By KURT J. WERTHMULLER
The Monastery of St. Simon the Tanner lays nestled in the shadow of Cairo's Muqattam Hills, in an unbearably squalid neighborhood (unofficially known as "Garbage City") that is home to tens of thousands of mostly Christian trash collectors for the massive urban sprawl. It's not an easy trip for visitors to get there, but once the front gates are open, it's clear that something special is inside. St. Simon's is an active and thriving monastic community, but it is also a sort of celebrity sacred space, with two large congregational meeting halls literally carved from the Muqattam Hills—the smaller of which regularly holds 10-15,000 spirited worshipers for weekly meetings.
Victim to frequent attacks in Egypt, the Coptic Orthodox Church has always lived with persecution. Yet the church's early fathers made a decisive contribution to the foundations of Christianity. This video, an H2onews-Mary of Nazareth production, looks back on 2000 years of history.
By: Amin Makram Ebeid, FRCS, FACS.
THE COPTS: THE FORGOTTEN OF HISTORY
When I asked one of my distinguished Egyptian friends for his opinion on the reason behind the neglect of Coptic history in the schools and universities of Egypt, his shocking answer was: -
“perhaps there is nothing to learn from the Copts except for some religious beliefs and practices”…
This may be why the Copts have once been called the forgotten of history. This study is an attempt to recall from the oubliettes of history the impact of the Copts on both the Egyptian Islamic and the Universal histories.
This study will address the contributions of the Copts under the following three main titles:
A- The Impact of the Copts on Universal Christianity.
B- The Missionary and the civilizing roles of the Copts in Europe Africa and Asia
C- The secular contributions of the Copts.
A. THE IMPACT OF THE COPTS ON UNIVERSAL CHRISTIANITY.
It is obvious that it is Christ Who-by His incarnation, crucifixion, death and resurrection- founded Christianity in the region of Judea in Palestine; But Christian theology was actually developed in Alexandria and this included:--
1-The Foundation of the brilliant school of Alexandria (c.180 AD) which became the first catechetical and theological School in the world.
2-The establishment of a church hierarchy and organizations. This Started under Bishop Demetrius of Alexandria, (189-232 AD) who is credited for having established for the Universal Church a lasting pattern of church leadership.
3-The Coptic Church leaders and the Alexandria School are credited to have preeminently helped in establishing for the Universal Church its Dogmatic differentiation which explained, codified and crystallized the Christian beliefs. that it eventually adopted. It was after all the young Athanasius of Alexandria who was supremely influential in producing the most basic document in Church history, namely, the Nicene Creed.
Having said this, it would be interesting to reflect on the reasons that made Alexandria not only i)- the seat of the first Catechetical school that would give Christianity its permanent mould, but also ii)-the provider of the intellectual furnace that will shape the Mediterranean culture for the eventual benefits of both Europe and the Arabs. Those operating factors are summarized in the following table (I):