The funeral service for Sister Athnasia of the convent of Mar-Girgis (St George) in Masr al-Qadeema (Old Cairo) was held yesterday at the convent’s church. Her body had been delivered to the convent late on the evening of the day before and the coffin was placed in church as her sister nuns sang Midnight Praise and attended Holy Mass in the morning. After Mass the funeral was held, presided over by four bishops: Bishop-General Anba Ermiya; Anba Danial, abbot of the desert monastery of Anba Pola near the Red Sea; Anba Yulius, Bishop-general of Masr al-Qadeema churches; and Anba Marcos, Bishop-General of Hadayeq al-Qubba, al-Waili and Mashiyat al-Sadr in Cairo.
The Coptic nun Athnasia from the convent of Mar-Girgis (St George) in Masr al-Qadeema (Old Cairo) lost her life on 5 July while in a car on the Cairo Alexandria Desert Road. Sister Athnasia was riding with two other nuns, a female doctor, and the driver from her convent to another Mar-Girgis convent in al-Khatatba off the Cairo Alexandria desert highway. At 58 kilometers from Cairo, their car was caught in a crossfire between two cars that were driving by, the passengers of which were shooting at one another.
Mar-Girgis convent in Masr al-Qadeema issued a statement in which it said that Sister Athnasis lost her life on the spot after she was hit by a number of shots. The other passengers and the driver are safe.
It was thought then that a police officer and his son had also been killed in the shootout, but it later was discovered that it was not so. One man died, the businessman Abdel-Halim Hemeida who was also a local politician. He was driving home from the airport after arriving from pilgrimage to Mecca; his son Hamza, 22, was driving. The attackers waited for them to drive by and shot at them with automatic weapons. Hamza was injured in the leg and foot, but was moved to hospital and underwent surgery. Hamza said the attackers belonged to a Bedouin family that was in dispute with his father’s family over a piece of land in the vicinity of Wadi al-Natroun. One of the Bedouins had been killed and his family had vowed a vendetta. He accused two men by name; the police are searching for them.
Sister Athnasia, who was shot dead in the crossfire, was born in 1962 and took orders in 1992. She was the sister of the late Fr Yustus who was a monk and priest at the monastery of Anba Pola, and Fr Arsanius al-Malawani who is pastor of the church of the Holy Virgin in Salmaniya in the southern province of Nag Hammadi where the Malawanis are a well-respected family.
7 July 2016