Home >Documents >Pope Shenouda III series 2 - WordPress.com...His Holiness Pope Shenouda III Pope and Patriarch of...

Pope Shenouda III series 2 - WordPress.com...His Holiness Pope Shenouda III Pope and Patriarch of...

Date post:01-Oct-2020
View:2 times
Download:0 times
Share this document with a friend
  • 1

    Pope Shenouda III series 2

    The Holy Virgin St. Mary



    Translated from the Arabic edition of 1999

    Available from: http://www.copticchurch.net


  • 2

    Name of the book: The Holy Virgin St. Mary Author: His Holiness Pope Shenouda III

    Editor: Orthodox Coptic Clerical College, Cairo Edition: 1999 Press: Amba Rueiss, (Offset) Deposition number at "The Library": 9173/96

    All rights reserved to the author His Holiness Pope Shenouda III

    Pope and Patriarch of the See of Alexandria and of all the Predication of the Evangelist St. Mark

  • 3

    In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

    the One God, Amen

    In this pamphlet, you read about: Our mother the Saint Holy Virgin The greatness of the Virgin The oldest churches in her name A life which was surrounded by miracles The Virgin's fast Her feasts The Vigin in the Faith Her surnames and symbols The Virgin's virtues Blessing her. Her icons. Pope Shenouda III

  • 4


    There is no woman about whom the prophets prophesied, and about whom the Holy Bible cared, like the Virgin Mary.......There are numerous symbols about her in the Old Testament. In the New Testament also, there are her biography, her praise, and the miracles. How many are the glorifying expressions and the contemplations, which were cited about the Virgin in the books of the fathers.........How full of praise are the surnames by which the Church calls her, and which are inspired from the Spirit of the Holy Bible.......! She is the mother of all of us, the lady of all of us, the pride of our kind, the queen at the right side of the King, the Virgin with perpetual virginity, the pure, the filled with grace, the saint Mary, the powerful and helpful compassionate mother, the mother of the Light, the mother of mercy and salvation, the true vine. This is the one whom the Church elevates over the rank of archangels, so that we say about her in her hymns and songs: O Mary, you have been raised above the cherubims, and have become higher than the seraphims, O Mary. Mary who was bred up in the temple, and lived the life of prayer and contemplation since her childhood, and who was the sacred vessel whom the Lord has chosen to come inside her. Long generations waited for the birth of this Virgin, so that the fullness of the time would become complete by her (Gal.4:4)........... She has removed the shame of Eva, and saved the reputation of women after sin. She is the mother of God, in perpetual virginity. She is the Virgin who came to our country during the childhood of Christ, and inhabited our land for years, during which she sanctified it, and blessed it......... She is the Virgin who appeared in Zeitoun 32 years ago, and attracted to her the feelings of the crouds, with her light, her appearance, and her visit to us......... She is the Virgin who makes miracles in numerous places, where we celebrate feasts for he. The stories of her miracles are innumerable..... The Virgin is not a stranger to us; because she is profoundly assimilated with the feelings of Copts that come out from faith to special experience and emotion. How great an honor is it for our country and our Church, to be visited in past times by our Lady the Virgin! How great an honor is it that our Lady appeared on her domes many years ago! There is not a human being whom christians have loved so much as our Lady the Virgin Mary.

  • 5

    The majority of churches in Egypt celebrate her feast. In the rites, how many are the compliments, the songs, the veneration, the psalms, the doxologies, (glorifying blessings), which are dedicated to her, especially in the month of Kiahk! The catholics have a month for her, which is called the Mary month......... Among the monasteries of monks in Egypt, there are the monastery of El Baramous, the monastery of El Sourian, the monastery of El Moharrak, which are all dedicated to her name; they represent the quarter of the number of present monasteries. There is a monastery for nuns which is dedicated to her name, in Haret Zuwalah in Cairo. How many are the monasteries and the schools which are dedicated to her name in the Western Churches.


    DEDICATED TO HER NAME The oldest church which was built and dedicated to the name of the Virgin in the apostolic times, is the church of Philippi. The oldest church which was built and dedicated to her name in Egypt, was in the times of the Pope Theonas, the 16 th patriarch (year 274 AD). Among the most reknown of her churches, there is the church of the monastery El Moharrak, which was inuagurated in the times of the Pope Theophilus, (the 23 rd pope), at the beginning of the fifth century, on the 6th of Hator. Also the churches which were built in the places that she visited in Egypt. On this occasion, we have two churches in Europe w ith the name of "The Virgin of Zeitoun"; one is in France, and the other is in Vienna.

    THE GREATNESS OF THE VIRGIN The greatness of the Virgin has been decreed in the sacred œcumenical council of Ephesus, which was assembled in 431 AD. Two hundred bishops from the world were present. They formulated the prelude to the creed of the Christian Faith, in which it is cited: "We venerate you, O mother of the true Light, and we glorify you, O Saint Virgin Mother of God, because you gave birth for us to the Saviour of the world, who has come and delivered our souls". What are the foundations upon which the œcumenical council formulated this prelude? That is what we shall explain now:

  • 6

    The Virgin is the blessed saint, whose blessing is contin uous throughout the generations, as it has been mentioned in her hymn: "For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed" (Luke 1:46). The Church calls the Virgin by the surname of "the queen". This was mentionned by the psalm, about her: "At Your right hand stands the queen" (Ps. 45:9). That is why, many artists, when they draw the pictures of the Virgin, they put a crown on her head, and she appears in the image, on the right side of the Lord Christ. The reverence of the Virgin appears in the salutation of the archangel Gabriel to her: "Peace to you, O you full of grace, "the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women" (Luke 1:28). That is, with a special blessing, to which also saint Elisabeth gave testimony. "Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb" (Luke 1:42). Saint Elisabeth found herself small in front of the greatness of the Virgin, and she spoke with the feeling that she was not deserving, although she knew that her son "will be great in the sight of the Lord", and that "He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke 1: 15-17). She said: "But why is it granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1:43). Probably the most evident proof of the greatness of the Virgin, and of her position in the sight of the Lord, is that when her mere greeting arrived to Elisabeth, the latter was filled with the Holy Spirit, and her babe felt it and leaped in her womb for joy. The divine Intuition says in that: "And it happened, when Elisabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb, and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit" (Luke 1:41). It is really an amazing greatness, that her mere greeting makes Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit! Who is he among the saints, whose greeting caused another to be filled with the Holy Spirit?! But here is Elizabeth testifying and saying: "For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy" (Luke 1:44). Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, by the greeting of Mary, and she also obtained the gift of prophecy and revelation: She then knew that this is the mother of her Lord, and that she believed " those things which were told her from the Lord", and she also knew that the leaping of the babe was "for joy". This joy, of course, was

  • 7

    because of the Blessed One who was in the womb of the Virgin, "blessed is the fruit of your womb" (Luke 1: 41-45). The majesty of the Virgin shines brilliantly in the choice of her by the Lord, from among all the women of the world....... The only human being for whom the divine providence waited thousands of years, till He found her, and judged that she deserved that immense honor which the angel Gabriel explained saying: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). The Virgin excels all women in her eminence: For that reason, the divine Intuition said about her: "Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all" (Prov. 31:29). It is probably from this divine text, that the song of the Church was taken: "Many women have obtained honors, but no one of them obtained like you"......... This Saint Virgin, was in the thought and in the providence of God, since the beginning. He said to our first parents, in the salvation which He promised them, that the Seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). This woman is the Virgin, and her Seed is Christ, who has crushed the head of the serpent on the Cross.......

