Saint Mary & Saint Philopateer Abu Saifain Coptic Orthodox Church

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St Mary and St Mercurius Coptic Orthodox Church is the first Coptic Orthodox Church in Wales, at St Mary Street in Risca, Newport, Wales.

It was consecrated in 1992 by Pope Shenouda III in the town of Risca, South Wales, under the official name of St Mary’s and St Abu Saifain’s Coptic Orthodox Church as a parish of the Coptic Orthodox Church. NB: St Abu Saifain meaning "the Double-sworded" in Arabic is another name of Saint Mercurius.

Website : [1]


Reverend Father Philopater Wahba in the church[2]

The current priest is Rev. Fr. Father Philopater Wahba, who has a degree in medicine MBBS and was a consultant in orthopaedic surgery in Egypt. During his work, he graduated from the Coptic Orthodox Theological University (three years graduate course) in Cairo and from the Institution of Pastoral Care (two-year course). He was ordained in Egypt in 1996 by Pope Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch on the Holy See of St Mark, and was given the name Philopater after St. Philopater Mercurius who is also known as St Abu Saifain.

History of the building[edit]

The church building was a former Wesleyan Methodist church. Founded in 1837, it was rebuilt on the same site in 1852 and was dedicated to St John. The architect is unknown. The church was designed to seat 600 people. It was later known as "Trinity Methodist Church".[3]

The church is a listed historic building (Grade II[4]) for its well-preserved architectural interest, its unusual slender arcades and especially for its fine decorative frontage.


Interior of the church[5]

The exterior of the church is of a nonconformist chapel with gable end facade in Romanesque style. Red and beige roughly dressed sandstone with cream ashlar is used to define very decoratively the architectural features; artificial slate roof with ashlar coping. Centre three bays are framed by pilasters and the bracketed antae which continue diagonally to apex surmounted by the short bellcote with embattled cornice.


Two upper-storey pilasters rising from the doorway cornice separate the 3 windows; these are of equal length, long, round-headed with long nook shafts, simple fluted capitals and an impost band; above the central window is the datestone, a shield under a round-arched hood.

The central entrance breaks forward slightly and has a wide moulded round-arched doorway with voussoirs above and impost band; recessed boarded double doors. Set back to each side are small round-headed windows linking with the continuous impost band. To each side are bays with similar though smaller entrance doorways with similar round-headed windows above and end pilasters completing the vertical composition.

The windows have some decorative glazing incorporating glass in cool colours—predominantly blue, green, mauve. Rendered 5-bay side elevation has round arched windows with chamfered surround separated by pilasters with offset; renewed glazing. Attached rear wing, former Sunday School, retains Welsh slate roof and ventilators.

Interior partly converted to Coptic Orthodox liturgical use. Unusual aisled roof structure, wooden trusses rising from posts set on the very tall slender marbled columns with Corinthian derived capitals, which also support the high round arches of a wooden arcade; painted boarded ceiling. Wide moulded reredos arch and gallery. Rear raked gallery with curved and panelled front; pews on both floors retained. Vestibule has glazed panels to partition and swing doors with quarry glazing incorporating Art Nouveau motifs.

See also[edit]

Other Coptic Orthodox churches[edit]


  1. ^ "Saint Mary and Saint Philopateer Abu Saifain Coptic Orthodox Church,UK". Saint Mary and Saint Philopateer Abu Saifain Coptic Orthodox Church,UK. Retrieved 2016-04-14.
  2. ^ Taken by Dr. Victor Aziz
  3. ^ Jones, A. V. (1977) Risca, its Industrial and Social Development
  4. ^ British listed buildings
  5. ^ Taken by Dr Victor Aziz

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°36′53″N 3°06′19″W / 51.6146°N 3.1053°W / 51.6146; -3.1053