A multimodal program has been implemented in Egypt in the field of cooperation between Russian and Coptic theological schools

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From November 24 to December 4, 2023, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and at the invitation of His Holiness Patriarch Tawadros II of Coptic, a delegation of teachers, staff and students of St. Petersburg Theological Schools visited Egypt with the aim of developing inter-church cooperation in the academic field, as well as making pilgrimages to the ancient Christian shrines of this land.
The trip took place within the framework of the activities of the Commission for Dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Coptic Church and was timed to coincide with significant dates in the history of the Coptic Church celebrated this year at the end of November — the 130th anniversary of the opening of the St. Athanasius of Alexandria Coptic Theological Academy in Cairo and the 50th anniversary of the establishment of one of the largest Coptic theological schools — the El-SeminaryMuharrak monastery in the name of the Most Holy Theotokos (Assiut province).
The delegation was headed by Archpriest Vladimir Khulap, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy.
Representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate got acquainted with the life and structure of the Al-Muharraq monastery and the seminary located within its walls.
According to Coptic legend, the monastery is located at the place where the Holy Family stayed for more than six months during their flight to Egypt. According to the well-established version in Egypt, it was this place that the prophet Isaiah announced when he said that the altar to the Lord would be in the middle of the Egyptian land (see Isaiah 19:19). The members of the delegation visited ancient monastic temples, representative and business premises and talked with the brethren.
At the seminary, the members of the Russian delegation were welcomed by representatives of the teaching corporation headed by the first Vice-rector, Hieromonk Arseny El-Muharraki. On behalf of the delegation, Archpriest Vladimir Khulap congratulated the father of the Vice-rector, mentors and students on the anniversary of the seminary and expressed hope for the continuation of active and fruitful cooperation between the leading educational institutions of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Coptic Church. The guests visited the classrooms and classes and, together with the seminarians, attended several classes, including a lecture and a seminar on the Holy Scriptures of the New Testament. Representatives of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy and the El Muharraq Seminary also made a series of cross-reports in English on the peculiarities of worship and temple architecture of each of the two Churches.
A meeting of the delegation with the rector of the monastery, rector of the seminary Bishop Vukol took place in the episcopal chambers of the monastery. He warmly welcomed representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate, shared memories of his visit to Russia in August 2021 at the head of a delegation of hegumens and monks of the Coptic Church and confirmed his readiness to personally contribute to the further development of inter-church cooperation in the field of spiritual education.
On November 30, the delegation arrived in Cairo. Representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church took part in the event held at the St. Petersburg Cultural Center. Reweis Stage a solemn act in honor of the 130th anniversary of the opening of the Coptic Theological Academy. The ceremony was led by His Holiness Patriarch Tawadros II of Copts and the rector of the Academy, the first Patriarchal Vicar of Cairo, Bishop Michael. Members of the Holy Synod and numerous clergy of the Coptic Church were present, as well as representatives of a number of government departments and public organizations in Egypt. At the end of the act, the delegation members had a brief conversation with the Primate of the Coptic Church, who asked them to convey "the most cordial greetings and best wishes to his Beloved Brother, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, and the entire God-saved flock of the great Russian Church."
Then the delegation visited the St. Athanasius of Alexandria Academy and met with its management and students. A joint seminar on the modern system of church education in Russia and current areas of professional activity of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy and other higher educational institutions of the Moscow Patriarchate was held in the assembly hall of the Academy.
The delegation's stay in Egypt lasted until December 4. The guests visited the Coptic monasteries founded at the turn of the IV-V centuries in the territory of the present Sohag province — the monastery of St. Shenouda (White Monastery), the monastery of St. Psoy (Red Monastery) and two monasteries within the boundaries of the urban settlement of Akhmim, consecrated in the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary and 8000 martyrs who suffered for Christ in 284 under Emperor Diocletian.
In Cairo, the delegation visited Christian shrines and cultural attractions of the Egyptian capital, including the Patriarchal Cathedral in honor of the Apostle Mark and the Cathedral of the First Apostles Peter and Paul; the famous "Hanging Church" (Muallaka), built on the ruins of the ancient Roman fortress "Babylon of Egypt", which for a long time was the cathedral of the Coptic Patriarchs; the Church of the Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus, under which there is a grotto where the Holy Family once stayed; the Church of the Mother of God in Zeitoun, in the sky above which the mysterious apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary took place in 1968-1971; the Coptic Museum, the Egyptian Museum and the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.

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