    A LIFE SURROUNDED BY MIRACLES In the life of The Virgin, miracles begin before her birth, and continue after her death. From these: 1. She was generated with a miracle, from sterile parents, with an annunciation from the angel. 2. The miracle of her bethrothal, in a divine manner which determined who will take her and care for her. 3. The miracle of her conception of Christ while she is a virgin, and the continuation of her virginity after giving birth. 4. The miracle during her visit to Elizabeth who, when she heard the voice of her greeting, the babe leaped for joy in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit. 5. Innumerable miracles during her visit to Egypt, one of which is the fall of idols (Is. 19:1). 6. The first miracle which the Lord did in Cana of Galilea, happened through her request. 7. The miracle of the dissolution of iron, and the deliverance of the apostle Matthias, happened through her intervention. 8. The miracle of Christ receiving her soul, at the hour of her death.

  • 8

    9. The miracle of the striking of the jews by the Lord, when they wanted to attack her corpse after her death. 10. The miracle of the ascent of her body to heaven. 11. The miracles which happened everywhere by her hands, about which books were written. 12. Her apparition in numerous places, and especially her wonderful apparation in our churches in Zeitoun, and in Papadopoulo. Miracles are still happening everywhere, and will happen as a testimony to the honor of this saint.

    THE VIRGIN'S FAST The Church celebrates the fast of our Lady the Virgin beginning with the first of Mesra, (the 7th of August). It is a fast for which people care very much, and they practice it with forceful ascetism. Some add days to it, in regard of the great love of people for The Virgin. The fast of The Virgin is an occasion for spiritual renaissance in the majority of churches. They prepare a spiritual program for daily sermons, and daily masses too in some churches, even the churches which are not named by the name of The Virgin. There is a great feast for our Lady The Virgin, which is celebrated in her ancient church in Mostorod. Feasts of other saints are also celebrated in these days: The feast of saint Georges at the monastery in Mit Damsis, is celebrated in the second half of August, and also the feast of saint Abba Macarius the Great, and the feast of saint Georges in his monastery at Ruzeykat. In the same fast of The Virgin, we celebrate the feasts of reknown she saints: like saint Baïssa (2 Misra, 6 August), saint Julita (6 Misra, 12 August), saint Marina (15 Misra, 21 August). In the fast of The Virgin, we also celebrate the feast of the glorious Transfiguration (13 Misra, 19 August). In the same month (7 Misra, 13 August), we celebrate the feast of the announcement, by the angel Gabriel to Joachim, of the birth of The Virgin Mary. The feast of The Virgin is not the only occasion on which the Church celebrates the feasts of The Virgin, but more is celebrated in the month of Kiahk which is full of hyms, doxologies, and psalms for the saint Virgin Mary. Copts in Egypt, and specially women, take care for the fast of The Virgin, in a manner that exceeds description.

  • 9

    There are many who fast it (with water and salt), that is without oil........Many add a third week to it, as a kind of vow. There are also those who vow to fast this fast without eating or drinking till the appearance of the stars in heaven........ What then is the secret behind this care? First: The love of Copts for The Virgin who had visited and blessed their country, and left her traces in numerous places where churches have been built. Second: The multiple miracles which happened in Egypt through the intercession of our Lady The Virgin, made many people optimistic to build churches dedicated to her name. The apparition of The Virgin in her church at Zeitoun, and the many miracles that accompanied this apparition, have certainly increased the affection of the Copts for The Virgin, and for the fast which bears her name.

    HER FEASTS Each saint has one feast in the Church, that is the day of his death or his martyrdom; and may be another one that is the finding of his remnants, or a miracle which happened relatively to his name, or the building of a church for him. But The Holy Virgin has a very great number of feasts. Of them, there are: 1. The feast of the announcement of her nativity: It is on the 7th of Misra, when the angel of the Lord announced her father Joachim of her birth. He and her mother Anna were then joyful, and they vowed her for the Lord. 2. The feast of her nativity: The Church celebrates it on the first of Bashans. 3. The feast of her entry to the Temple: The Church celebrates it on the 3rd of Kiahk. It is the day when she entered the Temple to adore God in the special house for the virgins. 4. The feast of her coming to Egypt: She was with the Christ our Lord, and Joseph the carpentar. The Church celebrates it on the 24th of Bashans 5. The feast of the death of The Virgin: It is on the 21st of Tubah. The Church also commemorates in it the miracles which were accomplished in that day, when the fathers apostles were surrounding her, with the exception of saint Thomas who was then preaching in India. 6. The monthly feast of the Virgin:

  • 10

    It is on the 21st of every coptic month, in commemoration of her death on the 21st of Tubah. 7. The feast of the ascent of her body to heaven: The Church celebrates it on the 16th of Misra , the 22nd of August, which is preceded by the Fast of The Virgin (15 days). 8. The feast of her miracle: (the disssolution of iron): It is on the 21st of Baouna. In it we commemorate her miracle in delivering the apostle saint Matthias and those who were with him from prison, by dissoluting the iron which bounded them. In that day also we celebrate the feast of the building of the first church on her name in Philippi. All these feasts have special hymns and doxologies in the rites of the Church, which contain many prophecies and special symbols from the Old Testament, concerning her. 9. The feast of her apparition in Zeitoun on the domes of the church of The Virgin. It was on the 2nd of April 1968, the 24th of Baramhat, and it remained during years. In addition to all that, we celebrate during all the month of Kiahk, (from December until the 7th of January), with hymns which are all about the honor of our Lady The Virgin.


    The Orthodox Coptic Church honors our Lady The Virgin with due honor without exageration, and without lessening of her position. 1. She is, in the belief of the Church, the mother of God, (Theotokos in Coptic), and not the mother of "Jesus" as the Nestorians had claimed, those whom saint Kirillos the Alexandrian fought, and whom the sacred œcumenical council of Ephesus excommuniated. 2. The Church believes that the Holy Spirit has sanctified the depository of The Virgin during the pregnancy with Christ. That was according to what the angel said to her "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). The sanctifying by the Holy Spirit of her depository, makes the One born of her, be conceived without the impurity of the original sin. As for The Virgin herself, her mother conceived, like all people, and so The Virgin said in her hymn: "my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior" (Luke 1:47).

  • 11

    That is why the Church does not agree that The Virgin was conceived without the impurity of the original sin, as our brothers the Catholics beleive. 3. The Church believes in the intercession of The Virgin. She places her intercession before the intercession of angels and archangels, because she is the mother of God, and she is the Queen who is at the right hand of the King. 4. The Holy Bible gives to The Virgin the surname "filled with grace". It is regrettable that the Beyrouth translation of the Bible, in a way that lessens the situations of The Virgin, translates this surname "highly favored one".........All human beings are highly favoured, but The Virgin is filled with grace........ although grace does not mean infallibility. 5. The Church believes in the perpetuality of the virginity of The Virgin. The only exception to this rule, are our brothers the Protestants, who claim that The Virgin gave birth to sons after Christ. 6. The Church believes in the Ascent of the body of The Virgin to heaven, and celebrates that feast on the 16th of Misra.

