By RANY MOSTAFA
CAIRO: Coptic Christians across Egypt celebrated Friday the Feast of St. Mary. According to Christian belief, the feast marks the assumption of the Virgin Mary’s body, which was carried by the angels to heaven after the end of her earthly life.
Coptic families flocked to several Coptic Churches across Egypt to celebrate the feast, known in Coptic as Dormition of Theotokos and in Arabic as Eid al-Adra, or ‘Feast of the Virgin,’ with chants relevant to the occasion.
The Virgin Mary Church in Cairo’s northern district of Mostorod, which houses representations of the Holy Family’s journey in Egypt, witnessed a notable turnout to celebrate the holy feast and to break the 15-day fast that preceded it, according to Al-Shorouq.
This year, the fast of the Virgin Mary began on the 7th day of the Coptic month of Mesora and ended on the 21st, this year falling on Aug. 7-21, with the Feast of the Assumption of Saint Mary celebrated on the 22nd, Bishop Angaelos, formerly the private secretary to the late Pope Shenouda III, was quoted as saying by Al-Ahram Friday.
“Copts fast for two weeks prior to the feast in order to ask for the intercessions of the Virgin Mary,” Angaelos said.
In Upper Egypt’s governorate of Asyut, the feast culminates the end of the celebration of Mulid al-Adra, or the ‘Birthday of the Virgin,’ which features circus artists, singing, street performances, tattoos of religious symbols and games with tents set up to house thousands of Copts, Coptic history professor at Minya University’s Faculty of Tourism and Hotels Fathy Khourshid told The Cairo Post Saturday.
“The feast is usually preceded by Mulids in churches and monasteries where Jesus and the Virgin Mary are thought to have stayed during their Holy Journey in Egypt,” Khourshid said.
These churches include the Virgin Mary Monastery in Asyut, the Virgin Monastery in Bayad Al-Arab in Beni Suef, and the Virgin Mary Church in Cairo’s district of al-Zatoon, in which the Virgin was reportedly sighted in 1968, he added.
Copts represent approximately 10 percent of Egypt’s population, making it the largest Christian community in the Middle East and Africa, said Khourshid. He said he wanted to join Copts in Egypt and across the world in their celebrations glorifying the Virgin Mary and extended his greetings to them.