On the 19th of November, 2012, His Holiness Pope Tawadross II was enthroned as the 118th Patriarch of the Alexandrian See of St. Mark, at the Cathedral of St. Roweiss in Cairo. The enthronement was presided over by Metropolitan Pakhomius of Beheira together with all the metropolitans and bishops of the Coptic church, and was attended by many delegates of Christian Churches.

His Holiness Pope Tawadros II was born Wagih Sobhy Baky Soliman on November 4th, 1952 in Mansoura, Lower Egypt. Because his father was an agricultural engineer, his family relocated a few times his childhood from Mansoura to Sohag in Upper Egypt and then to Damanhour in Lower Egypt.

His Holiness received his bachelor's degree in pharmacy in 1975 from Alexandria University and earned a fellowship for the World Health Organization from the British International Health Institute in England in 1985. He attended the Coptic Seminary and graduated in 1983. He then managed a pharmaceutical company in Damanhour that was owned by the Ministry of Health.

Since his youth, His Holiness deeply desired the life of spirituality and monasticism. At the Monastery of St. Bishoy in Wadi El Natroun, he was consecrated a monk on the 31st of July 1988, and then was ordained a monk-priest on the 23rd of December 1989.

In 1990, he began serving as a monk-priest with His Eminence Metropolitan Pakhomius of Beheira (Lower Egypt), after which he was ordained by the late Pope Shenouda III as a General Bishop assisting Metropolitan Pakhomius. His focus during this time was on serving children; a service he loved and was also responsible for generally on behalf of the Holy Synod. Prior to the papacy, His Holiness had authored twelve spiritual books.

We pray that the Lord preserve his life.




The unprecedented revival of the Coptic Church is one of the great historical events of world Christianity. This spiritual renaissance had its beginnings half a century ago (in the 1940s and 50s) through the Coptic Sunday School movement. Inspired therefore by the challenges they heard about in the Sunday School classes, many young men consecrated their lives to God and joined the desert fathers.

Following the papal enthronement of the late Pope Cyril VI in 1959, some of the former Sunday school teachers and even monks were called to the Episcopacy in order to occupy responsible positions in the life, organisation and service of the church. Among these young men was Nazir Gayed (born 1923), who was consecrated as Father Antonios in the Syrian Monastery in Wadi Natroun (1954-62), and then was ordained Bishop Shenouda responsible for theological and educational institutions in the Coptic Church (1962-71), and is currently His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, the present pope and patriarch of the See of Alexandria and St Mark the Evangelist’s 116th successor. Both the pontificate of Pope Shenouda III and a dynamic, deeply spiritual episcopate have retained the much cherished and long established traditions of the Church whilst filling them with a new sense of spirituality and vision.

Nazir Gayed (H.H. Pope Shenouda) was born in Middle Egypt on August 3, 1923. His mother died shortly after giving birth to him, hence leaving him in the care of 5 sisters and 2 brothers. He attended school in Lower Egypt as well as in Cairo and showed artistic talent in writing and composing poetry at a very young age. He later received a Bachelor of Arts in English and History from Cairo University, and also graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity from the Theological Seminary in Cairo, where he was appointed a lecturer in Biblical Studies. During these years he was instrumental in championing the foundation of spiritual meetings for the church youth, after experiencing the success of the Sunday School movement, founded by his predecessor Habib Girgis.

Following his consecration as a monk in 1954 where he was given the name ‘Antonios’, he spent several years living in solitude in a cave located some 3 kms from the Monastery of the Syrians. But in 1959, the late Pope Cyril VI called the hermit to Cairo in order that he may appoint him his personal secretary. Longing, however, for the solitary life, he withstood all pressure to be consecrated to the episcopacy, and he returned to the desert; this time choosing for himself a cave located 10 kms from the Monastery of the Syrians, where he once again dwelt in complete solitude, until 1962 when he was once again summoned by the Patriarch to return to Cairo. As soon as Father Antonios bowed his head to receive the Patriarch’s blessings, the Patriarch placed his hands on his head and ordained him Bishop Shenouda responsible for Theological education and Sunday Schools.

In response to a letter of congratulations the newly ordained Bishop Shenouda received from a dear friend and scholar, Professor Otto Meinardus, Bishop Shenouda wrote the following:

“…I thank you for your gentle words of congratulations sent to me… As a matter of fact, however, a letter of consolation – not of congratulation – was fit for the occasion. How can a monk be congratulated on leaving the calmness of the desert and abiding again amidst the disturbance of the city? How can anyone congratulate Mary if she leaves her place at the feet of Christ and goes to labour with Martha in the kitchen? For me, it is indeed a matter of shame. I remember that day of my consecration to the Episcopacy with tears and lamentation. Indeed the glory of solitude and contemplation is above measure… The true consecration my dear friend, is the consecration of the heart as a holy temple for the Lord, who on the last day will not ask us for our pastoral grade but for our purity of heart…”

Hence, because of his love for the monastic life, Bishop Shenouda would spend half the week in Cairo preaching and serving, and the other half of the week in the Monastery in quiet contemplation and prayer; a practice he still follows to this very day as Patriarch.

Following the death of the late Pope Cyril VI in 1971, Bishop Shenouda was enthroned as His Holiness Pope Shenouda II, the 117th pope and patriarch of the See of Alexandria. As pope and patriarch, he lectured at the Theological College and Higher Institute of Coptic Studies in Cairo, and established many more seminaries both throughout Egypt and in the Diaspora; namely Australia, USA and Europe. As a scholar he encouraged the various fields of Coptic Studies, and as head of the Church he ordained more than 100 bishops and several hundred priests for the growing service of the Coptic Churches both in Egypt and abroad. He provided weekly Bible Studies in Cairo and Alexandria where many tens of thousands were in attendance. He encouraged the pastoral, spiritual and educational life of the clergy through organising regular seminars and personal attention. And his special attention to the young has led to a very dynamic youth ministry within the Church. His Holiness had always propagated: “A church without youth is a church without future.” And because of his deep commitment to Christian unity, he invested much time and effort in fostering greater ecumenical understanding. His emphasis has always been that Christian unity should be founded on unity of faith.

However, although His Holiness Pope Shenouda had done much in serving world Christianity, in his heart he remained a simple monk, and as such was instrumental in rebuilding and renovating and repopulating several deserted ancient Coptic monasteries.

Our beloved father and patriarch passed over into the Paradise of Joy, into the land of Eternal Living on the 17th of March 2012.

May the Lord repose his precious soul.