    HER SURNAMES AND SYMBOLS A. Surnames as regards her greatness

    and her relation with God:

    1. We give her the surname of The Queen who is by the right side of The King. In this, we mention the words of the psalm "At your hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir" (Ps. 45:9). That is why, in her icon, she is portrayed at the right hand of the Christ our Lord. And we say about her in the divine mass "the Lady and the Queen of us all"...... 2. Also we say about her: "Our mother the Holy Virgin". When the Christ our Lord was on the Cross, He said about that to his disciple the beloved saint John: "Behold your mother" (John 19:27). 3. The Virgin is also compared to the ladder of Jacob" That ladder which "was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven" (Gen. 28:12). That is the symbol of The Virgin who, by her giving birth to Christ, made the inhabitants of the earth reach to heaven. 4. She was also called "the bride" because she is the true bride of the Lord of glory. The word of the Lord in the psalm was realised in her: "Listen, O daughter consider and incline your ear; forget your own people also, and your father's house; so the King will greatly desire your beauty; because He is your Lord,

  • 12

    worship Him" (Ps. 45:10-11). That is why she was called the friend of Solomon, who is the virgin of the Song of Songs. It was said of her in the same psalm: "The royal daughter is all glorious within the palace; her clothing is woven with gold. She shall be brought to the king in robes of many colors" (Ps. 45:13-14). 5. We also give her the surname "the beautiful pigeon" in remembrance of the beautiful pigeon that carried to our father Noah a branch of olive tree, as a symbol of peace, bringing to him the good news of the deliverance from the waters of the flood......... (Gen. 8:11). With this surname, the priest burns incense in front of her icon when he goes out of the sanctuary and says: "Hail to you, O Virgin Mary, the beautiful pigeon". The Virgin is compared to the pigeon in her simplicity and her purity and the action of the Holy Spirit in her. She resembles the pigeon which brought the good news of the deliverance after the flood, because she brought the good news of the deliverance by Christ. 6. The Virgin is also compared to the cloud because of her height on the one hand, and because the prophecy of her coming to Egypt, compared her in this manner. It was mentionned about this in the book of the prophet Isaiah: "The burden against Egypt. Behold, the Lord rides on a swift cloud, and will come into Egypt; the idols of Egypt will totter at His presence, and the heart of Egypt will melt in its midst" (Is. 19:1). The expression "cloud" is a symbol of the Lord who will come upon the clouds. (Matt. 16:27).

    B. Her surnames and symbols as regards her motherhood to the Christ our Lord:

    7. One of the surnames by which The Virgin has been described is "Theotokos" that is: "the mother of God". This surname has been called upon her by the sacred œcumenical council of Ephesus in 431 AD. Saint Kirillos the Great insisted on that surname in his response to Nestorius...... Saint Elizabeth addressed her with that surname "the mother of my Lord" (Luke 1:43). 8. One of her surnames is also: "the golden censer". We call her "Te shury" that is the censer in Coptic; and sometimes "the censer of Aaron".......... As for the fire which it contains inside her, coal in it symbolises the human nature of Christ, and fire symbolises His divine nature, as it has been said in the Holy Bible: "our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29).

  • 13

    The censer symbolises the womb of The Virgin where divinity was united with humanity. The censer being of gold, that points to the greatness and the purity of The Virgin. Regarding the purity and the sanctity of The Virgin, we call The Virgin in her hymns "the golden censer" (Te shury ennub, in Coptic). 9. The Virgin is also surnamed "the second heaven" because as heaven is the abode of God, so The Virgin Mary was an abode of God during the sacred pregnancy. 10. The Virgin is also surnamed "the city of God": The prophecy in the psalm is realised in her: "Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God" (Ps 87:3). Or what was said of her "the city of the great King", or certain prophecies which were said about Jerusalem, are realised in her..........or Zion as it was also said in the psalm: "And of Zion it will be said, "This one and that one were born in her; and the most High Himself shall establish her" (Ps. 87:5). 11. In this quality, she was surnamed "the vine where was found the cluster of life" that is Christ. The Church asks for her intercession with that surname in the prayer of the third hour, saying to her: "O mother of God, you are the true vine who bears the cluster of life"........ 12. By this quality of motherhood, she has other surnames of which we mention: The mother of the true light, considering that it has been said of the Christ our Lord, that He is "the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world" (John 1:9). Likewise she was surnamed "the golden lamp" because she bears the Light. And also: "the mother of the Holy One", considering that the angel, when he announced her with the birth of Christ, said to her: "also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). "The mother of the Saviour", because the Christ our Lord is the Saviour of the world: "and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). 13. Among her symbols also: "the bush which the prophet Moses saw" (Exodus 3:2). We say in the song: "The bush which the prophet Moses saw in the desert, is the symbol of the mother of Light, blessed be she. She has carried the fire of divinity in her womb, without being touched by any harm". It was said of the Lord that He is "a consuming fire" (Heb 12:29) to which the fire which is burning inside the bush, is a symbol, and the bush symbolises The Virgin. 14. Also among her symbols: "the ark of the Testimony".

  • 14

    This ark was made of acacia wood that cannot be moth -eaten, and was covered with gold from inside and outside (Ex. 25:10, 22), as a symbol of the purity and the greatness of The Virgin. It also symbolised the things which were inside the ark that were a symbol of the Christ our Lord. There was kept "the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant" (as a symbol of the incarnated Word of God). 15. The Virgin is also compared to the pot of the manna; because the manna was a symbol of the Christ our Lord, as being the live bread who came down from heaven, everybody who eats from him lives by Him, that is also the bread of life (John 6: 32,48,49). Since the Lord Christ is compared to the manna, so it is possible to compare the Virgin to the pot of the manna, who carried this celestial bread inside her. 16. The Virgin is also compared to the rod of Aaron which germinated: that is: she miraculously sprouted and carried the buds of life, (Num.17:6 -8); although a rod has of course no life in it that can produce blossoms and yield fruit. This symbolises the virginity of The Virgin who could not sprout or produce posterity; but she gave birth through a miracle. This description is mentioned in the hymn of Sunday. 17. The tabernacle of meeting (the dome of Moses). The tabernacle of meeting was the place upon which The Lord used to come, and The Virgin is she upon whom The Lord came. God manifested his love for his people in the two cases. That is what we say in the book of the hymns (Al Ipsalmodia): "You have been compared, O Virgin Mary, to the tabernacle which Moses made on the mountain of Sinaï, where God was inside". 18. The Virgin is compared to the gate in the East. That which the prophet Ezechiel saw, and of which the Lord said: "This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut" (Ez. 44: 1 -2). The prophet saw the glory of the Lord at this gate which is in the East, and the house was filled with it (Ez. 43: 2,4,5). That symbolises the virginity of the Virgin who was from the countries of the East; and how this virginity remained sealed. Because she was that gate from the East, she was qualified as: 19. The gate of life, the gate of deliverance: It was said about our Lady the Virgin in the book of Ezechiel: "As for the prince, because he is the prince, he may sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway, and go out the same way" (Ez. 44:3).

  • 15

    Since the Lord is the Life, then she is the gate of the Life. The Lord said: "I am the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25). That is why the Virgin is the gate of the Life, that gate out of which the Lord came out, granting life to all those who believe in Him....... It is not astonishing that we surname the Virgin "the gate", because the Church also was surnamed "the gate". Our father Jacob said about Bethel: "How awsome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!" (Gen. 28:17). 20. She was compared to the "Holiest of all" That in which the chief priest entered once a year, to make atonement for all the people. The Lord of glory came once inside the Virgin Mary for the redemption of all the world.


    LIFE OF HUMILITY Humility was a fundamental condition for her of whom the Lord of Glory will be born. It was indispensable that He would be born from a humble person, who could bear the glory of the divine Incarnation from her.........the glory of the coming of the Holy Spirit in her......and the glory of the nativity of the Lord from her, and the glory of all the generations blessing her, and the humility of Elizabeth in front of her saying to her: "But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1:43). Likewise to bear the glory of all the apparitions of angels, and the worship of the Mages in front of her Son, and the many miracles which happened by her son in the land of Egypt, and the light of this Son in her bosom. That is why, "the fullness of the time" (Gal. 4:4) waited for this human being from whom the Son of God was born. This humility was manifested in her life, as we shall see: The angel announced to her that she will become the mother of the Lord, but she said: "Behold the maid-servant of the Lord" (Luke 1:38), that is his slave and his maiden. The magnificent glory which was given to her, absolutely did not decrease by her humility. But rather it was because of this humility that the Lord granted her that glory. "For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant" and made great things for her (Luke 1: 48, 49).

  • 16

    The humility of the Virgin was also manifested in her going to Elizabeth in order to serve her, during the period of her pregnancy. As soon as she heard that she was pregnant, in her sixth month, she travelled to her in a tiring journey across the mountains. She remained with her for three months, till her days were complete to give birth (Luke 1: 39-56). She did so while she was pregnant with the Lord of glory. Her lack of talking about the glories of the divine Incarnation, is a sign of her humility.

