Celebrating the Pope’s arbaeen

25-04-2012 06:07 PM

Victor Salama - Nader Shukry - Photos by Nasser Sobhy and Eid Saad


“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech 4:6)

The Coptic Orthodox Church has celebrated the arbaeen of Pope Shenouda III, the passage of 40 days since his death at age 89. Celebrating arbaeen is a tradition that goes back to

“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech 4:6)
The Coptic Orthodox Church has celebrated the arbaeen of Pope Shenouda III, the passage of 40 days since his death at age 89. Celebrating arbaeen is a tradition that goes back to B abc0 (4).jpgancient Egypt and was linked to the mummification process, but has today been Christianised by the Egyptian Church and is usually marked with Holy Mass.
On Tuesday evening a commemoration ceremony was held during which a number of public figures and clergy talked and reminisced about Pope Shenouda. Participating were members of the Military Council, ministers and ambassadors of Arab and foreign countries, MPs, governors, as well as a number of public figures
                                                                                                                                         B abc0 (6).jpg  Genius of love
“In the name of the God Whom we all worship,” such was Pope Shenouda’s all time opening address to all the world conventions in which he used to partake, recounted Sheikh Hamdi Zaqzouq, former Minister of Endowments. In his word, Dr Zaqzouq stressed that the Pope was famous for working to unite rather than divide people. “He was loving and patriotic to the bone, said Zaqzouq, “and his words B abc0 (1).jpg‘Egypt is not a homeland we live in, but a homeland that lives in us’ will go down in history.”
Ali al-Samman, head of the inter-religious dialogue committee, described Pope Shenouda as “a genius of love, because he made this simple word ‘love’ the essence of his life,” Dr Samman said. He insisted that Pope Shenouda’s works and thought ought to be included in school curricula, in order to spread the true meaning of love and devotion, and to reject notions of violence and extremism.                                                  
The Pope’s wisdom in dealing with terrorism and sectarian strife was the focus of the word of Mohammed Ali Bishr, member of the Guidance Office of the Muslim Brotherhood, who said Pope Shenouda had always been keen to open channels of sympathetic dialogue with all. B abc0 (3).jpg
For Safwat al-Bayadi, head of the Evangelical Church in Egypt Pope Shenouda was a man of exemplary dedication, under whom the Coptic Church spread worldwide. He cared for the poor, the sick and the underprivileged, and lived his life a model of the honest shepherd. 
Pope Shenouda was definitely a milestone in Egyptian history, said Dr Bayadi who described him as a man with a child’s and a lion’s heart at the same time. He also pointed out to the great effort ventured by the late Pope in uniting the Church.
                                                                                                                                            
“I love you Egypt”
“We ask the Lord to give us the good shepherd that would continue along the path of Pope Shenouda III,” Greek Orthodox Bishop of Tanta, Egypt, Nicolas Antonius. 
The Apostolic Nuncio of Holy See (Vatican City) in Egypt, Michael Fitzgerald, focused on Pope Shenouda as a man of peace, even in the hardest time of his illness. 
A documentary film of a poem by Pope Shenouda III was screened, recited by him, in which he expressed his love for everything and every Egyptian “I love you, Egypt,” he said, “I NAS_7318.JPGloveyour Nile, your land, your fields, your deserts, your Christians and your Muslims.” 
The final word was that of the locum tenens, acting patriarch, of the Coptic Orthodox Church and Archbishop of Beheira, Anba Pachomeus, who said that the Holy Spirit worked through Pope Shenouda to care for the flock  and take the Coptic Church to new frontiers. It was this Holy Spirit, he said, that will continue to care for and bless the Church. “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech 4:6), Anba Pachomeus strongly reminded.
Prayers for his soul
On Wednesday, the arbaeen proper, Holy Mass was held in all Coptic Orthodox churches all over Egypt. Copts flocked to pray for their beloved late Pope and to ask the Lord to “grant them a shepherd to care for the flock in purity and fairness”. 
At St Mark’s cathedral in Abassiya, Cairo, Anba Pachomeus presided over Holy Mass. The cathedral was brimming full with worshippers who, for the sake of good order, had required special invitations to attend.
On the third day (Thursday) Holy Mass will be held at the desert monastery of Anba BishoiNAS_7280.JPG  where the late Pope was buried. This was exclusively attended by members of the clergy.
                                                                                                                                          
WATANI International
25 April 2012 
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