Thousands join pope Shenuda for Coptic Christmas

Posted On January 7, 2007

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Cairo, Egypt > Thousands of Copts joined their pope Shenuda III at Saint Mark’s Cathedral here overnight Saturday-Sunday to celebrate Orthodox Christmas.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak sent a top government official to represent him at the midnight mass, which was attended by many young people. January 7, Orthodox Christmas Day, has been a nationwide holiday in Egypt for the past three years.

After the mass, the faithful were to break their 45-day fast during which they did not eat any food “with a soul” meaning coming from an animal. The traditional meal after the all-vegetarian diet is the “fatta”, a mixture of meat, rice, and bread fried in butter with garlic sauce.

The Coptic Church, the largest Christian community in the East, has about five to six million members, according to official figures, and 10 million according to Church estimates.

The Egyptian Government includes only two Copts: Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali and Secretary of State for the Environment Maged George Elias.