His Holiness Pope Shenouda III

117th Pope of Alexandria and
Patriarch of the See of St. Mark

Biography

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Biography

by Father Mikhail E. Mikhail

From the land of the great ancient Egyptian civilization, the land visited by Our Lord and the Holy Family, and from the line of renowned predecessors such as St. Mark the Apostle, St. Athanasius the Apostolic, and St. Cyril the Great, comes the author of the renaissance of the Coptic Orthodox Church: H. H. Pope Shenouda III.

A distinguished and prominent religious leader, a profound theologian, a gifted preacher, a talented author, a spiritual father, a man of God his entire life.

His Holiness was born Nazeer Gayed on August 3, 1923, to a pious Christian family in Egypt. By the age of 16, H. H. was active in the Sunday School movement, which wrought to enrich Christian Education in the Coptic Orthodox Church.

When H. H. graduated from Cairo University, he joined the Coptic Orthodox Seminary, and upon graduation, joined the faculty of the seminary.

On July 18, 1954, H. H. chose the solitude of the Egyptian desert and the angelic life of monasticism over everything else, taking the example of St. Anthony the Great. As a monk, and later a monk priest, H. H. carried the name of the Christian monk and was know as Fr. Antonious El-Syriani.

Wishing to live in complete solitude and devotion to our Lord, he became a hermit and lived in a cave that he had carved out himself for a period of six years. On September 30, 1962, he was called by the late Pope Cyril VI to be consecrated Bishop of Christian Education and President of the Coptic Orthodox Theological Seminary. He was known as His Grace Bishop Shenouda. Through his leadership of the seminary, the number of students tripled.

On November 14, 1971, His Grace Bishop Shenouda was consecrated as His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, the 117th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark.

Since that blessed day, the Coptic Orthodox Church has witnessed a remarkable revival through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the pastoral care of H. H. Pope Shenouda III. H. H. conducts a weekly meeting, which is attended by over seven thousand of the faithful at the Cathedral of St. Mark in Cairo.

H. H has been the editor-in-chief of El-Keraza Magazine, the official publication of the Coptic Orthodox Church, since 1962. He became the first patriarch of Alexandria since the Fifth Century to have been Dean of the Theological Seminary and continues to lecture at the branches of the Seminary in Cairo, Alexandria, and abroad and the Higher Institute of Coptic Studies. He also established other branches of the Seminary in Egypt as well as in America, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

His Holiness is the author of 101 books on a variety of subjects, over half of which have been translated into English, French, German, Italian, and other languages.

He has ordained more than eighty Metropolitans and Bishops and over 600 priests since 1971. He gives special attention to the youth of the church. H. H. has said many times, “A church without youth is a church without a future.” And one of our youth once replied to H. H., “And youth without the church are youth without a future.”

H. H. also gives special attention to the service of women in the Coptic Orthodox Church. H. H. said, and I quote, “We felt a great need of the work of women and we wanted women to have a certain order and service in the church, not only to have girls as Sunday School teacher who give a part of their time whenever they can, but we want girls and women to give their whole life to God and serve the Church.”

Despite his many responsibilities, H. H. usually manages to spend three days a week in the monastery. His love of monasticism has led a monastic revival in the Coptic Orthodox Church. He has ordained hundreds of monks and nuns and reestablished many monasteries and convents. He is the first pope to establish Coptic monasteries outside of Egypt, which presently number nine.

One of the most remarkable things about the growth of the Coptic Orthodox Church is her expansion worldwide. When H. H. became pope in 1971, there were only four churches in North America. Today, there are over 100.

The year 1996 witnessed the installation of the fist two Diocesan bishops for the United States, one for Los Angeles and the other for the Southern United States. There are plans to further group the churches into regional dioceses in the near future.

H. H. has established mission churches in the U. S. Virgin Islands in St. Thomas, Bermuda, and St. Kitts. Moreover, he founded the first Coptic Orthodox Church in South America in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and the second in Bolivia.