    LIFE OF ABANDON She lived saintly and purely in the temple. Then came a time when they said to her to go out of the temple. She did not protest or object, such as many women do, when they are forbidden by the ecclesiastical laws, to enter the church in certain periods; and they protest and discuss much ....! She wanted to live without marriage, but they ordered her to live under the guardianship of a man, according to the custom in her days..... She did not protest then, and she accepted to live in the custody of a man, as she had accepted to go out of the temple........ She lived the life of abandon, not protesting, not resisting, not objecting, but quietly abandonning to the will of God, without discussion. She was determined to live the life of virginity, and did never think at any time of becoming a mother. And when God willed that she becomes a mother by the coming of the Holy Spirit upon her (Luke 1:35), she did not discuss, but replied with her immortal expression: "Behold the maid -servant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38)..... For that, God granted her the motherhood, and kept her virginity too, and she became a mother, the thing in which she had absolutely never thought ...... Through abandon, she became the mother of the Lord....... rather the greatest in value of all mothers. She was ordered to go to Egypt, and she went. And she was ordered to come back from Egypt, and she came back. She was ordered to move from Bethlehem and to reside in Nazareth, and she moved and resided. She was a calm human being, living the life of abandon, without discussion. That is why "He who is mighty has done great things" to her........ "For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant".

    THE LIFE OF ENDURANCE She became an orphan from her two parents, when she was eight years old, and she endured the life of orphanage. She lived in the temple while she was a child, and she endured the life of solitude there. She came out of the temple in order to live in the custody of a carpentar, and

  • 17

    she endured the life of poverty. When she gave birth to her only Son, "there was no room for them in the inn", then she "laid Him in a manger" (Luke 2:7). She supported that also....... She endured the responsability while she was in a tender age. She supported the magnificent glory which surrounded her, without being harrassed by the thoughts of greatness. It was not possible for her to declare that she has given birth while she was a virgin, so she kept silent and endured that. She suffered the tiring voyage to Egypt and back. She suffered to be expelled there from town to town, because the idols were falling down in front of the Christ (Is. 19:1). She suffered to be a poor foreigner. She suffered that a sword would pierce through her own soul also (Luke 2:35) because of that which her Son met, the persecutions, the insults, and lastly the suffering and the shame of the cross....... The Virgin was not satisfied only to endure negatively, but she lived in the jubilation by the Lord as she said in her hymn: "my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour" (Luke 1:47).

    FAITH AND NOT GRUMBLING She did not grumble at all in all that she suffered. When Herod menaced to kill her Son, in the flight to Egypt, and in the persecutions from the Jews, she did not say, where is the announcement that He will sit to reign on the throne of his father David....and there will be no end to his kingdom (Luke 1: 32-33)! But she was rather patient; and as Elizabeth said about her "And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord" (Luke 1:45). She believed that she will give birth while remaining a virgin, and that was realised for her. She believed that the "Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35), in spite of his birth in a manger. What she believed in, was realised for her, by way of the visions and the angels whom she saw, and the miracles which were accomplished by Him. She believed in all that, in spite of the persecutions to which He was exposed....... She believed while He was on the cross, then she saw Him after His resurrection from the dead (Matt. 28).

    SILENCE, PRAYER, AND MEDITATION It was God who arranged that she became an orphan and lived in the temple.

  • 18

    In the temple, she learned the life of solitude and silence, and to become preoccupied with prayer and meditation. Having lost the love and tenderness of her parents, she became preoccupied with the love of God alone. She lived a life of seclusion with prayers, hymns, reading of the Holy Bible, study and recall from memory of many of its verses, and of the psalms. Certainly her hymn in the house of Elizabeth is a proof of that, because the majority of its verses are taken from the psalms and the verses of the Holy Bible. Silence became one of the characteristics of her spirituality. Although she was in the events of the Nativity: having seen wonderful things which probably exceed the endurance of her age as a small girl, and miracles that surrounded her, and having heard the words of angels, shepherds, and wise men from the East.......... she did not speak proudly about the events of the Nativity, but "kept all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2"19). The silent meditating Virgin is a lesson for us. May we be like her: meditating much, and speaking a little. Nevertheless I see, that when time came for her to speak, she became a source for the ecclesiastical tradition, in some of the news which the apostles and the evangelists learned from her: the miracles and the events during the flight to Egypt, and the conversation of the Christ among the masters in the temple while He was young (Luke 3: 46-47).

    OTHER VIRTUES The Lord has chosen this poor orphan girl, to become the foremost woman in existence. She possessed in her virtues what is more than riches. Also among her virtues, there are her personal sanctity, her purity and her virginity, her spiritual knowledge, her service to others, and her spiritual motherhood to the fathers apostles. Time would lack if we were to speak about all her virtues.

    HER BLESSINGS O how many are the blessings that were given to the Virgin! They were mentionned in the melodies of the Church, in the hymns, in the "theotokies" (praise of the mother of God), the songs, the doxologies (praise of benediction), in each day of her feasts days, in the book of praises for the month of Kiahk, in the hymns of the Church, and in the book of praises (Psalmodiah). The Church mentions her before the archangels when citing the names of the assembly of the saints; and so also in all her intercessional

  • 19

    prayers. The Church, in her blessing of the Virgin, realises the prophecy which she said in her hymn: "For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed" (Luke 1:48). The Church offers incense to her, and presents greetings to her. Many are the hymns which begin with the expression "Hail to Mary" (shara na Maria, in Coptic), or the hymns which begin with the expression "Rejoice O Mary", or the hymn where the prophet David moves the ten cords of his guitar, and he mentions a blessing to her in each cord. We mention her in the book of prayers of the hours, and in the mass, and in all the books of the Church: In the Synaxaire, in the "Difnar", in the "Katamaras", in the "Psalmodia", and in all the books of hymns and responses......... We mention her in the book of the prayers of the hours, in the third paragraph of every prayer in the prayers of the day, asking for her intercession. We mention her in the creed, and we say in its prelude:" We exalt you, O mother of the True Light and we glorify you, O saint Virgin, mother of God......." We mention her in the prayer of the benediction, in its beginning and in its end. We begin the benediction saying: "through the prayers and supplications and implorations which the mother of God, the saint pure Virgin, raises every time for our sake". And after mentioning the names of the angels, the apostles, the prophets, the martyrs, and all the saints, we terminate the benediction saying: "and the blessing of our Lady the Virgin firstly and lastly".....

    THE ICON OF THE VIRGIN There is a difference between images for meditation, and an icon for the rites. In the icons, it is indispensable that she appears with the Christ, as being the mother of God. She must be at his right side, for it has been said in the psalm: "At your right hand stands the queen" (Ps. 45:9). And because she is a queen, there must be a crown on her head, and so the Christ. As a saint, there must be a halo of light around her head, for the Lord said: "You are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14). Because she is the second heaven, there are stars, angels, and clouds around her.

  • 20

    Intercede for us, O saint Virgin, in order that the Lord would include us in His mercy.

