Pope Tawadros has been back since 8 January at the papal headquarters in St Mark’s Cathedral grounds in Abassiya, Cairo, getting some much needed rest.
Copts and Egyptians in general had had a fright on Christmas Eve [Copts celebrate Christmas on 7 January] when, as Pope Tawadros presided over the first part of Midnight Mass at the Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ in Egypt’s Administrative Capital some 50km east of Cairo, he showed signs of extreme tiredness. He asked for a chair to sit down as he said his sermon, since he was visibly too tired to remain standing. He looked weak, and he later let Anba Danial, Metropolitan of Maadi and Secretary-General of the Holy Synod, preside over Mass in his stead. He was handed a glass of water with sugar to pep him up.
The following day, 7 January, Pope Tawadros checked into hospital upon doctors’ advice, in order to conduct medical investigations.
President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi called the Pope to ask about his health; Pope Tawadros replied by reassuring him and thanking him for his concern.
In a short talk with MeSat satellite channel on 7 January at St Mark’s Cathedral, Pope Tawadros reassured the Coptic public about his health, saying that the extreme fatigue he felt during Christmas Eve owed to tiredness following an influenza attack last week, in addition to a charged workload before Christmas.
The Coptic Orthodox Church issued a statement on the evening of 7 January to reassure the Coptic congregation that Pope Tawadros was in good health.
The statement read:
“In the aftermath of the visibly extreme exhaustion displayed by Pope Tawadros II during Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at the Cathedral of the Nativity and the consequent concern felt by Copts about his health, the Pope checked into hospital on 7 January for medical tests.
“Results of the tests confirmed that the Pope was in very good health; his exhaustion on Christmas Eve owed to tiredness following a charged workload before Christmas. During that period, the Pope was busy with pastoral care in addition to receiving numerous officials who expressed their good wishes for Christmas.
“We reassure all Copts that His Holiness is fine and will resume his normal pastoral activities within a few days by God’s will.”
Visit to Assiut postponed
Coincidentally, the Coptic Church in Assiut announced that the pastoral visit of Pope Tawadros II to Assiut, which was scheduled to start on 11 January, was postponed on advice of the Pope’s doctors.
The Pope’s anticipated visit was to be his fourth to Assiut. It would have included consecration of a number of churches, and participation in the golden jubilee celebration of the Clerical College in the monastery of the Holy Virgin in Muharraq some 20km north of Assiut; Muharraq is among the sites on the Trail of the Holy Family Flight into Egypt. The Pope was also scheduled to visit Dronka on Assiut’s Western Mountain, another spot where the Holy Family lived in a grotto. Other visits included the rock-hewn Hanging Monastery of Mar-Mina, and the church of Mar-Girgis (St George) in Assiut, which had been burnt by Muslim Brother supporters on 3 July 2013, but was rebuilt and restored by the Egyptian army. A number of seminars and get-togethers had also been scheduled with the clergy and congregation of Assiut Diocese.
No alternative date has yet been set for the postponed visit.
11 January 2023