Under his leadership, the Coptic Orthodox Church has also witnessed a growth in Australia and New Zealand, where there are currently twenty-eight churches. In 1999, we witnessed the enthronement of the first bishop over Melbourne, Australia and New Zealand. In Europe, there are currently over fifty church and ten bishops. Africa currently has two bishops serving in missions in nine African countries.

His Holiness Pope Shenouda III is well known for his deep commitment to Christian Unity. In an address he gave at an ecumenical forum during the International Week of Prayer in 1974, he declared, “The whole Christian world is anxious to see the church unite. Christian people, being fed up with divisions, are pushing their church leaders to do something about church unity and I am sure that the Holy Spirit is inspiring us.”

H. H. has emphasized that Christian Unity must be found upon a unity of faith and not a unity of jurisdiction. As a result, H. H. has paid many visits to the various sister Orthodox churches and their patriarchs, such as those of Constantinople, Moscow, Romania, and Antioch. A full communion of these churches with the Oriental Orthodox Churches is very close.

In 1973, H. H. was the first Coptic Orthodox pope to visit the Vatican in over 1500 years. In this visit, both H. H. Pope Shenouda III and H. H. Pope Paul VI signed a common declaration on the issue of Christology and agreed to establish joint commissions for dialogue on unity. There have also been dialogues with various Protestant churches worldwide.

Under the leadership of H. H., the Coptic Orthodox Church is a full member of the World Council of Churches, the Middle East Council of Church, the All-African Council of Churches, the National Council of the Churches in Christ in the U.S.A., the Canadian Council of Churches, and the Australian Council of Churches. In May 2000, he established the first ecumenical office, in the Archdiocese of North America.

His Holiness passed away on March 17th of 2012 after more than forty years as the Pope and Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Under his guidance, the Coptic Church flourished and saw an age of spiritual revival.

--Biography by Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail of St. Mark's Church of Cleveland, Ohio.


