Shenouda III, the leader of the Coptic Christian community, consecrated the first Coptic church in Hungary on Sunday.
The Coptic Pope, as he is called in the Egyptian religious community, consecrated the church in a three-hour ceremony in the presence of five Coptic bishops and hundreds of faithful in Budapest’s 18th district amid tight security measures.
The church was dedicated to Mother of God, the Holy Virgin Mary, and Archangel Michael.
The Coptic Pope prayed for the ill, those on the way, the air and the crops, the dead and the victims as well as for peace, the religious community and the president of Egypt, then consecrated all the three altars, the altar-cloths, the holy chalices, the icons and the paintings in the church.
Two hundred believers who failed to enter the crowded church followed the liturgy on a huge screen.
Pope Shenouda III, head of the Christian church which was founded, according to tradition, by Saint Mark, arrived in Hungary on Friday on the invitation of Deputy Premier Zsolt Semjen to attend celebrations on Saint Stephen’s Day, Hungary’s national holiday of August 20.
Shenouda III met President Pal Schmitt and Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and held talks with Semjen.
The deputy prime minister described the Coptic Pope’s visit as an outstanding event of dialogue between Eastern and Western churches.
Pope Shenouda III called the consecration an important milestone from the aspect of his church’s presence in Eastern Europe.
Expressing pleasure over the warm welcome in Hungary, he said, “I would like to maintain friendly relations with Hungarians throughout my life.”