CAIRO: Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and Patriarch of Saint Mark Diocese led the Orthodox Easter mass at St. Mark Cathedral in Abassiya Saturday.
The mass was held on the Easter eve, also known as Holy Saturday. According to the bible, the day marks the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion on the Good Friday.
A presidential delegate, the UAE Ambassador to Egypt along with an array of statesmen and public figures were present. President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi attended the Coptic Christmas mass held on Jan. 6.
“According to Coptic traditions, Copts commence an Easter Vigil Saturday and it lasts until the dawn of Easter on Sunday; they day they end a 55-day Lent in which all animal products including milk, cheese and butter are not allowed,” member of the Coptic lay Council archpriest Salib Matta told Youm7.
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab is scheduled to visit Pope Tawadros II at St. Mark Cathedral in Abassiya Sunday while the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, currently in his hometown of Luxor, is expected to visit the Coptic Pope when he comes back on Tuesday.
The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of the oldest branches of Christianity that was founded by one of the 72 apostles sent forth by Jesus, according to Khourhsid, and the word “Coptic” is derived from a Greek term meaning “Egyptian.” The Coptic Church split from the Roman Church in a disagreement over the true nature of Jesus.
Egypt is the home of the largest Christian community in the Middle East, estimated at 10-15 percent of Egypt’s population of more than 80 million people.
Many Orthodox churches, including those in Egypt, Russia and some Eastern European countries, base their Easter date on the Julian calendar, which often differs from the Gregorian calendar that is used by churches in European and North American countries, thus the Coptic Orthodox Easter period usually occurs later than the Easter period in western countries.
During the past few days ahead of Easter, hundreds of Copts headed to Jerusalem to visit Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, the Jordan River, the port city of Jaffa and other holy sites. The action came amid opposition from Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church which discourages Copts from celebrating Easter in Jerusalem; it considers the pilgrimage to the Holy Land as “normalization” with Israel since those pilgrims must obtain Israeli visas.