to his heart, as the Bible says: “And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
Azer Youssef Atta (Saint Pope Kyrillos VI) began his life journey on 8th of August 1902, in Toukh Al Nasara town. He lived in Damanhur with his family, who moved later to Alexandria. After obtaining his Bachelor’s degree, he worked in Cook Shipping navigation company in Alexandria in 1921.
Azer longed for the life of monasticism, so he decided to train himself on the life of solitude, retreat, fasting and prayer. Then he resigned amidst the surprise of everyone, trying to discourage him, but he insisted on the path that he chose for himself. Azer headed to the Monastery of Saint Virgin Mary, known as Al-Baramous; where he was ordained a monk on the twenty-fifth of February 1928, named Mina Al-Baramousi. He studied at the Theological School in Helwan, then was ordained a priest in July 1931. Priest Monk Mina Al-Baramousi refused to be ordained a bishop, so he fled to the Monastery of Saint Anba Shenouda, the Archimandrite in Sohag; for God was preparing him for another mission. After returning to his monastery, he reclused in a cave in the desert, an hour-walking far from the monastery.
in 1936, Priest Monk Mina Al-Baramousi moved to the desert of Old Cairo, to live in a windmill known afterwards as “The Windmill of Pope Kyrillos”. Monk Mina the Recluse abided by daily prayer; his life began to attract many to him, as it was a light illuminating the path for them. His Australian manager said about him: “This young man has taught me how to respect him”! Also, Dr. Hassan Fouad, the director of Arab antiquities said about him: “Oh, father: You have raised the heads of the monks and have honored the Egyptian man. I send my warm greetings to you!”.
In 1941, Priest Monk Mina Al-Baramousi was assigned the presidency of the Monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in Mount Qalamun, and in the meantime he was promoted to an archpriest; he was moving between the mill and the monastery. However, the outbreak of the Second World War (1939-1945) hindered Archpriest Mina the Recluse from continuing his reclusion in the mill. He frequented the Southern Monastery of Archangel and the Church of Saint Virgin Mary in Babylon Stairway. In 1947, he built a church on the name of martyr Saint Mina the Wonderworker, then he established a residence for students in 1949.
The divine care had chosen Archpriest Mina the Recluse for the mission of taking care and tending the subjects of St. Mark the Apostle. A number of signs came, including the dream that Archpriest Mina the Recluse narrated to some of his close associates when he was still a monk living in the windmill. Pope Yoannis the Nineteenth appeared in a dream to Archpriest Mina the Recluse, and told him: “Look, Father Mina, the crosier was broken while I was climbing the mountain, I am very sad for it.” So, he replied: “Will Your Grace leave it for me for a little while?” He gave him the rod, then he fixed it and gave it back to him. The Pope rejoiced and told him: “Take it, Father Mina, I have granted it to you.”; So, he took it from his hand.
Archpriest Mina Recluse was ordained a patriarch on May, 10, 1959. As for choosing the patriarch’s name, it has a story… Stories in beautiful Egypt never end!
The General Bishop
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center3 March 2021