Mourners still flock to St Mark's Cathedral to bid Pope farewell

Ahram Online , Monday 19 Mar 2012

Thousands of Coptic Christians continue to pay respects to Pope Shenouda, situated on St Mark's seat, despite Church announcement that cathedral gates would close following 3 deaths in Sunday stampedes

Mourners queue outside of main Coptic Cathedral in Cairo to take last look at Pope Shenouda (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Thousands of Coptic Christians and visitors continue to flock to St Mark’s Cathedral in Abbassiya Monday morning to bid farewell to the late Pope Shenouda III, despite three Coptic mourners suffocating to death and tens fainting in a stampede Sunday .

The announcement of the Coptic Orthodox Church on Sunday that it would close the cathedral gates did not succeed in reducing the crowds, as thousands camped in Cathedral Square waiting to pay their respects to the deceased pope, who has been positioned on the papal seat of Saint Mark for two days.

Mourners, who wish to have a final look at the late patriarch, continue to wait for hours in queues that stretch for kilometres from the church in Abbassiya district to the Hadayeq Al-Qobba neighbourhood.

18 million Coptic Christians worldwide have been mourning the death of their religious leader who passed away at 88 years old on Saturday after a battle with prostate cancer.

A 25-year-old girl in the Ismailiya governorate tried to commit suicide because of the Pope’s death but she was rescued.

A mass took place on Monday morning attended by 117 bishops of the Coptic Orthodox Church, who arrived Sunday evening and Monday morning from Europe, the US and other countries abroad.

The Church thanked the head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, for announcing on Saturday three days of official holiday for state-employed Christians of all denominations to allow them to pay their respects.

They also expressed their gratitude to the de-facto leader for assigning a military plane that will move the pope's body to the burial site, a monastery in Wadi Al-Natroun on the road between Cairo and Alexandria in the north of the country.

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