The grounds of the church of the Holy Virgin which was burned to the ground by
extremist Muslims last Thursday 11 May, today was the scene of the celebration of
Holy Mass by Anba Makarius, Bishop of Minya and Abu-Qurqas. Despite the
scorching hot weather Egypt is witnessing, with temperatures exceeding 47
degrees Celsius, a large congregation of some 500 filled the place. In his sermon,
Anba Makarius thanked the Coptic villagers for enduring the burning of their
church with patience and fortitude, saying: “This way you have willingly applied
the teachings of the Bible. You have ‘not answered evil with evil’; you have
‘blessed and not cursed’.” He also thanked the Muslim villagers who gave support
to the Copts.
After Mass, Anba Makarius visited the Coptic family whose house adjacent to the
church ground caught fire and suffered damages.
Last evening, a wedding was held on the grounds of the church. The newlyweds
said they did not mind the scorched ground and just added flowers and palm fronds
to make the place beautiful. Father Jonathan Adel, pastor of the Holy Virgin’s,
presided over the ceremony.
The church of the Holy Virgin in the village of al-Ismailiya al-Bahriya 6km north
of Minya, Upper Egypt, had been attacked by Muslim extremists during the dawn
hours on Thursday 11 May. They set it ablaze and burned it to the ground. The
church has been housed for more than a year now in a 180 square metre marquee
which acted as temporary premises for the congregation to participate in regular
services. The original building was closed in 2009 since it was unlicensed, but
there were talks between the Church on one hand and the local authorities to
reopen the closed church. The religious rites held under the marquee were public
and known to all.
On Saturday 14 May, security officials in Minya announced they had caught the
culprits who were behind the burning of the church. They are 24-year- old driver
Muhammad M. E., and 18-year- old peasant Ramadan M.A. They said they burned
the church because they had a dispute with the security guard guarding the church,
Ibrahim Shehata Attiya. Attiya is a member of the local security force and was
officially assigned to guard the church.
15 May 2016