Holy Mass was held yesterday Sunday 2 July at the Western Desert Monastery of St Samuel the Confessor, in honour of the Arbaeen of the 28 Copts killed on identity last May while on their way to the monastery. Arbaeen is literal for forty, and denotes 40 days on the death of a person; the date was honoured in ancient Egypt in connection with the mummification process, but Copts still mark it today with Holy Mass.
The Copts were on buses carrying them to the monastery; they were intercepted by masked men in four-wheel drive vehicles as they journeyed through the last 20km of unpaved sand road leading up to the monastery. The masked men demanded of the Copts to deny Christ, and shot them to death when they refused to do so. Ten children were among the 28 dead; 24 were injured. The passengers all came from the regions of Minya, and Beni Sweif, some 250km and 100km south of Cairo respectively. [http://en.wataninet.com/coptic-affairs-coptic-affairs/sectarian/killed-on-identity/20288/]
Bishop Anba Basilios, abbot of St Samuel’s, presided over the Arbaeen Mass on Sunday. Minya Governor Essam al-Bedeiwi attended—St Samuel’s lies in Minya governorate, some 200km southwest Cairo—as did Minya security chief General Mamdouh Abdel-Munsif. After Mass, Governor Bedeiwi handed the victims’ families cheques of EGP100,000 each, issued by the Ministry of Social Solidarity.
In a surprise move, Michael Atef Mounir, son of the martyr Atef Mounir, announced he was donating the EGP100,000 to a mosque and a church in Minya, the gesture confirming that the terrorist incident could not sour relations between Copts and Muslims in Egypt. He said EGP50,000 would go to a mosque in the village of Saft al-Labban, and the other EGP50,000 would go to the church of the Archangel Michael in the Minya village of al-Fikriya.
Arbaeen Mass has also been held today Monday 3 July by Anba Aghathon, Bishop of Maghagha and Edwa, in the village Deir al-Jarnous in Minya; and by Anba Stephanos, Bishop of al-Fashn and Biba in Ezbet Hanna in al-Fashn, Beni Sweif. On Tuesday 4 July, Anba Athanasius of Beni Mazar holds Arbaeen Mass in Beni Mazar; and on Wednesday 5 July Anba Macarius of Minya presides over another Mass in Abu-Qurqas. All these towns and villages were home to victims of the St Samuel bus attacks.
3 July 2017