This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
ϯⲉⲕⲕⲗⲏⲥⲓⲁ ⲛ̀ⲧⲉⲑⲉⲟⲇⲟⲕⲟⲥ ϯⲁⲅⲓⲁ ⲙⲁⲣⲓⲁ Ϧⲉⲛ ⲃⲁⲃⲩⲗⲟⲛ ⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ
|Diocese||Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria|
|Bishop(s)||Pope Tawadros II|
|Priest(s)||Fr. Jacob Soliman|
Saint Virgin Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church (Coptic: ϯⲉⲕⲕⲗⲏⲥⲓⲁ ⲛ̀ⲧⲉⲑⲉⲟⲇⲟⲕⲟⲥ ϯⲁⲅⲓⲁ ⲙⲁⲣⲓⲁ Ϧⲉⲛ ⲃⲁⲃⲩⲗⲟⲛ ⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ Church of Mother of God Saint Mary in Egyptian Babylon), also known as the Hanging Church (Arabic: الكنيسة المعلقة, romanized: al-Kanīsa al-Muʿallaqa, Coptic: ϯⲉⲕⲕⲗⲏⲥⲓⲁ ⲉⲥⲓϣⲓ), is one of the oldest churches in Egypt and the history of a church on this site dates to the third century. It belongs to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.
Name and description
The Hanging Church is named for its location above a gatehouse of Babylon Fortress, the Roman fortress in Coptic Cairo (Old Cairo); its nave is suspended over a passage. The church is approached by twenty-nine steps; early travelers to Cairo dubbed it "the Staircase Church". The land surface has risen by some six metres since the Roman period, so the Roman tower is mostly buried below ground, reducing the visual impact of the church's elevated position.
The entrance from the street is through iron gates under a pointed stone arch. The nineteenth-century facade with twin bell towers is then seen beyond a narrow courtyard decorated with modern art biblical designs. Up the steps and through the entrance is a further small courtyard leading to the eleventh-century outer porch.
The Hanging Church was probably built during the patriarchate of Isaac (690–692), though an earlier church building may have elsewhere existed dating as early as the 3rd or 4th century. However, the earliest mention of the church was a statement in the biography of the patriarch Joseph I (831–849), when the governor of Egypt visited the establishment. The church was largely rebuilt by the Pope Abraham (975–978) and has seen many other restorations including an extensive repair and restoration of the church and its surroundings completed in 2011. Objects of historical interest that were no longer of service went to the Coptic Museum.
The church is the site of several reported Marian apparitions. She is said to have appeared in a dream to Pope Abraham in the 970s in the story of how the Mokattam was moved by the faith of Simon the Tanner.
Seat of Coptic Pope
The Seat of the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria was, historically, Alexandria. However, as ruling powers moved away from Alexandria to Cairo after the Muslim conquest of Egypt during Pope Christodolos's tenure, Cairo became the fixed and official residence of the Coptic Pope at the Hanging Church in 1047.
Infighting between the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus and the el Muʿallaqah (the Hanging Church) broke out due to that patriarch's desire to be consecrated in the Hanging Church, a ceremony that traditionally took place at Saints Sergius and Bacchus.
Icons and decoration
The Hanging Church has 110 icons, the oldest of which dates back to the 8th century, but most of them date to the 18th century. Nakhla Al-Baraty Bey gave some of them as gifts, in 1898, when he was the overseer of the church.
Altar: screen and icons
The main altar (Egyptian Arabic: haikal) screen is made of ebony inlaid with ivory that is carved into segments showing several Coptic Cross designs that date back to around the 12th or 13th century. Over the altar screen lies a long row of seven large icons, the central one of which is Christ seated on the throne. On one side, the icons of the Virgin Mary, Archangel Gabriel and St Peter are lined up. On the other, icons of St. John the Baptist, Archangel Michael and St. Paul.
Facade and interior
- Christian Egypt
- Coptic architecture — information on Coptic Orthodox Churches
- List of Coptic Orthodox churches in Egypt
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hanging Church.|
- "Hanging Church - Cairo, Egypt". www.sacred-destinations.com. Retrieved 2018-03-14.
- El-Aref, Nevine (4 January 2011). "Old Cairo's Hanging Church restored". Cairo: Ahram Online. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- BBC Newshour, Oct. 11, 2014, 20:00 GMT.
- "The Hanging Church". www.ask-aladdin.com. Retrieved 2018-03-14.