To mark the Arbaeen of the Boutorossiya martyrs Pope Tawadros II presided over Holy Mass yesterday at al-Boutossiya (St Peter and St Paul’s) church in Abbassiya, Cairo. The Arbaeen, literally forty, is a ceremonial marking the 40th day on the death of a person, a tradition that goes back to ancient Egypt and was related to the mummification process, but which Copts still keep to this day.
The 28 Boutrossiya martyrs lost their lives on11 December 2016 when a suicide bomber broke into the church during Sunday Mass and directly blew himself up in the midst of the congregation.
The Arbaeen Mass was attended by the families and friends of the martyrs, members of the Holy Synod and clergy as well as scores of Copts who had come to share in the remembrance prayers.
After Mass, Pope Tawadros had breakfast with the families of the martyrs and offered each family a copy of the Holy Bible. This was not the first time the Pope had met the bereaved families; he had met them in the wake of the tragedy to offer them his condolences and comfort their hearts.
The Boutrossiya church, which was built by the Boutros Ghali family—hence its name—and which remains under their care, had itself sustained major damages after the blast. The church was repaired in record time by the Armed Forces as per the orders of President Sisi. Three weeks after the suicide attack, and ahead of schedule, it was ready for Pope Tawadros to celebrate Holy Mass to herald in the New Year 2017. The precious paintings of the church are still being looked into by experts to work on their restoration.
Even though the church is now fully restored—except for the paintings—the marble columns and stone walls were left partly scorched and pockmarked with the scars left by the shrapnel and, in testimony and remembrance of the tragic incident and the Christians who lost their lives for their faith.
24 January 2017