Coptic Cathedral closed; pope’s funeral by invitation only

20/3/2012

Bishop Paul of Tanta has declared that the doors of the St Mark’s Cathedral in Abbasiya are closed, and no one will be permitted to enter today to allow the military police to prepare for the funeral ceremony of Pope Shenouda III on Tuesday.

Deputy Minister of Health Hisham Shiha stated that there had been 3 deaths and 137 injuries due to stampedes at the cathedral over the last two days. Christians have been flocking to the cathedral, where the pope’s body is lying in state.

The bishop also announced that only invitation holders would be allowed to enter the Cathedral for the funeral ceremony tomorrow; the invitations have been issued from headquarters and distributed through churches.

Shenouda, the 117th patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, died on Saturday at the age of 88, following protracted battles with a number of illnesses.

Tens of thousands of Egyptians have flocked to take a final look at the late pope on his papal seat in the cathedral. Hundreds of thousands are expected to attend his funeral today.

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