Pope Tawadros II of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church will lead on Saturday evening the first mass ever at the new Nativity of Christ Cathedral in the new administrative capital on the occasion of the Coptic Orthodox Christmas.
ِAccording to Egyptian state TV, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and other top state officials are expected to attend the mass.
The Coptic church is providing several buses starting Saturday at noon for worshippers who would like to attend mass at the new cathedral in the new administrative capital, which is located 28 miles (45 kilometres) east of Cairo.
Coptic Orthodox Egyptians, who make up around 90 percent of all Christians in the country, celebrate Christmas on 7 January. A minority of non-Orthodox Christians observed the holiday on 25 December.
In January 2017, following twin terrorist attacks that killed at least 27 Coptic Egyptians at St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church in Cairo in December 2016, President El-Sisi commissioned the construction of the country’s largest mosque and church in the new administrative capital to become symbols of coexistence and national unity.
The Nativity of Christ Cathedral would be, upon-completion, the largest church in the Middle East, with a capacity to accommodate 8,200 worshippers.
The new cathedral stands at the heart of a large complex built on 15 feddans, and includes a papal residence, a reception hall, meeting halls and offices.
The cathedral features two large vaults, 40 metres wide, which cover the central and cross nave. At their intersection a dome stands on four central arches. The two ends of the cross nave, and the western end of the central nave, terminate in large semi-domes while the apse area is flanked on the outside by two 60-metre spires.
The country’s new administrative capital is set to be completed in 2020 and is part of the government’s plan to expand urban areas to deal with the country's rapid population growth and improve the nation's infrastructure.
The Coptic Orthodox Church has held its Christmas mass at the Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo since the country's main cathedral was built.
Egyptian police and army forces have been on high alert to secure the country's Christmas celebrations.
The Ministry of Interior has deployed 230,000 security personnel to secure 2,626 churches nationwide.