  • 1

    Pope Shenouda III series 7






    First print: Cairo, July 1997 Available from: http://www.copticchurch.net


  • 2

    Name of the book: The two saints Peter & Paul Author: His Holiness Pope Shenouda III

    Editor: Orthodox Coptic Clerical College, Cairo Edition: July 1997 Press: Amba Rueiss, (Offset), The Cathedral, Abbassia Deposition number at "The Library": 8476/97 I.S.B.N. 977 - 5345 - 43 - X

    All rights reserved to the author His Holiness Pope Shenouda III

    Pope and Patriarch of the See of Alexandria and of all the Predication of the Evangelist St. Mark

    The feast of the the apostles (5 Abib) is the feast of the martyrdom of S. Peter & S. Paul. I shall talk to you about them, not as regards History, but as a spiritual life which can be a lesson. What were the points of resemblance, and the points of difference in their lives? and how God had chosen these two kinds for the building up of His kingdom? Both are two apostles, and martyrs. Each of them has his own style. But both the two styles were for the glory of God. Pope Shenouda III

  • 3

    PREFACE On the occasion of the feast of the apostles, I had wished to talk to you about the apostles in a general manner. But I have found that this is greater than to be contained in a summary pamphlet like this one. So I preferred to write for you only about these two great apostles: S. Peter & S. Peter; especially that the feast of the apostles (5 Abib) is the feast of the martyrdom of S. Peter & S. Paul. As for the talk about our fathers the apostles in a general manner, there will be a special pamphlet for that, later on, if the Lord permits and we live. And believe me, a single pamphlet is not enough even for our limitation only to these two apostles, but we shall talk very briefly. We do not write History in this pamphlet, because History would need volumes, and researches, and maps.... But I shall write to you here about the spiritual lessons and not about History. That is what we can learn, as much as it is possible, from the lives of the apostles. If we turn to History, it will be in a secondary manner. On the occasion of the feast of the apostles Pope Shenouda III

  • 4

    The Church celebrates the memory of the martyrdom of these two saints on the 5th of Abib, which is the 12th of July.This feast is called in our Church by the name of "the feast of the apostles". Its date is unchanged in every year. The Church venerates these two apostles very profoundly; and praises them and honors them exceedingly; especially in the prayer of "the partition" or "the division" which pertains to the fast of the apostles and to the feast of the apostles, which we pray during the holy mass. Although there are not many churches which are called by their two names together, there is a church which is called by their two names in the region of Amba Roueiss in Cairo, and another church which is called by their two names in Los Angeles, California, USA. These two saints represent two distinguished kinds as regards the personality, the mission, and the style. Each one of them has distinct characteristics.


    Peter was among the first whom the Lord had chosen to work with Him (Matt. 10). And Paul was not among the twelve, and not even among the seventy apostles, but the Lord chose him lastly, after the resurrection and years after the choice of Matthias...... He did not follow Christ during His predication on earth. He rather said about that: "Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God" (1 Cor. 15: 8 -9). And although he was the last in his call, yet he "laboured more abundantly than they all" (1 Cor. 15:10). That shows that it is not a matter of precedence, but according to the amount of weariness from exertion for God. A person may not be the most ancient among the workers in ministry, and nevertheless he may be the strongest of all the workers. John the Baptist was not the first prophet in the Old Testament, but he was the last of them in their chronological order. Nevertheless it was said that "among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist" (Matt. 11:11).

  • 5

    St. Augustin said to the Lord: "I have been very much late to love You". And with his lateness, he was more profound than millions who had preceded him. Peter was born in Bethsaide, and his family lived in Capernaum (Kafr Nahum). Paul was born in Tarsus of Cilicia. He went to Jerusalem in the early years of his youth to complete his religious instruction, in order to study the Law at the hands of one of the great teachers" (Acts 22:3). The apostle Peter was a married man. It was mentioned in the Gospel that Christ healed his step-mother from fever (Matt. 8: 14-15). In his journeys for the predication, he wandered accompanied by his wife as a sister (1 Cor. 9:5). But the apostle Paul was a virgin. (1 Cor. 7:7). He called for the preference of virginity. "But each one has his own gift from God", "as the Lord has called each one...... Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called" (1 Cor. 7: 7,17,20). That proves that the Lord calls everybody to His service, whether they are married like Peter, or virgins like Paul. Peter began his life with the Lord Christ with love, confidence, and faith. But on the contrary: Paul began by enemity, as a persecutor of the Church and of everyone who followed Christ, so that the Lord, when He met him on the road to Damascus, began his conversation with him by reprimanding him saying: "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:4). Saint Peter was a simple man, a fisherman (Matt. 4:18). He was ignorant and was not instructed into culture or science. He is one of whom "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise" (1 Cor. 27). It was said of him, of him and saint John, "that they were uneducated and untrained men" (Acts 4:13). But saint Paul was one of the learned of his age, who was educated at the University of Tarsus, and brought up at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). He was well-known for his culture and for reading many books. (Acts 26:24). That shows us that the Lord equally employs everybody for His kingdom, the learned and the simple. The important thing for them is to be useful ustensils for the work of His grace...... There was also a distinction in the mission of each of the two saints Peter and Paul.

  • 6

    The apostle Peter began his ministry while he was old-aged. Perhaps he was the oldest of all the apostles. Therefore they venerated his old age. As regards age, he said about saint Mark: "Mark my son " (1 Peter 5:13). But saint Paul was smaller than saint Peter in age. Also among the points of difference: the apostle Paul formed for himself disciples in a greater number than Peter did. Among his disciples were Timothy and Titus to whom he sent epistles. Also among his disciples, were Luke, Aristarchus, Tichycus, Carpus, the deaconess Phebe, Achilla and Priscilla......and others. Mark followed both of them: first he followed Peter, then he remained with Paul to the end of his life (2 Tim. 4:11). It was said about saint Peter that he was "the apostle of circumcision" He was confided in "the gospel of circumcision", that is the predication to the Jews; while Paul was confided in "the Gospel of uncircoumsision", that is the predication to the Gentiles. Such is what the apostle saint Paul said: "the gospel of the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter, for He who worked effectivey in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles" (Gal. 2: 7-8). The Lord said to Paul: "Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles" (Acts 22:21). And He also said to him: "for as you testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome" (Rom.23:11). Paul wrote an epistle to the Romans, and some epistles to the churches of the Gentiles. Peter wrote to the Jews "the pilgrims of the Dispersion" (1 Peter 1:1). Saint Paul wrote 14 epistles which consisted of 100 chapters. Saint Peter wrote only two epistles which consisted of 8 chapters. Saint Peter was simple in his writings. As for saint Paul, saint Peter said about his epistles "in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction" (2 Peter 3:16). Saint Paul talked about theological questions like the justification, the renovation, Law and grace, the baptism, the priesthood, choice and rejection, living as Jews ...... matters which saint Peter did not approach.

  • 7

    Saint Peter was impulsive. That was probably because of his great zeal, or his jealousy. The Lord praised him when he testified of Him that He is the Son of the living God (Matt. 16: 15:19). But many times the Lord reprimanded him for his impulsiveness. Such as when He reprimanded him afterwards, when the Lord was talking about his future sufferings and His killing by the Jews. Then Peter said impetuously: "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to you! Then the Lord rebuked him saying: "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men"(Matt. 16: 21:23). Peter also was implusive during the Lord's washing of His apostles' feet. He refused and "said to Him: You shall never wash my feet!" But when "Jesus answered him: "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me. Simon Peter said to Him: "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head"...... (John 13: 8-10). Another time when the Lord Christ was arrested, Peter "having a sword", impulsively "drew it and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. So, Jesus said to Peter: "Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?" (John 18: 10-11). And He also said to him: "for all who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Matt. 26: 51,52). Thus we see that the Lord has chosen him in spite of his impulsiveness, then He has transformed this impulsiveness into good since the day of the Pentecost. Then we see Peter beginning to speak in that day, and he explained what was happening to the people (Acts 2), and he called them to faith. He also began to speak on the day of the healing of the lame, and rebuked the Jews because they had preferred a murderer to the Lord Christ, before Pilate (Acts 3:12-26). He came forward in many occasions, as when he said: "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Act 5:29). Thus the Lord employed the impulsiveness ot Peter for the good. As for saint Paul, he was also enthusiastic, but without impulsiveness..... Because of the difference in their style of work, saint Paul once reprimanded saint Peter himself: He explained this in the second chapter of his epistle to the Galatians saying: "Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before cetain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And

  • 8

    the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all: "If you being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?" (Gal. 2: 11-14). Nevertheless the two saints participated together and resembled each other in substantial matters like zeal and martyrdom.

