Boutrossiya church in Abbassiya, Cairo, which was the scene of a suicide bombing during Sunday Mass on 11 December [http://en.wataninet.com/coptic-affairs-coptic-affairs/sectarian/at- boutrossiya-church- egypts-heart- bleeds/18249/] has been fully repaired and reopened for prayer on New Year Eve. The blast left 27 dead and scores injured, and the church itself incurred extensive damage [http://bit.ly/2i9FChj]. The bomber was identified as the 22-year- old Islamist Mahmoud Shafiq Muhammad Mustafa from Fayoum, and three of his accomplices were arrested.
Testimony in marble and stone
Upon President Sisi’s demand, the Armed Forces’ construction department has repaired and restored the church. The President had demanded that the church would be ready to host Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve—Copts celebrate Christmas on the 29th of the Coptic (Egyptian) month of Kiahk, 7 January—but the army completed the work a week ahead of schedule and handed it over on 30 December 2016. A team of Italian specialists in icon restoration are handling the work on the icons which go back to the outset of the 20th century and were painted by the Italian Primo Panciroli. The Italian restorers will continue their meticulous work on the icons even while normal services and worship take place in the church.
The repair and restoration by the Armed Forces involved the wooden roof, the cracks in the walls, the doors, and the windows. The damaged chandeliers were replaced by old-style ones that had been in storage, and new pews and drapes were brought in.
The Boutrossiya, a church consecrated to St Peter and St Paul, was built by and remains under the care of the prominent Coptic Boutros-Ghali family. Under the church is a crypt that acts as a burial place for the family.
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Worth noting is that, despite the recent repairs by the Armed Forces, the marble columns and stone walls were left pockmarked with the scars left by the shrapnel and partly scorched, in testimony and remembrance of the tragic incident and the Christians who lost their lives for their faith.
Pope prays New Year Mass at Boutrossiya
On the evening of Saturday 31 December 2016, Boutrossiya held the Kiahk Praises, evening services of prayer and praise that take place throughout the month of Kiahk and precede the Feast of the Nativity on 29 Kiahk. The congregation was engulfed in deep emotion mixed between the raw tragedy of the loved ones lost and the joy at having their church back in working order.
At dawn on Sunday 1 January 2017, Pope Tawadros presided over Holy Mass at Boutrossiya. Following Mass, he joined the families of the victims for breakfast at the hall in the church grounds.
Anba Raphail, Secretary-General of the Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod and Bishop-General of Downtown Cairo churches started a round of visits to the families of Boutrossiya victims during which he shares with them words of comfort and
blessing. He expects to cover all the visits within three days.