Pope Kyrillos VI

Hundreds of books, written by hundreds of Copts and others, were published after the departure of Pope Kyrillos, VI. This is phenomenal. His Holiness had captured the hearts of the people and was respected by all of them regardless to their religion. They loved him as a monk and then as their patriarch during his life and after his departure.

My intend isn’t to write the history of his holiness, as his virtues and holiness are well known and has been published every where. I will not repeat what was written before, but to write the impression he left on me as well as others. This patriarch was loved for his humbleness, he was a very simple man. His elevation to head of the church, didn’t change him a bit and remained the same person, he was, just a monk who became a patriarch. He never changed his attitude towards people, never even changed the type of meals, he used to eat in the wilderness or the windmill where he lived most of his life.

From the first day he was ordained to be a priest, he celebrated the Holy Eucharist on everyday of his life. He was a man of God, and believed truly that it was always the will of God that prevailed in everything. Many people did witness the transparency and vision he acquired, that is only known to the saints.
The Late Father Salib Sourial of St. Mark Church, Giza, Egypt, once visited the Vatican and was hopeful he would be able to have audience with the Pope of Rome. Only when the Pope of Rome, was briefed that the Coptic priest was a lawyer and professor of Canon Law at the Clerical College in Cairo, that he accepted to meet him privately. Father Salib relayed to me that H.H. The Pope of Rome in his conversation with him referred to Pope Kyrillos as a contemporary saint. He was.
Without going in much details, he was born in Damanhour on August 8th 1902 He became a monk in the Monastery of El Baramous, when he was 25 years old. Six years later he was ordained a priest and was given the name of Mina, however he was known as Mina the Hermit as he lived away from people literally in a cave. His favorite Patron was St. Mina. In 1936 he lived in the district of Old Cairo, in a windmill, alone, for years till he built a church by the name of his Patron St. Mina.
Fr. Mina was chosen to be the Patriarch and was enthroned as pope on May 10, 1971. Many people were taken by surprise to see who was the man to become the head of the Coptic Church and were wondering how with a moderate degree of education would handle such an important position. The Divine care guided him in every action and situation that the church flourished during his papacy.
At the beginning the relation between the government and the Patriarchate could be described as cold, but with his wisdom and prayers things became much smoother. At one time, Pope Kyrillos had "phlebitis" in his leg, a serious condition, and was unable to walk. He was in bed, receiving treatment and apparently, this wasn’t known to the government. As he was in bed, unable to stand or walk, he received a request, or may we say, an order from the government to participate in an arranged demonstration and to walk hand in hand with the Grand Sheik of Al Azhar in the streets of Cairo, to show solidarity to the government, against Britain. Three physicians, Dr. Halim Gereis an eminent surgeon at the Anglo-Egyptian Hospital, Dr. Shafeek Abd El Malek, Professor of Anatomy at The Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University and Dr. Samir Farag, Director of Helwan Orthopedic Hospital, were called to examine the Pope and to sign a medical certificate that the Pope was sick, in bed and could not participate in the walk.
Years later the Late President Gamal Abd El Nasser began to know the true man, Pope Kyrillos and established a cordial personal friendship with him. He used to invite him tohis home and meet his family. Through this personal contact he relayed to the president some of the stress felt by the Copts. Nasser asked him about the number of permits to build churches needed by the church every year and when he knew what the pope suggested he doubled that number. When Nasser heard about the intent of Pope Kyrillos to buy and build the Church of St. Mina in Mariut area, he called his children and asked them to bring their savings and give them to the pope.!! Also when Nasser knew about his intend to build a new cathedral, he gave the pope a check of hundred thousand Egyptian pounds as a contribution for this purpose. Abd El Nasser told the Pope later that he received death thread because he contributed money to build a church. The president participated actively in the celebration of receiving the relics of St. Mark in Cairo. It is known among many Copts that this special relation between Abd El Nasser and the pope was due to a personal experience, that the late president had and was beneficial through the prayers of Anba Kyrillos.
He realized a need to organize the church and to establish new bishoprics. He felt a need for education, research etc. which were established, together with an important bishopric, the Bishopric for Social and Ecumenical Affairs. He appointed his secretary Father Makary El Soriany to this sensitive position and named him, "Bishop Samuel", who was a flame of energy that solved many problems between the church and the government. He would stay for hours and hours and till midnight in government offices trying to put things into its proper order. Thousands of people found in him, God’s send person, to lift any injustice that had suffered.. He continuously met cabinet members and people in authority and helped many Copts who complained to the church about their problems.
His papacy will be remembered that during his time, the Virgin Mary’s Apparitions happened in Egypt. He succeeded in reviving the history of the Egyptian Martyr St. Mina and building a monastery and a church after his name in a place believed to be where St. Mina lived so many centuries ago. He began his project at a time he had no money. When he went to sign the contract to buy the land, the money he had was just enough for the deal. When he signed the contract he put his name and the name of Dr. Hanna Youssef Hanna, beside his. When Hanna asked him why he did that, he replied that he wanted be sure that he would serve it till he dies.
He will be remembered that he gave permission to the Egyptians who emigrated abroad to build the first Coptic Orthodox Churches in the United States and Canada and sending Bishop Samuel to overcome any difficulty and to encourage the newly settled Copts to have their own churches and to continue to belong to the Mother Church in Egypt. Pope Shenouda III extended this effort after he was enthroned have an honorable record in increasing the number of the churches that followed all over the world and appointing bishops in Europe and USA.
This is the story of a great man, a story that was witnessed in our time and will be remembered along the ages.
This is the history of a simple man who loved his church and the church loved him.

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