St. Mark’s Coptic Cathedral in Alexandria, Egypt is the seat of the Pope of Alexandria, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The cathedral is believed to have been built in 60 A.D. on the site of the church founded by St. Mark the Evangelist.

St. Mark was the author of the second Gospel in the New Testament, and he has always been closely associated with the city of Alexandria. Historians believe he arrived in Alexandria around 60 A.D. and lived there for more than seven years. During this time, St. Mark converted many to Christianity and performed numerous miracles.

St. Mark is considered the founder of the church in Alexandria and the first Bishop of Alexandria. According to historians, St. Mark was arrested during a festival of Serapis in 68 A.D. and was martyred by being dragged through the streets. He was buried under the church he had founded.

In 828, the remains of St. Mark were stolen from the church by Venetians to be enshrined in the brand new St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy. However, the head of the saint remained in Alexandria, and every newly appointed patriarch of Alexandria began his service by holding the holy head of St. Mark in his lap and changing its cloth shroud.

The head of St. Mark was moved around a great deal over the centuries and has been lost for over 250 years. Some of the relics from the body of St. Mark were returned from Rome in 1968. The church’s immense interior is filled with graceful, stylish arches. Chandeliers hang above the pews, lighting the beautiful rendition of The Last Supper above the altar. Additional artwork of Coptic engravings, stained glass windows and paintings of scenes from the life of Jesus Christ and the Apostles fill the interior.

The church follows the Alexandrian Rite for its liturgy, prayer and devotional patrimony. With more than 18 million members worldwide, with most of those followers in Egypt, St. Mark’s Coptic Cathedral is the country’s largest Christian church. The church is located at 66 Ebadah Ibn Al Samet – Al Naby Danyan in Alexandria, Egypt.

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Kelly Wise Valdes
Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.