His name, Tawadros [Theodore] literally means ‘gift of God’.
In a ceremony that began at 7:00am last Sunday at St Mark’s cathedral in Abassiya, Cairo,
Pope Tawadros II was enthroned the 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St Mark.
The cathedral was decorated for the occasion with a flurry of white and red flowers, and the scouts and guides of the Church were on hand to usher the visitors and maintain order.
Guests included the presidential representative Mohamed Rifaa Tahtawi, the premier Hisham Qandil, the heads of political parties and movements, current and former cabinet members, as well as a number of public figures. The various Churches in Egypt as well as Churches from all over the world shared in the ceremony.
Participating were representatives of the Vatican, as well as of Churches from Armenia, Austria, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Gabon, Greece, India, Jerusalem, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Russia, Syria, Sweden, and the UK. There were also representatives of the World Council of Churches, and the councils of Churches of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia, Canada, and the Pacific.
Holy Mass began and, once the Synaxarium (the history of the saints) was read, the enthronement ceremony began. The enthronement is usually placed right after the Synaxarium, to remind that the new pope is the last in a line of a two-centuries-old tradition of serving the Lord.
“We name you, Tawadros II, pope”
The bishops and deacons left the church in a long double file. The head deacon was the last to go and closed the door behind him. The deacons waited until the procession of bishops reached the papal premises and brought out Anba Tawadros and headed with him back to the church. The church bells rang gleefully. The scouts and guides welcomed him with a fanfare of trumpet call and drums, and an archway of flags held overhead till he reached the church door.
There he was handed the key—a large, ornamented, symbolic key—to open the door; since he who opens is the one who has the authority. Anba Tawadros opened it as he said: “Open for me the gates of righteousness that I may go in and praise the Lord.”
The door opened; the deacon procession went in first chanting a joyful melody, followed by the bishop procession ushering Anba Tawadros in his black robe and headdress, flanked by Acting Patriarch Anba Pachomeus, and Anba Sarapamoun, abbot of Anba-Bishoi monastery in the Western desert where Anba Tawadros took orders back in 1988.
Anba Tawadros, who looked genuinely solemn, was moved to tears when he was led to the door of the sanctuary where he knelt and prayed. He was then made to stand before a small chair facing the altar, with his back to the congregation.
The Acting Patriarch made the Sign of the Cross three times over the head of Anba Tawadros, each time saying: ““We name you, Tawadros II: pope, patriarch, master, and head of the bishops of the See of St Mark.” The new Pope’s tears again flowed beyond control.
The shepherd’s staff
The bishops read the investiture canon by which Anba Tawadros was assigned the responsibility of patriarch, and by which he was entitled to reverence and obedience by all. The canon read that, once the Church had become widowed following the catastrophe of losing its 117 patriarch Pope Shenouda III, all the bishops had met and, after careful measures guided by the Holy Spirit, the righteous man who loves the Lord, Anba Tawadros, was chosen as the 118th patriarch. Anba Pachomeus then handed Anba Tawadros the written canon, wrapped into a scroll and bound with a red ribbon, saying: “Receive the investiture canon of the grand headship of the clergy for many years to come, filled with peace, honour, and glory.”
Anba Pachomeus then dressed the new Pope in the first two pieces of his papal vestments: the white monk’s bonnet with crosses embroidered around, and the white tunya, also embroidered with small crosses on the collar shoulders and sleeves, and two large crosses one in front and one on the back.
The gospels were placed on the head of Pope Tawadros II while the deacons chanted praises and “Axios”, literally “Worthy”.
The bishops approached the new Pope, in single file and each made the Sign of the Cross saying: “Blessed be Jesus Christ our Lord”.
The vesting of the new pope then began, and he was vested by Anba Pachomeus in the full papal regalia.
Meanwhile, the pastor’s staff and cross had been placed on the altar, and, once he was crowned, the new Pope was called to pick them up.
“Come forward and receive the shepherd’s staff from the hand of the Great Shepherd of shepherds Jesus Christ, to care for his flock and nurture them with the living Word. He has entrusted you with their souls, and of you will He require their blood.”
Pope Tawadros picked up the staff and cross, and was then led to the throne of St Mark, mounted its three steps, and was seated.
The Pope stood up and read from Psalm 73: “You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory. As for me, it is good to be close to the Lord. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds,” then from St John the reading of the good shepherd. Three times he said: “I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep,” and every time the deacons replied “Axios”.
Congratulations flowed in. All the bishops approached in single file to offer their allegiance and good wishes. Especially moving was the greeting of Anba Raphail, Bishop-General of Downtown Cairo, who approached Anba Tawadros with a warm embrace which the Pope engaged in with equal warmth. Both men are known to be fast friends; yet they had both been candidates for the papacy which Anba Tawadros was finally chosen for by the altar draw.
All the guests representing Churches from various places around the world also offered their good wishes. First among them was the word of the Patriarch of Antioch Mar-Ignatius Zaka who had come from Damascus on a wheelchair to attend. He congratulated the Coptic Church and the Pope Tawadros whom he pledged to pray for and support, especially given the hard times Egypt and the whole world are going through. When Pope Mar-Ignatius Zaka concluded his word, Pope Tawadros descended the throne and rushed to warmly thank him.
The Prime Minister was also among the well wishers since he had to leave early.
The son becomes the father
All throughout the ceremony, Pope Tawadros was visibly moved and appeared to view in awe and reverence the responsibility he was to shoulder. He broke into tears several times during the ceremony, and finally calmed down when he was crowned and seated on the throne of St Mark.
Especially moving for the new pope and for all the congregation was the fact that he was being enthroned by none other than his beloved spiritual father Anba Pachomeus, Archbishop of Beheira, Matrouh, and Pentapolis; and acting patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church during the interim period between the death of Pope Shenouda III last March and the seating of Pope Tawadros II today. When Anba Pachomeus at last announced he had carried out his mission as interim patriarch, handed over the Church to her new pastor, and was returning back to his parish and people Pope Tawadros, who was already crowned and seated on the throne, broke into an uncontrollable sob. Pope Tawadros is Anba Pachomeus’s disciple and had served under him since he was a young student and until he took orders, then later as Bishop-General of Beheira. That day, however, Anba Pachomeus declared that Anba Tawadros had become his father and that, as such, he owed the new Pope full reverence and service.
Visiting St Mark
To a deeply moved congregation, and upon request by Pope Tawadros, Anba Pachomeus read the first address of the new Pope to his people. Pope Tawadros focused on the need for one united flock, and a pastor who would work to serve and unite all with the bond of love. He thanked all who had come to share in the ceremony, and offered his sincere condolences to those who lost loved ones in the bus accident the day before in Manfalout, Upper Egypt. He asked for the congregation’s prayers for the Lord to help and support him carry out fully the responsibility he has been shouldered with.
Anba Pola, Bishop of Tanta and prime organiser of the enthronement ceremony, stood up and thanked every official and public figure by name for sharing in today’s event.
Holy Mass was then resumed. Once it was concluded, the new Pope and the bishops took off their cloaks and, in a processional and chanting praises—Anba Pachomeus was in the lead playing the cymbals with gusto—went down to the crypt under the main altar to visit the shrine of St Mark.
25 November 2012