Follow the mass funeral of late Pope Shenouda III at St. Mark’s Cathedral in the district of Abbasiya, Cairo, through Ahram Online’s blow-by-blow coverage
Tens of thousands of mourners are gathering Tuesday in front of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Abbassiya, Cairo, for the funeral of the Coptic Orthodox Church’s leader, Pope Shenouda III who died Saturday at the age of 88.
The service is due to start at 11am as flocks of Egyptian Christians keep heading to the Cathedral. Not all the mourners, however, will be able to bid farewell and recite prayers from inside the prestigious worship house as only 4,000 invitation holders are allowed to get in.
Numerous public figures are attending the funeral, including international guests, politicians and presidential hopefuls.
Military forces are deployed in front of the Cathedral to provide security and maintain order if needed, following the death of three mourners suffocating to death and 137 injured in stampedes since Sunday.
The body of the Pope would be buried at of Egypt’s St Bishoy Monastery, in line with the late pope’s last will and testament. The monastery is situated along the Cairo-Alexandria desert road in northern Egypt’s Wadi Al-Natroun region.
Pope Shenouda’s body was in full papal regalia on the seat of St Mark since his death but late on Monday the corpse was laid in an open casket.
10:10 Inside the Cathedral, thousands of politicians religious leaders and public figures are paying respect to the late Pope as hymns are being recited. Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri, his predecessor Essam Sharaf, Coptic big screen star Hany Ramzy, Islamic preacher Amr Khlaed and Tourism Minister Mounir Fakri Abdel are among the attendees.
10:20 Guest Prayers are underway in the cathedral as Pope Shenouda III’s body lie in an open casket. Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is giving a speech to bid farewell for his late counterpart. He said Shenouda is sitting with the angels and is praying for us.
10:30 According to an Ahram Online reporter, all main streets have been blocked by military and police forces who are only allowing invitation holders to pass. Those without invitations will have to take detours to reach the cathedral.
10: 35 Many of the doors of the Cathedral are closed according to Ahram Online reporters to avoid stampedes and organise the crowd as the numbers are estimated at hundreds of thousands. The son of late president Gamal Abdel-Nasser, Abdel Hakim, is among the attendees inside. Coptic business tycoon Naguib Sawiris is sitting in the front row next to the casket.