Beautiful Egypt 394 – «The Preacher and the Pope… The Martyr and the Pope» – 14/4/2021

Beautiful Egypt 394 – «The Preacher and the Pope… The Martyr and the Pope» – 14/4/2021

Happy Ramadan to all our Muslim brothers in Egypt, the Arab world and the entire universe; most of Ramadan month coincides with the Christians’ Lent, thus, all the Egyptians associate in offering fasts and prayers to God, pleading for Him to grant our country blessing and peace, to keep it from every evil and save the world from the pandemic.

We have talked about Pope Saint Kyrillos VI, who had lived as a father to all, sitting among his people and his children for long hours, blessing them and praying for them, spreading love that included even those who offended him. Everyone loved him, and he grew increasingly popular that thousands of students, on their days of exams, came to him seeking his blessings and prayers, the patriarchate flooded with people seeking prayers, blessings and solutions to their problems. Upon His Holiness’ departure, everyone’s love for him was manifest; the streets surrounding the patriarchate were congested for multitudes were rushing to bid him farewell and to see him for one last time. The scene is described as follows: “Tens of thousands blocked all the roads, the policemen had exerted great effort since six in the morning until eleven in the evening, yet the delegations never stopped! Everyone wanted to take the blessing of the late Pope. The day on which prayers were held over his holy body was extraordinarily crowded with people.” It was the great love that united the Pope and his people, Christians and Muslims alike.

As heaven bore witness to his holiness, honoring his papacy with heavenly apparitions of Saint Virgin Mary on the domes of her church in Al-Zaitoun in 1968, Egypt as well, during the papacy of Pope Kyrillos VI was privileged with restoring the body of its preacher, Saint Mark the Apostle, who preached Christianity all across Egypt amidst an era abounded with pagan cults. Monk Rafael Ava Mina, a disciple of Pope Kyrillos VI, recalls that negotiations to restore the body of Saint Mark had begun in one of the Pope’s interviews with the Apostolic Delegate in Cairo. The Pope addressed him: “Has not yet the time come for you to give us the body of Saint Mark the Apostle?” He replied politely, “We cannot delay a request of Your Holiness.” The Pope said: “Thank you. I will send requesting the body from His Holiness Pope of Rome, and I am sure our endeavors will yield success.” Thus, Pope Kyrillos VI sent to Pope Paul of Rome, requesting the restoration of Saint Mark’s body to Egypt. The Pope of Rome sent to the Patriarch of Venice, who refused to throw away the holy body! The request was repeated several times until he agreed to send back a part of the body. On 22/6/1968, the Coptic delegation received the body, arriving at Cairo airport in the evening of 24/6, and was received by Pope Kyrillos VI at the head of a crowd of fathers bishops and priests and deacons of the Coptic Church, and a large number of foreign delegations and religious bodies, beside more than a hundred thousand Egyptians! Many have recalled seeing a white dove flying over the plane that carries the body! This was at half past eleven in the evening. Thus, the Church of Alexandria restored the spiritual body of its father, its founder and its first patriarch: Saint Mark the Apostle, who returned after an absence of ten centuries! A sacred altar was built for him in the Great Cathedral of Saint Mark.

Pope Kyrillos VI had a deep relationship with the saints, especially with the great Egyptian martyr, Saint Mina the Wonder-worker. The Triple Beatified Pope Shenouda III spoke about Pope Kyrillos: “His love for Saint Mina occupied his emotions… He found pleasure in mentioning the name Saint Mina. He had a personal relationship with Saint Mina, that one feels he is talking about a person with whom he had a strong and loving relationship. Many churches had altars named after Saint Mina, and many churches were built on Saint Mina’s name. Since he was his intercessor, he desired to live in this monastery for the rest of his life. I read letters he sent as Archpriest Mina the Solitary, asking to have this monastery prepared so that he would live there for the rest of his life.” And … stories never end in beautiful Egypt!

The General Bishop

Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center