On this day, of the year 1684 (Wednesday, June 26th, 1968), the church celebrated the first Pontifical Liturgy in the new St. Mark Cathedral in the monastery of Anba Rowais, which was known as Dair El-Khandaq, where the relics of St. Mark were placed after his return from Venice and Rome.
On the morning of Wednesday the 19th of Baounah (June 26th) at about six o'clock, Pope Kyrillos took the box of the relics of St. Mark, that he had placed on the altar of the old St. Mark Cathedral in El-Azbakiah upon its arrival. He brought it in his private car to the new St. Mark Cathedral.
The Pontifical Divine Liturgy that was celebrated on this occasion was headed by H.H. Pope Kyrillos the Sixth, and participating with him were the patriarch Mari Ignatius Yacoub the Third, the Antiochian Patriarch for the Syrian Orthodox, and a number of Syrian, Indian and Armenian Orthodox bishops. This celebration was attended by Emperor Haile Selassie the First, Emperor of Ethiopia, Cardinal Doval, the head of the Roman Papal delegation and Cardinal of Algeria, many of the heads of different religions and representatives of churches from all around the world, and more than six thousand Egyptians and foreigners.
During the Liturgy, the box that contained the relics of St. Mark the Apostle was placed on a table in the middle of the eastern part of the altar of the Cathedral, and remained there till the end of the liturgy. Right after the liturgy, Pope Kyrillos went down carrying the box along with the Emperor, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch and the heads of the churches in a magnificent procession. They went to the sanctuary that was prepared for St. Mark under the main altar of the Cathedral. Pope Kyrillos placed the box inside the marbled altar, which was covered by a large marble slab and on it was the altar table.
The different choral groups then sang, successively in different languages, songs and hymns that befit the occasion in salutation for St. Mark. They sang in Coptic, Ethiopian, Syrian, Armenian, Greek, Latin, and in Arabic. The day was a joyous day and one of the most blessed days in the history of the church of Alexandria.
May the blessings of St. Mark be with us all. Amen.
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