As Egypt marks a new Coptic year, Pope Tawadros II says he believes the country will quickly recover from strife.
"We believe that [Egypt] is like a woman in labour, who is in pain. After a few hours, all of this will turn into happiness when a child is born and a new life begins," he said during celebrations of the Nayrouz, the Coptic new year, at St Mark's Coptic Cathedral in Abbasiya, Cairo.
The Pope's statements came in the first sermon he gave at the Cathedral in ten weeks, as the weekly tradition was repeatedly canceled due to ongoing strife in Egypt since president Mohamed Morsi's ouster on 3 July.
Wednesday marks the first day of the year 1730 in the Coptic calendar, starting with the month Tout.
The calendar first came into place in 284 AD, marking the beginning of Roman Emperor Diocletian's rule in Egypt, an era marred by deadly persecution of the Coptic population.
The Coptic calendar system is still used by Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church. It includes 12 months that have kept their original names from Pharoanic times. It is also part of Egyptian agricultural life, as farmers depend on it for regulating their seasonal work.