Pope Tawadros II leads Palm Sunday mass at St.Marks Cathedral in Alexandria on Sunday (Photo : Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt)
This is the first time Pope Tawadros II has led a Palm Sunday mass at the Cathedral of St. Mark in Alexandria since the two deadly attacks that targeted it and the Mar Girgis Cathedral in Tanta in 2017, which led to the death of 47 people and the injury of 100 others.
It is also the first Palm Sunday mass to be held in the Cathedral at full capacity after two years of following coronavirus safety guidelines.
Last year, the pope led the Palm Sunday mass at the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary, the Martyr Abi Sven, and Saint Anba Karas in Alexandria with limited attendance.
In 2020, the Palm Sunday mass was held at Saint Pishoy Monastery in Wadi El-Natroun, Behaira, to an empty hall due to restrictions over the outbreak of the pandemic in the country.
The average daily coronavirus infection and deaths tolls in Egypt have continued to decline this past week, with the country reporting an average of 124 infections and six deaths per day, according to the latest weekly update issued by the ministry on Saturday.
Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels, when he was received by the people of Jerusalem with palm leaves.
According to the traditions of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the faithful start a totally vegan fast 55 days ahead of Easter Sunday. For the last week of the fast, devout Copts refrain from eating desserts and fruits. Some also observe a dawn to dusk fast that is followed by a vegan meal.
Palm Sunday marks the first day of the Holy Week that also has Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, which is Easter’s eve — when Copts usually go to church before gathering at night to celebrate and break their 55-day fast.