“May the prayer of the Coptic martyrs, united with that of the Theotokos, continue to grow the friendship between our Churches, until the blessed day when we can celebrate together at the same altar and commune in the same Body and Blood of the Savior, ‘that the world may believe,’” Francis said.
In a speech during a meeting with Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, and other Coptic Orthodox representatives on May 11, 2023, Pope Francis announced that the Coptic Orthodox martyrs killed by ISIS in 2015 will be added to the Catholic Church’s official list of saints. Credit: Vatican Media
Tawadros II said the Coptic Orthodox Church has recognized the holiness of the Coptic martyrs, and celebrates them with other modern martyrs every 8th of Amshir, the sixth month of the Coptic calendar, which roughly corresponds to Feb. 15 on the Gregorian calendar used by the Catholic Church.
“Today we hand over part of their relics, dipped in their blood shed in the name of Christ for the Church, so that they may be remembered in the martyrology of all the Churches of the world, and know ‘we too’ are ‘surrounded by such a multitude of witnesses,’” he said.
“Precisely because the saints are one of the main pillars of our Churches, beginning with the apostles Peter, Paul, and Mark,” Tawadros said, “we now write in the martyrology of the Churches the new martyrs who have guarded the faith and bore witness to Christ, who did not lose heart in the face of torture and passed on to us a living example in martyrdom.”
Thursday’s meeting between Pope Francis and Tawadros II, which also included a private conversation, concluded with prayer in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.
The encounter was one of several events this week marking the 50th anniversary of a historic meeting between St. Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria, which was a turning point in relations between the Catholic and Coptic Orthodox Churches.
On Wednesday, Pope Francis and Tawadros II held the Vatican’s weekly public audience together, each expressing his gratitude for the friendship of the two Churches.
May 10 marked the 10th commemoration of the “Day of Coptic-Catholic Friendship.”
On May 10, 1973, St. Paul VI and Tawadros’ predecessor, Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria, signed a joint declaration that marked a major development in relations between the Latin Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church.