Feb 22, 2008
Book by Otto R. A. Meinardus
When people hear of modern day Egypt, they think that the majority of its people are Muslim. However, many Christians also reside there. The largest group is part of the Coptic Orthodox Church whose leader is Pope Shenuda III, the Patriarch of Alexandria and the successor of St. Mark the Evangelist.
Coptic Christians are descendants of Egyptians who lived during the time of the pharaohs. As Otto Meinardus presents in this book, which is the final part of a trilogy on Egyptian Christians (Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity (1999) and Coptic Saints and Pilgrimages (2002)), Christian monasticism has its roots in the Egyptian desert. St Antony or Anthony the Great is considered the founder or father of monasticism, especially eremitic (hermit) monasticism; while St. Pachomius is considered the founder or father of cenobitic (community) monasticism. Christian Egypt also produced some of the great Fathers of the Church like St. Athanasius, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and others.
The Coptic Christians split from the rest of Christianity over the nature of Christ. The Coptic Church was able to continue to grow in Egypt and to expand down the Nile River into Sudan and Ethiopia. There are other Christians in Egypt, but these groups are not as numerous as the Coptics. They include the Greek Orthodox Church, the Armenian Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and various Protestant groups.