The roots of the Coptic Church stretch back to the year 43 A.D., a time when St. Mark the Evangelist established it in the vibrant city of Alexandria, all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the central pillars of its belief system is its unwavering commitment to the Nicene Creed, a cornerstone of Christian doctrine.
Notably, in 325 A.D., during the historic Council of Nicaea, St. Athanasius, who was the twentieth Pope of the Coptic Church, staunchly defended the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. His unwavering commitment to this doctrine earned him titles such as the "Father of Orthodoxy" and "the Apostolic."
This ancient Christian tradition bears the full name of the Coptic Orthodox Church, also officially recognized as the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. The term "Coptic" traces its origins to the Greek word "Aigyptos," which translates to "Egyptian." Interestingly, when the Arab community arrived in Egypt during the seventh century, they referred to both Egyptians and Christians as "qibt," and thus, the term "Coptic" encompassed a dual meaning.
Within the context of the Coptic Church, "Orthodoxy" signifies the preservation of the "Original Faith." Throughout its rich history, the Coptic community has valiantly defended the ancient Creed against countless challenges and threats.
At the helm of the Coptic Orthodox Church is the Pope, who is also known as the Bishop of Alexandria. This role is deeply rooted in Egypt's Christian heritage. The current Pope, Pope Tawadros II, ascended to the position as the 118th pope on November 18, 2012.
In keeping with the church's traditions, the Pope serves as the chairman and head of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. The Holy Synod stands as the highest governing body in the Church of Alexandria, boasting a global membership of 12 to 18 million faithful, with a significant portion residing in Egypt itself. Additionally, the Pope holds the position of chairman within the church's General Congregation Council.
This article serves as a concise introduction to the Coptic Orthodox Church. In our upcoming article, we will take a closer look at the world of Coptic Orthodox monasteries, offering readers a deeper understanding of this remarkable faith tradition.