    POINTS OF RESEMBLANCE Both were Jews. The apostle Paul mentioned that he was a Jew, from the tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5). The Bible did not mention from which tribe was the apostle Peter. Both were called by the Lord. Peter was "casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them: [Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. They immediately left their nets and followed Him" (Matt. 4: 18-20). The Lord called Paul as "he journeyed to Damascus, and suddently a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground" (Acts 9: 1--4), and the Lord called him, sending him first to Ananias of Damascus. And as the Lord Jesus-Christ called him, also the Holy Spirit called him, and said: "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them" (Acts 13:2). Likewise also God the Father called him. The apostle saint Paul said about that: "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me" (Gal. 1: 15-17). Thus we see that the apostle saint Paul was called by the three Persons, each separately. Although both the saint apostles Peter and Paul were likewise called by God, yet the manner of the call was different; and also the number of the calls. The Lord changed the name of each of them:

  • 9

    Peter was called Simeon, son of Jonah (John 21:15). The Lord called him by the name of Peter. (Matt. 16: 17-18). The name of Saul was changed into Paul. At the beginning of his call, the Lord called him by the name of Saul (Acts 9:4). During his predication, He called him by the name of Paul (Acts 23:11). The Holy Spirit came upon each of them; and each of them spoke with tongues. It is evident that the apostle Peter spoke languages on the day of Pentecost, for the Spirit of the Lord had come upon him. The apostle Paul said in his epistle to the Corinthians: "I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all" (1 Cor. 14:18). And it was said in the story of Elymas the sorcerer: "Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said......" (Acts 13:9). Each of them had the power to give the Holy Spirit. It was said about Peter and John, that the apostles who were in Jerusalem, sent them to Samaria when it believed: "Then they laid hands on them, and the received the Holy Spirit" (Acts 8:17). It was likewise said about the apostle Paul that after the baptism of the Ephesians "when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prohesied" (Acts 19: 5-6). Each of them made wonders and miracles. It was said about the apostle Paul: "Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, wo that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them" (Acts 19:11). Each of them raised up a dead. The apostle Peter resuscitated from death "a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas". He "prayed. And turning to the body he said: Tabitha, arise". And she opened her eyes ..... Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up ........ and ...... presented her alive" (Acts 9: 36-41). The apostle Paul resuscitated from death "a certain young man named Euthychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead." But Paul ressuscitated him. "And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted" (Acts 20: 7-12).

  • 10

    Each of them was a flame of energy, holy zeal, and work of predication. Each of them preached and taught, and made efforts in the ministry. Since the day of the Pentecost, Peter taught and preached, and testified to the resurrection of the Lord Christ, in the temple and outside the temple. He preached in Jerusalem, in Lydda, and in Joppa (Acts 9: 22,31). He moved from Joppa to Cesarea where he admonished and baptised Cornelius and those who were with him (Acts 10). He also preached the Jews of the Dispersion, and sent to them an epistle "To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia" (1 Peter 1:1). The apostle saint Paul "laboured more abundantly than they (the apostles) all" (1 Cor. 15:10). Therefore we shall select a special chapter for him. Each of them was bold and courageous in his predication. It is enough as regards the apostle Peter that he insisted upon his predication, and did not care about the threatening by the Jews, but said his famous expression: "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). He rather rebuked the Jews saying: "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life" (Acts 3: 13-15). The apostle saint Paul was very courageous before the governors. It is that the governor Felix was terrified before him, who was a captive, "as he reasoned about righteousness, self -control, and the judgement to come" (Acts 24:25). And when he stood before the king Agrippa during his trial, he said to him: "King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe". Then Agrippa said to Paul: "You almost persuade me to become a Christian". And Paul said: "I would to God that not only youm but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains" (Acts 26: 27-29). Because of the courage of saint Paul, [as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by: "Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned? When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying: "Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman"] And when the commander heard this, he was "afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had

  • 11

    bound him". "Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him" (Acts 22: 25-29). Because of the courage of saint Paul, when the governor Festus wanted to deliver him to the Jews to kill him, he said: "I stand at Caesar's judgement seat, where I ought to be judged ....... For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar. Then Festus ...... answered: "You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!" (Acts 25: 10-12). Each of the two saints Peter and Paul was firm in his punishment of the sinners. We touch this in the punishment by saint Peter of Ananias and Sapphira when they "kept back part of the proceeds" of their sold possession and lied to the Holy Spirit; then Peter said to Ananias: "You have not lied to men but to God" (Acts 5:4). Then Ananias "fell down and breathed his last". And when his wife Sapphira repeated the same lie, saint Peter said to her: ["How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out". Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last] (Acts 5:9). This firmness was necessary, in order for the Church not to begin with negligence and indifference. Therefore it was said afterwards: "So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things" (Acts 5:11). This punishment confirms the amount of power which God granted to that saint apostle. Another example is the position of saint Peter as regards Simeon the sorcerer. This one was astonished that "through the layin g of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money" to obtain the same gift! "But Peter said to him (with firmness and authority): "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! ........ Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity" (Acts 8: 18-22). The apostle Paul also acted with every firmness with the sinner of Corinth. That one who had fallen into the sin of adultery with his father's wife. When the apostle Paul heard about this, he sent to them saying: "I

  • 12

    indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit,have already judged .... deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus". And he reprimanded the people and said to them: "put away from yourselves the evil person" (1 Cor. 5: 3-5, 13). This firmness had its effect for the repentance of that sinner and for the holy zeal of the people. Another example of the firmness of saint Paul, is his position as regards Elymas the sorcerer. ("For so his name is translated") The apostle "Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him", rebuked him and said: "now indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time. And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand" (Acts 13: 6-11). This event indicates also the authority which God granted to that saint apostle. And it happened as he said. In spite of all this, the two saint apostles were humble. At the beginning of the Lord's call of Peter, in the miracle of the catching of fish, we read that after the miracle that "he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" (Luke 5:8). The tradition informs us that during his martyrdom and crucifixion, he asked to be crucified head down because of his feeling of his sins, and not to be crucified as the Lord ........ The apostle Paul, in spite of all his fights in preaching, in spite of his numerous miracles, we see him write to this disciple Timotheus saying: "although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man, but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief" (1 Tim. 1:13). And he says in his first epistle to the Corinthians about the appearances of the Lord: "Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God" (1 Cor. 15: 8 -9). The examples and proofs of the humility of these two great apostles are very numerous, and it is not the appropriate time for them, in this summary pamphlet...... Each of them was exposed to many persecutions. Saint Peter was persecuted together with the rest of the apostles at the beginning of Christianity. "the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them" (Acts 4:1). They arrested them, then they

  • 13

    let them go. They conferred among themselves to kill them; were it not for the intervention of the Law teacher Gamaliel ..... (Acts 5: 32-40). They scourged them and "commanded them that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name" (Acts 5:41). Saint Peter suffered scourging for Christ, and likewise also he was confined to jail. Herod arrested him to please the Jews, and "he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover" (Acts 12: 3-4). But the angel of the Lord delivered Peter that night, and brought him out of prison..... As for Paul, how numerous are the persecutions which happened to him and to his participants in the ministry!? He said about this: "But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in sleeplessness, in fastings ........ (2 Cor. 6: 4 -5). "We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal body. For we who live are always delivered to death" (2Cor. 4: 8 -11). He has explained in (2 Cor. 11) a summary of his sufferings. He said: "in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in peril of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness". Each of the saints Peter and Paul obtained the crown of martyrdom. Each of them ended his life as a martyr in the year 67 AD at the hands of the ceasar Neron. The apostle saint Peter was crucified head down. The apostle saint Paul was beheaded with the sword.

