Egypt's Catholics will celebrate Christmas on Friday, amid what officials say is a heightened state of security.
The Patriarch of the Egyptian Catholic Church, Ibrahem Ishaq, will lead Christmas Eve mass on Thursday at the Virgin Lady Church in Cairo's northeastern Nasr City district, Spokesman of Egypt's Catholic Church Rafiq Gereich told Ahram Online.
Egypt's Christians make up about 10 percent of the country's 90 million population, with Catholics estimated at around 500,000 of the total.
Gregorious III Laham, Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, arrived in Cairo from Rome on Wednesday to take part in the celebrations.
He will lead the mass prayers in the patriarchate headquarters in Al-Daher district in central Cairo.
Officials say security will be beefed up around churches and monasteries countrywide, with army personnel taking part in safeguarding the sites.
Unlike other western denominations who celebrate Christmas on 25 December, Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Christians celebrate on 7 January due to the use of a different calendar--the Julian calendar.