Abune Mathias I, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tawahedo Church, is on a six-day visit to Egypt in response to an invitation extended to him by the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, pope Tawadros II. Abune Mathias arrived to Cairo yesterday; he was received at the airport by three Coptic bishops: Anba Bishoi of Damietta, Bishop-General Anba Yu’annis, and Anba Pimen of Qos. He later had meetings with Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and Pope Tawadros. This is the first visit the Ethiopian Pope, the sixth patriarch of the Ethiopian Church, pays to Egypt since he was enthroned in March 2013.
“Our two Churches,” Pope Tawadros said during his meeting with Abune Mathias, “are tied by the River Nile which strongly binds our countries,” recalled the historical relations between the two churches. The Ethiopian Church had been an archdiocese of the Coptic Church till the 1950s when it was granted autonomy and had its own patriarchs; it is now a sister Church.
The two popes exchanged souvenirs then Abune Mathias and the delegation accompanying him went on a visit to Old (Coptic) Cairo and the Hanging Church which has been recently renovated.
This morning, Abune Mathias presided over Holy Mass at the church of the Holy Virgin in Zaitoun, Cairo, the site of the manifestation of St mary in 1968. Mass was sung in the Coptic, Ethiopian, and Arabic languages.
Taking part in the Holy Mass were a number Egyptian bishops: Anba Bishoi; Anba Raphael, Secretary-General of the Holy Synod; Anba Pimen who is also coordinator of the Egyptian-Ethiopian ties; Anba Yu’annis; and Anba Yulius, Bishop of Old Cairo. A large Ethiopian congregation who reside in Egypt attended Mass.
Abune Mathias is expected in Alexandria on Monday and Tuesday where he will visit the Church of Anba Takla in Ibrahimiya as well as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. His Holiness will then visit the Mar-Mina Monastery in Maryout, some 70km southwest Alexandria.
On Wednesday, Abuna Mathias will attend the weekly lecture by Pope Tawadros at the St Mark’s Cathedral in Abbassiya, Cairo, where he will get to meet the Coptic congregation and be welcomed by them.
11 January 2015