  • 14

    The apostle saint Peter

    He has three names: Simon the son of Jonah, Cephas, and Peter. He and his brother Andrew were fishermen. His brother knew Christ before him. Simon began his acquaintance with Christ by way of his brother Andrew. It was mentioned in the gospel of John about Andrew: "He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him: "We have found the Messiah (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said: "You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas [which is translated, (Peter,) A Stone] (John 1: 40-42). We note that the three names came in a single verse. Simon Peter became the first name among the twelve (Matt. 10:2). Rather he became one of three who were very near to the Lord Christ. They are Peter, James, and John, whom He took to the mount of the Transfiguration, and "His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light" (Matt. 17: 1,2); and they saw with Him Moses and Elijah talking to Him...... The Lord took these three with Him in the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus from death. The gospel of Mark says about that: "And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James" (Mark 5:37). These three are also those whom He took with Him to the garden of Gethsemany, in His agony before the crucifixion. The gospel of Matthew says about that: "And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee...." (Matt. 26:37). Hence, Peter, James and John had a certain familiarity by Christ. Therefore the apostle Paul considers Peter to be one of the three pillars of the church in the days of the apostles.........

  • 15

    He says: "and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcision" (Gal. 2:9). The apostle saint Peter loved the Lord Christ very much. He loved His words and His instruction. Accordingly when some disciples returned back; and the Lord [said to the twelve: "Do you also want to go away?" But Simon Peter answered Him: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6: 66-68). His love for Him was manifested in his words on Maundy-Thursday night. When the Lord said to His disciples: "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night", Peter with his well-known implusiveness answered and said to Him: "Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble ....... Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You" (Matt. 26: 31-35). "I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death" (Luke 22:33). Verily, he denied Him three times, but out of weakness, and not out of lack of love. A proof of this is that when the rooster crew, "he went out and wept bitterly" (Matt. 26:75). Another proof is that he answered the Lord after the resurrection: "You know that I love you" (John 21: 17). The Lord accepted his repentance, and established him in his apostleship and said to him: "Feed My lambs", "Tend My sheep" (John 21: 15,16). The apostle Peter manifested great courage and boldness after the coming of the Holy Spirit. The first chapters of the book of the Acts of the Apostles are nearly centered about the two apostles Peter and John; and narrate to us what they did in the building of the first Church, before the appearance of the apostle Paul. We do not forget the strength of the apostle Peter in exhortation: The effect of his sermon on the day of the Pentecost, which drew to faith nearly three thousand men who "were cut to the heart" (Acts 2:37), and were baptised; and likewise his sermon after the healing of the lame (Acts 3); and his courageous standing before all the chiefs and the priests of the Jews; and his unrestricted manifestation of his faith. It is evident that he could recall from memory the psalms and the verses of the Bible. He mentioned them in his profound interpretations. For example: what he said about Judas (Acts 1: 16-20); what he said on the day of the Pentecost; his quotation of what came in the book of the prophet Joel (Acts 2: 16-21); other quotations from the book of the Psalms (Acts :24-30) ..... all this in consequent verses. Add to this what he said

  • 16

    on the day of the healing of the lame, and his quotation of the sayings of the prophets (Acts 3: 21-25). The apostle Peter is astonishing in his recalling from memory of the verses of the Bible, and their use. Examples of this are numerous. That is not the time to count them. We find the same situation in his two epistles which he wrote. It is the style of a man who filled with the spirit of the Bible, and with the soundness of the explanation of the words. He said: "knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20-21). It was he who said: "I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder, that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets...." (2 Peter 3: 1-2).

    The apostle saint Paul

    He is one of the giant capacities of ministry As soon as he entered into faith, the Lord employed him for the building of the kingdom, and he worked by him action. The book of the Acts of the Apostles begins by mentioning the work of the twelve, and specially Peter and John. After mentioning Paul, nearly the rest of the book is occupied bith this great apostle, specially after the council of Jerusalem. He "laboured more abundantly than they all" (1 Cor. 15:10), he enjoyed gifs and revelations, and ascended to the third heaven (2 Cor. 12: 2 -7). He suffered from every body for the predication (2 Cor. 11). He preached in all the great apostolic churches. He served much in Jerusalem and in Antioch. He founded the churches of Greece, as well as the church of Rome, where he stayed for two years preaching "the kingdom of God ......... with all confidence, no one forbidding him" (Acts 28: 30-31). He was tired on the land and at sea, preaching in three voyages, in Asia, Europe, till he arrived west to Spain where he founded its church. He served in many islands: in Cyprus, Crete, Malta, Sicilia, and he founded their churches.

  • 17

    In Asia, he preached in Jerusalem, Tyr, Cesarea, Antioch, Ephesus, Meletis, and some cities in Minor Asia.... In Europe, he preached in Cyprus, Greece, Macedonia, Philippi, Thessalonique, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Troas, Rome and many cities in Italy. He spoke in the Temple and the synagogues, and in the houses, and in the Areopagus, and the temples and possibly in every place. He was exposed to many false accusations from the Jews; he stood before governors, and kings, as Felix, Festus, Agrippa, Ceasar, and the council of the Sanhedrim. He was imprisonned and captive many times: in Philippi, Cesarea, and twice in Rome ...... He wrote much. He wrote fourteen epistles. Two of the evangelists are his disciples, they are Mark and Luke. Also among his disciples there are Aristarchus, Timotheus, Titus, and others. He was surnamed the apostle of the Gentiles: The Lord said to him: "I will send you far from here to the Gentiles" (Acts 22:21), "as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome" (Acts 23:11). He obtained the crown of martyrdom by being beheaded at the hands of Neron in the year 67 AD. And he obtained the crown of virginity, and the crown of apostleship, and the crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8). May the blessing of his prayers be with us all.


    1. Saint Timotheus: to whom the apostle Paul wrote two epistles. The apostle Paul ordinated him bishop of Ephesus. He reminded him with the laying of his hands upon him. He was the assistant of saint Paul in many of his voyages. He went to Philippi (Philippi 2: 19-20); to Corinth (2 Cor. 1:1), to Macedonia (Acts 19:22), and likewise he went to Rome (Heb. 13:23). He was very active in ministry in spite of the sickness of his stomach and his "frequent infirmities" (1Tim. 5:23). He began his service from his youth, so that saint Paul said to him: "Let no one despise your youth" (1 Tim. 4:12). He was helped by his

  • 18

    knowledge since his childhood of holy books, his origin in a saint family and specially his mother and his grandmother (Lois and Eunice). 2. Titus: He is one of the disciples of the apostle Paul to whom he wrote an epistle. He ordinated him bishop of Crete .... He called him his son (Titus 1:4), as he called also Timotheus his son (1 Tim.1:18). He accompanied the apostle in some of his journeys, and went with him to Nicopolis and Delmatia. The saint sent him to Corinth, and left him to arrange the matter of pastorship, and to ordinate priests, in Crete. 3. Tychicus: One of the disciples of the apostle Paul. He sent him to Ephesus (Eph. 6:21), and to Colosse (Co;. 4:7). He was among the most united sons to him. He mentioned in some of his epistles. (Titus 3:12), (2 Tim. 4:12). The rest of Paul's disciples: Those who loved saint Paul, and whom he mentioned in his epistles, are many, as for example it was mentioned in (Rom. 16)..... Among his well-known disciples: Aristarchus whose name he once mentioned before the evangelist Luke (Philemon 23), and he described him as his fellow labourer. Among the disciples of Paul also, Epaphras (Philemon 22), and also the apostle Mark, the evangelist Luke, and others......




  • 2











    Tel. : (310) 917-1981

  • 3



  • 4

    H.H. Pope Shenouda III, 117th Pope ofAlexandria and the See of St. Mark

  • 5




    The first Egyptian Orthodox Church in the United Statesof America was named after Saint Mark. It was logical to theearly Egyptians who came to the States to choose his name. fortheir first church in their new country. St. Mark was the apostleand the preacher and the first bishop to their church. He is theone who led their forefathers to accept the faith and to confessthat Jesus Christ is the Savior, and the Son of God. They hadalways been appreciative to this great apostle.

