20 February 2011
To commemorate the victims of the Church of the Saints which was bombed during the first minutes of 2011, leaving 20 dead and 110 injured, the church intends to erect a memorial shrine for the victims. The figures of the dead had not been known for sure till now; the search for scattered, unidentified body parts had given misleading figures. A family of four who went missing had also led the Church and the medical authorities to declare the number of dead to be 24 or 26, but now the real figure has been announced as 20 dead.
Father Maqar Fawzy of the Church of the Saints told Watani that four stone bricks from the church’s façade, which was drenched with the blood of the victims, will be pulled out before any repairs are made, and will be placed in a memorial showcase. The picture of Jesus Christ which was also spattered with blood during the bombing will be placed there, as well as a picture of all 20 martyrs marked with their names. The memorial shrine will be the first thing that meets the eye at the church, he said.
On Wednesday 9 February, a commemorative Mass was held for the souls of the victims at Mar-Mina monastery in Maryut, some 70km southwest Alexandria.
Anba Pachomeus, Archbishop of Beheira and the Northern Coast presided over the ceremony. Bishop-general Anba Yu’annis represented Pope Shenouda III and participated in the service, as did the abbot of Mar-Mina monastery Anba Kyrillos; Bishop of Mallawi Anba Demitrius; Bishop of Nag Hammadi Anba Kyrillos; Bishop of Shubraal-Kheima Anba Marqus; Bishop of Downtown Cairo churches Anba Raphael; Bishop of Giza Anba Theodoseus; Bishop of Beni Sweif Anba Ghabriyal. Also officiating were Bishop Adel Zaki of the Latin Church, a delegation of Franciscan Catholic fathers, and representatives of the Evangelical Church. Hundreds of Coptic clerics and thousands of people attended.
The following day, another commemorative Mass was held at the Church of the Saints in Alexandria for those who could not go to Mar-Mina’s.
Five committees were formed by the Coptic Church to manage the care of the injured—socially, psychologically and financially. According to Fr Ruweis Marqus, deputy to Pope Shenouda III, each committee is formed of priests and members of the Coptic Melli (Community) Council.
Another committee was formed, Fr Ruweis said, for crisis management to handle the needs of the families of the dead and the injured. Financially, these needs were met through individual donations presented to the Church.
Watani visited the family of Samuel Girgis, an engineer who died at the age of 32, a victim of the bombing. Girgis had been married for three years and had one daughter, Mirulla, who is 20 months old and is constantly asking for her father. The family said they had been in church for a service that ends at midnight on New Year Eve. “When the explosion occurred we looked for Samuel but found him neither among the dead nor the injured. The following afternoon we were informed some patients had been moved to the educational public hospital and we rushed there where we found Samuel lying on a stretcher in a very bad condition in the corridor leading to the emergency room. He felt very cold; his clothes were burnt, but there were no blankets. His body, feet and ears were blackened and bleeding.
Two hours later he was moved to the intensive care unit where he spent 10 days until he was moved, together with other injured persons to a specialised hospital in Cairo at the orders of the then Health Minister Hatem al-Gabali.
“Samuel was later moved to the UK for treatment, the expense of which was borne by several Coptic businessmen. But his condition had deteriorated so badly; the doctors at Morriston Hospital in Wales discovered several metal splinters in his body. On 22 January, he breathed his last.”
Watani’s Robeir al-Faris visited 26-year-old Ingy Azer who is among the injured at St Mark hospital in Alexandria. Ingy was born in Cairo but got married and went to live in Alexandria with her husband. She was an employee with the electricity company in Alexandria and was three-months pregnant when she was hit during the New Year Eve bombing at the Church of the Saints. Ingy now lies in hospital with several injuries, but cannot be X-rayed or given strong medicine because it would harm her baby. Ingy had been waiting in front of the church that fateful night while her husband drove the car out of the parking lot when the explosion occurred. Despite the pain she suffers, Ingy is grateful she has not lost her baby. I asked her, “What would you like to name the baby?” If a boy, she said, she would name him Martyrus, and if a girl Martiriya.