Legendary actor Maged El Kedwany is set to play the role of Egypt’s late Pope Shenouda III in the awaited series “Baba Al Arab” (The Pope of the Arabs). The series will depict the life stages of the pope including childhood, adulthood, and monasticism in more than 34 episodes, according to an announcement made by bishop Anba Bishoy on Friday, October 25.
The series will be the first production by Wadi El Natroun’s Monastery of Saint Bishoy. The church’s historiographer Nashaat Zakllama collected the biographical data for the series, and the show was scripted by writer Atalloah Tawfik.
The project’s massive budget is estimated at LE50-80 million. Anba Bishoy said that the production will be funded by donations collected from Coptic migrants across the world, adding that the church opened bank accounts to receive the money.
Moreover, Anba Bishoy stated that the Church received the approval for the project from Egypt’s Ministry of Culture and the Central Authority for the Censorship of Artistic Works. The church vowed that the anticipated series will be screened on national TV and not only on the Christian channels.
Previously known as Nazeer Gayed, the pope preferred the isolation of monastic life in the Egyptian desert and chose in 1954 to follow the example of other monastic figures such as St. Anthony the Great. Gayed locked himself away from social distractions for six years in a cave, delving into the world of the monks. He was then called on by Pope Cyril VI, who chose him to be Bishop of Christian Education and President of the Coptic Orthodox Theological Seminary.
Pope Shenouda was then appointed as the 117th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark in 1971. His weekly meetings were held at the Cathedral of St. Mark in Cairo and attended by nearly seven thousands worshipers, according to the Coptic Church website. He passed away in 2012.
The insightful theologian was known for his appreciation for youth presence in the church. He said, “A church without youth is a church without a future.”
The remarkable preacher was also the editor-in-chief of El-Keraza Magazine, the official publication of the Coptic Orthodox Church, starting in 1962. He also delivered dozens of lectures in many seminaries located in Cairo, Alexandria, and abroad as the Dean of the Theological Seminary.
Shenouda also funded numerous mission churches in various parts of the world such as the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas, Bermuda, and St. Kitts, among others.
Anba Morcos, Bishop of Shubra El Kheima, said during his phone interview on Ten Channel on “Sabah El Ward” (Rosy Morning) morning show that the series’ crew is working hard to finish shooting as soon as possible. He affirmed that the script is ready and all the actors have been selected.
Shooting will take place in the locations where Pope Shenouda lived various stages of his life, such as his home in Upper Egypt and the other one in Cairo’s Shubra district. The series is set to premiere next year in 2020.