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Pope Tawadros presides over funeral service and burial of Anba Epiphanius

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August 1, 2018, 2:43 am
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Pope Tawadros presides over funeral service and burial of Anba Epiphanius

Pope Tawadros II today presided over the funeral service for Anba Epiphanius, the late Abbot of the Monastery of St Macarius the Great in Wadi al-Natroun in Egypt’s Western Desert, who passed away two days ago at age 64.
Anba Epiphanius was murdered during the dawn hours of Sunday 29 July, hit on his head from behind by a sharp heavy object, by an unknown assailant or assailants. He had just left his cell and was heading to the church for the Matins Praise that precedes Sunday Mass. The Church notified the authorities concerned of the murder; a post mortem investigation was conducted on the Abbot’s body, and investigations are ongoing but no outcome has yet been announced.
The funeral service was held at noon today at the 4th-century monastery church of St Macarius. Pope Tawadros presided over the service which was not open to the public to attend, since the monastery has been closed until the investigations into Anba Epiphanius’s murder are over. The attendees included bishops, priests, St Macarius’s monk assembly, members of the Coptic Orthodox Melli (Community) Council and the Coptic Religious Endowments Authority, and the late Abbot’s family.
The Pope was visibly grieved by the occasion. The service began with the traditional Thanksgiving Prayer and moved on to the Bible readings and the supplications said for the souls of those who have passed away.
Pope Tawadros’s sermon focused on his beloved Anba Epiphanius who he described as a “light that shone for all of us”. The Pope said that, “despite the excruciating pain we feel for losing him, we bid him farewell on the hope of the Resurrection.
“Our faith is firm in the Pantocrator who controls life up to the minutest detail, and until we depart from it. We believe He is the maker of all good; He grants His bountiful gifts to the righteous and the evil , and lets His sun shine on the just and unjust. He loves not sin, but He loves sinners and gives them the chance to repent and atone for their sins.”
The Pope mourned in Anba Epiphanius a loving, gentle, joyful monk whose life was steeped in meekness and humbleness; also a scholar who possessed a wealth of knowledge that fruited research and publications in various branches of ecclesiastical studies.
“Anba Epiphanius,” Pope Tawadros said, “represented the Church in countless conferences and symposia. He was the pride of the Church for his profound knowledge.”
The Pope said that the late Abbot’s love and knowledge endowed him with great wisdom; “I consulted him on many matters,” he said, “and invariably found his views invaluable.
“Anba Epiphanius [born 1954] took orders St St Macarius’s when he was 30; he became Abbot 30 years later, in 2013. His leadership of the monastery lasted a mere five years, but they will forever be ingrained in the monastic tradition.
“He led a very simple life of no worldly possessions—his choice of cell, clothes and food testify to that—yet his quietude and sweet smile revealed the depth of peace that engulfed him. He always prayed for peace for all souls, for the monks, the Church, Egypt and the whole world.”
Pope Tawadros concluded his word with an outpouring of emotion: “Anba Epiphanius was a light in our holy assembly. Blessed is his name which will live on and on. Blessed is this monastery which gave us this rare man; blessed is the family which produced this prelate who gave light to the universe.
“I testify before you here that he was a unique, calm, peaceful monk. We lose much if we do not follow in his footsteps. Wherever he set foot, he brought with him peace and grace.
“He is now in Heaven, in presence of the Lord, His angels, and His saints. He intercedes on our behalf, praying for us and for the Church.
“Despite the pain, we lift our eyes up towards Heaven which grants us comfort and tender mercies.”
Once the service ended, the coffin of Anba Epiphanius was taken in a monk procession preceded by the cross held high, to be buried in the monastery’s “Tafous”, the burial place of the monks. The Pope insisted on leading the procession, and said the final prayer before the coffin was placed in the slot allotted to it. For a final blessing, he stretched out his hand and touched the coffin of his beloved Anba Epiphanius.
Watani International
31 July 2018
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