    The prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled and the Lordbecame known to Egypt.: "In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst ofthe land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord.[Isaiah 19 - 19]

    "Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed beEgypt my people".[Isaiah 19 - 25]

    Here in our church at Santa Monica, we felt obliged tolet our children know about this great apostle and what he didfor Egypt. Since they can't read our books written in Arabicabout St. Mark and the See of Alexandria, it was necessary totranslate to them in English so they can benefit from it.

    The Church Board of Directors unanimously chose thebook written by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III about St.Mark to be translated to the Egyptian Americans and for everyone who is seeking the knowledge and education.

  • 6

    We feel proud to introduce a concise translation of thebook written by H.H. Pope Shenouda III which was publishedin Cairo in 1968 and was reprinted several times. This is a bookthat the new Egyptian Americans will be keen to read about thechurch, whose fathers brought with them to USA when theycame to the land of immigration and never traded it withanother.

    In our humble effort we want to thank the directors ofthe Church Board for the support to print this book and to allwho contributed in that effort. Special thanks are in order toMr. Hany and Mr. Nabil for their help in expediting thepublication of this book.

    We ask for God's blessing. We are thankful for theopportunity given to us to print this book in English. Thescholar who wrote "The Beholder of God, Mark the Evangelist,Saint and Martyr", is no stranger to St. Mark, he is PopeShenouda III, the 117 Patriarch in succession to our Saint. Lettheir prayers and blessings be with us, Amen.

    September 1995 Father PaulMegally

    Santa Monica, California. St. Peter & St. PaulCoptic Orthodox Church

  • 7


    We are indebted to this great preacher, who came to ourcountry to teach in the name of Christ. The Word of Godreached us after his blood was shed on our land.

    We appreciate this Saint, the first to write the Gospelregistering the life of Lord Christ and His Works, so humanitycan be saved.

    We are grateful to the Saint whose name was given tothe first church in our country, where his body was buried andafter him our Patriarchs were chosen. Their first duty was toget blessed by his tomb and holding his skull and dressing itwith a new garment.

    The great Saint preached in the name of Christ inEgypt, Libya, Cyprus, some countries in Asia, Rome and otherEuropean countries. He is honored by Venice and othercountries are seeking his blessings.

    That is the apostle, the preacher, the evangelist, themartyr, the beholder of God, whose home was the first churchin the world [Acts 12 - 12]. In this home, God instituted thesacrament of the Eucharist and His disciples were with theHoly Spirit.

    He did many miracles and was symbolized by a lion.This lion is also the symbol of his Gospel and character.

    Alas. we neglected the Saint in the past ! Now wewill try, from our hearts to honor him, as a father for all of us.

    We celebrated the return of his relics with enormousjoy. A new cathedral was built and was given his name, sowere other churches built every where carrying his name, in

  • 8

    Egypt and in the lands of immigration, where our sons anddaughters proudly feel, that they belong to this great preacher.

    His name was given to our first bishop in France.His works, evoke the deep and cordial feelings in our hearts,whenever we celebrate his feast.

    To follow his way, is the least to express our feelingstowards this great preacher. It is nice to complete his workin preaching and teaching, and to remember his struggle for thefaith. He took numerous trips, through the three continents,the ones known at his time. He walked along the long roadstill his sandals were torn.

    Let his spirit be with us and by the Grace of God, wecan proudly follow his path .

    This book is just a kind of expression of our gratitudetowards the great teacher and to acquaint his sons anddaughters all over the world, with his pure life, that suffered andstruggled so the faith can reach us.

    This book was written in 1968 on the occasion of thereturn of the relics of St. Mark to Egypt and the establishmentof the Saint Mark Great Cathedral at Anba Ruweis in Cairo.The book was reprinted to satisfy the demands from the publicfor their benefit .

    Thanks to those who contributed in issuing this edition,particularly the staff at the Printing Shop at the Great Cathedralin Anba Ruweis.

    Shenouda III

  • 9



    A Jew With A Gentile Character:

    St. Mark was a Jew from the Levite Tribe (1), he preachedboth Jews and Gentiles, but mainly among the gentiles. Hehad two names, "John", is the Jewish name and "Mark", is thegentile one. Mark became his distinctive name. He was born aJew in Africa, thus he is an African born Apostle. Hisbirthplace was in Gyréne, one of the Five Western Cities inLibya, in a small village called Aberyatolos.(2)

    Two Names:

    His Jewish name, "John", meant "The Kindness of God" (3)and it was mentioned twice in the Book of Acts. [Acts 13:5,13]. His Roman name was "Mark" which meant a"hammer"(4), an unfamiliar name to the Jews. (5) Josephus, inhis book, mentioned that he was the cousin of Philo. (6) OurApostle was mentioned as Mark in all the epistles of St. Paul [Cor 4:10 ; Phi 24 ; II Tim 4:11] ; St. Peter in [1 Peter 5:13] andin the Book of Acts [Acts 15:39] On three occasions, his two names were mentioned together.It was either said, John who was named Mark, or John who wasknown as Mark.

  • 10

    A Religious Family :

    Mark was raised in a religious family, many of its memberswere the acquaintance to Lord Christ Himself. His mother wasone of the "Marys" who followed Christ. The believersgathered and prayed at her house, at the time of the Apostles.[Acts 12:12] She was a reverend woman and highly regardedby the early Christians. (7) His father was Artistopolos, a cousin of the wife of St. Peterthe Apostle. St. Paul mentioned that he was also related to Barnabas, oneof the seventy apostles (8) St. Paul told the Colossians, "Aristarchus my fellow prisoner salutes you, and Marcus, sister'sson to Barnabas." [Col 4:10]. However, some of the Greek,Latin and Coptic translations didn't mention the phrase"nephew of Barnabas" (9), may be due to the fact thatsome of the Greek words had more than one meaning. BishopYousab of Fouwa, in his book, "The History of The Patriarchs",wrote that St. Mark was related to St. Thomas the Apostle. A religious family with such ties to the Lord Christ was agood environment for young Mark to grow up. Anba Severus Ben Al Mokafaa, the Bishop of AlAshmouneen, wrote in his book, " The History of ThePatriarchs of Alexandria", that St. Mark the Apostle was born inGyréne to religious parents who knew the Law and theProphets. His uncle Barnabas, or his cousin, was one of the first whosold property and lived a shared life with the Apostles, asmentioned in the Book, "And Joseph who by the Apostles wassurnamed Barnabas, a Levite,(10) from Cyprus", "Having land,sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the Apostles' feet "[Acts 4:36.37]. The Book of Acts testified , "For he was a good

  • 11

    man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith." The Holy Spiritchose him to preach with Paul, telling him, " Separate meBarnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them"[Acts 13:2] With Barnabas, who was filled by the Holy Spirit and faithand with Paul , John and Mark, served as the Book described,"And they had also John to their minister". [Acts 13:5]

    His Birth and Upraising:

    He was born in Gyréne, in the Western Five Cities, where hisfather and uncle were rich. His mother was also rich and wascapable of teaching him Greek, Latin and Hebrew. (11) Heexcelled in them, (12) and became well educated in religion.He studied The Law and the history of the prophets. Becauseof that wealth of knowledge, some thought he was a translatorto Peter the Apostle during his missionary. It was mentioned that some barbaric tribes attacked thefamily's properties in Gyréne, at the time of Augustus Caesar,that forced them to emigrate to Palestine. By the time LordChrist began His teaching, the family was already settledthere.(13) That was how Mark met The Lord and became one of hisdisciples. His mother Mary also hosted Him in her house andwas among the women who served Hi

of 185/185
1 Pope Shenouda III series 2 The Holy Virgin St. Mary BY HIS HOLINESS AMBA SHENOUDA III, POPE AND PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA AND OF THE APOSTOLIC SEE OF ALL THE PREDICATION OF SAINT MARK Translated from the Arabic edition of 1999 Available from: http://www.copticchurch.net
Embed Size (px)