Thousands of Copts from across the nation flocked to the city of Cairo on Friday to participate in the funeral prayer of the late hegumen Samaan Ibrahim Musa, the shepherd and founder of the St. Simon Monastery in Mokattam, and one of the most famous Christian clerics inside Egypt and abroad.
Hundreds of Muslims from the region who loved the late father also participated in his funeral.
The mass began in the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary and Saint Simon, with the coffin carrying the body of the late father placed on top of the choir, the front area of the church where prayers are held and the priests and deacons stand.
Instead of the standard black associated with funerals, most of the women and younger girls wore white.
Attendee Magda Hanna explained, “Our father Samaan went to the heavens of glory with his good deeds. Despite our deep sadness at his loss, we are certain that we must wear the white dress for whoever goes to heaven, because his soul today is in a state of joy.”
In tears, she continued, “Our father Samaan always said, ‘Whoever goes to heaven and leaves misery, we will rejoice for him and wear white for him. Don’t wear the clothes of mourning.’”
Streets were filled with flowers around the coffin, while prayers were led by dozens of priests who came from multiple archbishoprics throughout Egypt.
The monastery held the funeral prayer on Friday, the weekend in Egypt, to provide the opportunity for thousands of mourners to bid their farewells.
A holy life
The late hegumen died at the age of 82, of which he spent more than 45 years in the priesthood.
His ordination was on January 15, 1978, as a priest by the late Pope Shenouda III.
He was one of the most prominent volunteers who served the areas of the Manshiyet Nasser neighborhood, and the areas where garbage collectors lived more than fifty years ago, before being ordinated as a priest.
Musa contributed to the development of these areas through his services educationally, socially and health-wise.
The monastery’s priests set the date for holding the funeral mass on Friday morning for four hours, from 10 am to two pm during which mourners bid farewell to him.
The mass will be followed by funeral prayers in the presence of a large number of clergymen from the Egyptian Coptic Church, and Musa will be be buried at around 3:30 pm in the St. Simon Monastery that he founded and where he served for 50 years.
The St. Simon Monastery is located on top of the Mokattam hill. It consists of an Egyptian Coptic church dug inside Mokattam hill rocks in Cairo.
The stages of its construction and development began under the late father from 1974, when he was a lay servant before his ordination.
The St. Simon Monastery is the largest church in Egypt and the east built in the form of an amphitheater carved into the rock.
It accommodates 20,000 people and has 76 murals carved into rock.