Current Coptic descendants of Egypt’s population originated from their connection to Mediterranean, European residents of Caucasian skin. Their members are distinguished by the color of their skin, with outstanding gradation from a very light white tone to a darker black tone. Along with the descendants of Pharaohs, they all formed the population of Egypt. A French statistic claimed that during the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte, 88% of the Egyptian population was ancient Egyptian Coptic families.
The Coptic population in Jerusalem and Palestine amounts to 2500. Over 1,500 have been living in the 1948 territory, since their leader, Coptic Suleiman, who formed the Coptic sect.
Historians and orientalists shared their differences in determining the number of Copts in Palestine throughout history, as well as their population in Jerusalem. In 1817, a westerner was able to provide the number of Copts in Jerusalem, which amounted to 50. Furthermore, in 1837, an epidemic plagued Jerusalem, which led to the death of many people from various Christian sects Christian. It was estimated that the number of Copts in the epidemic comprised of seven members. In 1853, a traveler said that the number of Copts in Jerusalem was not that high compared to other Christian denominations. The Roman Orthodox members amounted to approximately 2000, the Catholic sect estimated about 900 members, and the Armenian denomination contained 350 personnel, which exceeds the Coptic community in Jerusalem. Additionally, the number of Syrians in Jerusalem was 20, which is similar to the figure of the Ethiopian sect.
There are dozens of families which original Coptic decent in Jerusalem, and the most well-known and important families are the following: Khoury, Habash, Razzouk, Gideon, Qubth, Minarios, Halabi, Mina, and Murkus. This reveals the evolution of the Coptic presence in Jerusalem throughout history.
The Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem has had a presence at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Church of the Resurrection) and in Jerusalem since the time Queen Helena founded the church in the 4th century.
The Coptic Orthodox Church, which like the Ethiopian and Eritrean churches makes reference to Alexandrian tradition, has its origin in Egypt. A tradition holds that the Copts arrived in Palestine in the 4th century, as a result of the visit of Saint Helena (Constantine’s mother) although, in all probability, their first contacts with the Holy Places occurred through monastic experiences.
The Copts, who today in Jerusalem number about 5,000 concentrated around their archbishop who resides in the Monastery of Saint Anthony beside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, have use of the altar attached to the rear of the Edicule. Moreover, a Coptic monk is always present at the altar, recognizable by his gold-embroidered black hat.
Their services, which take place every Sunday in front of their altar, are held in Arabic with a portion in Coptic, a language formed from ancient Egyptian mixed with Greek.
In Jerusalem, the Copts have several buildings in the Christian Quarter of the Old City including Monasteries, Convents and schools.
Situated literally on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the Coptic Patriarchate of Jerusalem. This includes the Patriarchate itself (His Eminence’s residence), St Anthony’s Monastery, 5 Churches and St Anthony’s Coptic College (Secondary).
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