Following the horrific attack on St. Mark’s Cathedral, many are hearing about Coptic Christians for the very first time.
According to the Coptic Encyclopedia, the word copt is from the Greek “Aigyptos,” which was derived from “Hikaptah,” one of the names for the first capital of Ancient Egypt, “Memphis.”
Today, “Coptic” is an adjective for Egyptian Christians.
The Coptic Church’s foundation can be found in St. Mark’s teachings, as it was St. Mark who brought Christianity to Egypt shortly after Christ’s ascension.
From its inception, the Coptic Church has made several contributions in modern Christian theology and is famous for its production of thousands of texts, biblical and theological studies and for their hundreds of scribes, who made copies of the Bible and other liturgical and theological books.
Monasticism, or living as a monk as a religious way of life, originated in Egypt and heavily influenced the Coptic Church’s tradition of submission and humbleness.
Coptic Christians are forbidden from worshiping Saints but every service is deeply founded in asking the Saints for their intercession.
Every Coptic Church is named after a Patron Saint but the most revered is St. Mary, the Holy Virgin.
They celebrate seven major Holy feasts and several minor ones to commemorate the Annunciation, Christmas, Theophany (apparitions), Palm Sunday, Easter, the Ascension and the Pentecost.
What makes the Copts stand out in particular are their seasons of fasting. Of the 365 days of each year, Copts fast over 210 days. During these fasts, no animal products are consumed nor may anyone eat or drink between sunrise and sunset.
The Coptic Orthodox Church’s clergy is led by the Pope of Alexandria and Bishops who oversee the priests ordained in their dioceses.
It is one of the oldest Christian communities in the world and gave the world the first school of catechesis, as well as the blessing of the monastic tradition.
Today, there are over several Coptic Bishops governing dioceses in Egypt, Sudan, Jerusalem, Western Africa, France, England and the United States.
In the 5th Century, the Coptic Church was in danger of being exiled but, through faith in God and determination, the Church survived – as it has since the beginning of its long history of persecution since 68 A.D.
Today, the Coptic Christians in regions governed by the Islamic State remain beneath the boot of oppression. The Muslim majority have refused to help as religious discrimination continues to climb against Copts.
Please pray the Coptic Christians are protected beneath the protection of the Father’s love. Pray for change in Africa and an end to ongoing acts of terrorism at their expense.