Ave Maria! In Egypt, high ranking Muslim government leaders joined Coptic clergy and the laity in an event honoring the Holy Family’s journey through Egypt. This reminds me of how earlier this year, in Jordan, many Muslim government leaders joined Christian clergy at the celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation, to show solidarity and try to bring increased harmony between Christians and Muslims.
When Constantine became the Emperor of Rome, he knew a divided Christendom was against his political interest, for a divided Empire would be more unstable, so he called for the Council of Nicaea to bring unity. The efforts of these Muslim governments to increase unity may well be motivated by a similar political interest. In Egypt, acts of unity and solidarity like this have potential to increase peace, which of course is better for tourism, a cornerstone of the Egyptian economy. Egypt and Jordan also are deeply involved in battling against Islamist terrorists within their own borders, and public acts showing solidarity between Christians and Muslims may help these governments to erode radical militants’ support groups.
Muslim officials’ public acts of participation in Marian Christian religious celebrations are very interesting to me, and may in part be a fruit of the prayers so many people are making for peace.
Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark celebrated on Sunday the Holy Family Journey at Virgin Mary Church in Maadi district, Southern Cairo.
The national anthem was played and documentaries featuring the Holy Family Journey in Egypt were displayed.
The event was attended by the ministers of antiquities, tourism, and culture and a raft of officials, statesmen as well as ambassadors.
In his speech, Pope Tawadros II said the Holy Family settled at the location where the Virgin Mary Monastery and church were later built by the Nile, before they continued their journey in Upper Egypt passing by Assiut and Minya.
Pope Tawadros II stressed that Egypt is beautiful for its people and monuments, praising the concert and the documentary film presented by the church.
“This is a purely Egyptian celebration, which shows the richness of the country’s history, nature and culture,” he said, expressing his happiness at raising awareness among Egyptians about the journey of the Holy Family.