Books by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III in English

Book Format
Calmness
There is no doubt that the whole world is striving for calmness. Calmness of the character, tranquility of the heart, stillness of the senses, calmness of the nerves and peacefulness of the thoughts and the mind. In this book, His Holiness will expound on these Christian virtues and how to attain them.
How to Relate to Children
Bringing up children in a Christian environment and instilling Christian values is the most important duty of parents and servants alike. This book tells about the characteristics of children in two stages: early childhood and late childhood. In order to relate to children, one must know their mentality.
Comparative Theology
This book addresses, in the context of theological dialogue, some points of dissimilarity between the Coptic Orthodox Church and our Protestant brethren, namely Baptism, Tradition, Intercession, Venerating the Holy Virgin, her perpetual virginity, Fasting and more.
Diabolic Wars
When you know your enemy and his methods of fighting, you can be on guard against him. This book explains to you these methods. It explains how the devil works, and reveals to you his attributes and the techniques he uses to get hold of Christs children.
Discipleship
The life of ministry, of serving God, begins with discipleship. And the deeper the individual goes in his discipleship, the more successful and effective is his ministry. Blessed is he who lives as a disciple throughout his life, learning every day.
The Divinity of Christ
This book is a concentrated research on the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ using verses from the Holy Bible. This book can be a reply to Jehovahs Witnesses and Sabbatherians concerning this point in particular.
Experiences in Life
This book does not present you with a single subject, but with a collection of various separate experiences, ideas, and situations. It gives pictures from lifepractical pictures. Each picture gives a particular lesson or bears a certain meaning.
Life of Faith
This book is the fruit of more that 15 lectures delivered in St. Marks Cathedral in Cairo. They were published upon the request of Middle East Church Council on the occasion of a meeting held on "faith" in mid-September 1984.
The Spirituality of Fasting
This book is not research into fasting from the viewpoint of doctrine and theology but a presentation of fasting in its spirituality which is the relationship between the one who fasts and God and how one develops and deepens it through fasting.
The Feast of the Epiphany
Holy Zeal
This book is the second in a collection specially designed for meetings and classes for those engaged in ministry or preparing for ministry.
Jehovah's Witnesses
Contemplations on the Book of Jonah
The holy Church's concern over the story of Jonah the Prophet with the Ninevites has surpassed her concern for many other Biblical stories. She designated for it a feast, preceded by a three-day fast for the whole congregation in strict asceticism in order to guide us to repent as the people of Nineveh did. The story of Jonah is more than a prophet being swalled by a large fish. This book will help bring to life the spiritual significance and depth of the story of Jonah the Prophet.
Lord How? Contemplations on Psalm 3
Previously presented was Psalm "19 and 20" "The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble" in one book. It is the first psalm of the third hour prayer. Here Pope Shenouda III offers you another book about a psalm of the morning prayer.
Homosexuality, The Ordination of Women
Priesthood
Almost all of this book is a rejection of the erroneous understanding of the verse in the Bible which says: To Him who loves us and...Has made us to be a kingdom and priests...(Rev. 1:16), which the Brotherhood say means either: that we are all priests or, that there is only one priest, who is Christ. In this book, however, you will read: 1) A defense of the Old Testament. 2) A thorough examination of the sacrament of the Eucharist. 3) A study o the authority to lose and bind 4) A reply to many other objections, including the incorrect interpretations of various verses, such as, Do not call anyone on earth father, Nor are you to be called teacher and ..You are not to be called Rabbi, for you have only one Master and you are all brothers (Matt 23:8-10) 5) The duties of the priesthood and its titles and authority.
The Release of the Spirit
What is to be released from the spirit ? The answer is that the spirit, while on earth, strives to be released from many things which this book will tell you about.. However, there is something else on earth which I think the spirit cannot be released from however it tries!
Life of Repentance and Purity
Repentance is not a stage through which we pass through, then finish from. But it is life. It is a daily work that we practice everyday, since we sin everyday and are in need of repentance.
Contemplations on the Resurrection
This is the first book by Pope Shenouda III published about the Resurrection. It is the outcome of many lectures and sermons delivered on this topic. The book consists of three important elements: 1. A general view of the Resurrection, how it is necessary, possible and useful; and its spiritual and general effect. 2. Various articles on the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ including events, its power and joy, and proofs and confirmation about authenticity. 3. The third part challenges the reader by asking 5 important questions. We hope that you may experience the effectiveness of the Resurrection in your life.
Return to God
The most dangerous thing about sin is that it means a separation from God; being cut off from Him in ones heart, in ones love, in ones will and in ones activity. It is to be parted from Him on earth and in heaven. How can we return back to Him?
The Sermon on the Mount
Included here are 16 lectures delivered by H.H Pope Shenouda the III on the Sermon on the Mount. They include the nine beatitudes and the words of our Lord. The Sermon on the Mount is indeed the constitution of Christianity. It is worthy of more meditation by you and while reading these and other contemplations you may be encouraged to learn it by heart.
The Spiritual Ministry
Saint Mark the Evangelist
The Seven Words of Our Lord on the Cross
Tears in the Spiritual Life
Ten Concepts
In this book are presented to young people in particular the Christian perspective on ten concepts including: the Concept of Power, the Concept of Freedom, the Concept of Rest & Fatigue, the Concept of Ambition, the Concept of Sin, the Concept of Love & Friendship and more.
The Life of Thanksgiving
What does the word thanksgiving truly mean? There are different levels of thanksgiving, the reasons to be thankful and the virtues related to thanksgiving such as humility and patience.
The Angels
The Feast of the Annunciation
The Feast of the Cross
The Holy Virgin Saint Mary
The Transfiguration
The Two Saints Peter and Paul
Thine is the Power and the Glory
The Hymn of Thok Te Ti Ghom or "Thine is the Power and the Glory..." is chanted thoughout the entire Holy Week. Indeed, Lord, Thine is the Power and the Glory and the Blessing and the Honor forever AmenYou, Lord, are the Only Mighty One who overcame the sin, the world and the devil You, Lord, demonstrated an amazing power throughout. Find out the spiritual significance of this hymn, taken from the book of Revelation and why it is chanted throughout the Holy week. An excellent book to read and meditate on during the Holy week and to help further understand what took place on the cross.