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Egyptian Christians Pay Respects To Patriarch, Prepare For Funeral


Pope Shenuda III, the late head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox church, at a Christmas service in 2010.
Tens of thousands of Egyptian Coptic Christians gathered at Cairo's St. Mark's Cathedral to pay final respects to their spiritual leader.

Pope Shenouda III died on March 17 at the age of 88.

An overnight vigil was followed by a Sunday morning Mass, with the patriarch’s body in the papal chair dressed in ceremonial robes.

Pope Shenuda is to be buried at the St. Bishoy monastery in Wadi Natrun in the Nile Delta.

Coptic bishops have started arriving from around the world to attend ceremonies leading up to the March 20 funeral and discuss plans to appoint a successor to Pope Shenouda, who had led the Middle East's largest Christian minority for four decades.

He leaves behind a community who has a target of frequent sectarian attacks in recent years.

Coptic Christians make up some 10 percent of Egypt's population.

With AFP, dpa, and Reuters reporting