Pope Tawadros II is back home this after a four-day visit to Beirut in Lebanon where he participated in the prayers held by the Armenian Orthodox Church for the sanctification of the Holy Chrism, Myron Oil. Catholicos Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia, had extended an invitation to Pope Tawadros to partake in the consecration process which takes place every seven years.
The ceremony was attended by Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Theodore II, the Eastern [Greek] Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, and Patriarch Basil Thomas of the Indian Orthodox Church. Also attending were Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi, the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and Cardinal of the Catholic Church; Patriarch Ignatius Youssef Yunan, Patriarch of the Syrian Catholic Church; and Cardinal Kurt Koch who represented Pope Francis.
Accompanying Pope Tawadros on his Beirut visit were Anba Bishoi, Bishop of Damietta; Anba Marqus, Bishop-General of Hadayiq al-Qubba; papal secretary Father Ammonius Adel; and Girgis Saleh, Professor at the Coptic Orthodox Clerical College who has behind him a wide experience in ecumenical work. The Pope was received there by Catholicos Aram I; Anba Abraam, Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Jerusalem, Egypt’s ambassador to Beirut Muhammad Badreddine; Egyptian Consul Sherif Bahrawi; as well as representatives from the Armenian, Coptic and Syrian Churches.
The sanctification process started on the evening of Saturday 18 July in front of the Genocide Memorial at the Holy Virgin’s Monastery in Bikfaya. Catholicos Aram I was assisted by the prelates of the dioceses of the Catholicosate of Cilicia; two representatives of the Catholicosate of Holy Etchmidadzin: Bishop Vazken Mirzakhanian Primate of the Armenian Church in Georgia; and Bishop Vartan Navasartian, Prelate of Georgia; as well as two representatives from the Patriarchate of Constantinople: Archbishop Aram Ateshian who is the Locum Tenens, and Bishop Sahak Mashalian.
The ceremony began with readings from the Bible and special prayers recited by His Holiness and the bishops, beseeching the intercession of the Holy Spirit. To the original mixture of oil, spices, herbs and essence of different plants, prepared 40 days ago, His Holiness added the essence of rose and the Holy Muron from Etchmiadzin, symbolising the unity of the Armenian Church. He then added the old Muron, which is the remnant of the healing oil St Thaddeus brought to Armenia and the Holy Muron which was blessed by St Gregory the Illuminator. At the end, His Holiness mixed everything in the special Muron cauldron with the relic of the right hand of St. Gregory the Illuminator.
On Sunday morning the attendants participated in the sanctification of the Holy Oil in the St Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in Antelias. Pope Tawadros delivered a speech where he stressed that the participation of the Coptic Orthodox Church in such celebrations is but an “expression of the Christian love that we hold in our hearts to Jesus Christ.” In his speech Pope Tawadros acknowledged the Armenian Genocide which marks its 100th anniversary this year.
During his short stay in Beirut, Pope Tawadros presided over the evening prayers in the Coptic Orthodox church of St Mark, during which he delivered a sermon about the saints whom the Coptic Orthodox Church venerates during the month of July, t most prominent among them being St Peter and St Paul. The Pope met Eastern Christians and visited the Armenian Genocide Orphans’ Aram Bezikian Museum as well as the old town of Barbara.
On the eve of his return to Cairo, Ambassador Badreddine held a reception in his honour, which was attended by a plethora of Egyptian and Lebanese figures as well as representatives of the Church and the Lebanese Islamic authority.
21 July 2015