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Coptic Orthodox Church in Asia

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The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria has many churches and congregations in the continent of Asia.

All of the Coptic Orthodox Eparchies in the peninsula of Sinai are in Asia.

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  • ✪ Icons of the Coptic Church
  • ✪ Eastern Christianity Part 2 - The Oriental Orthodox
  • ✪ Mixed Marriage In The Coptic Church


>> From the Library of Congress in Washington DC. >>Joan Weeks: good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of my colleagues, and in particular, Dr. Mary-Jane Deeb, who's Chief of the African and Middle Eastern Division, I'd like to extend a very warm welcome to everyone. I'm Joan Weeks, head of the Near-East Section, the sponsor of today's program, and we're very pleased to present this program on the Icons of the Coptic Church, but before we start today's program and introduce our speaker, I'd like to give you a brief overview of the division and its resources in the hopes that you'll come back and do research in our reading room. This is a custodial division, which is comprised of three sections that build and serve the collections to researchers from around the world. We cover over 78 countries and more than two dozen languages. We have the African section, which includes all the countries of sub- Sahara Africa, Hebraic section, which is responsible for Judaica and Hebraic worldwide, and the Near-East section, which covers all of the Arab countries, including North Africa, Turkey, Turkic Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, and the Muslims in western China, Russia, the Balkans, and the people of the Caucuses, a very extensive reason. Now little bit about just logistics here. After the program, we'd like to invite you to a fill in our survey that we placed in your seats. This you can leave in your seats, or at the information desk at the front as you leave, and I'd also like to invite you to try out our new Four Corners blog, where we have curators and specialists who give very special insight on parts of the collections, and also, we have a Facebook page for our area studies collection. So both of these are a very exciting venture for us, and we left flyers about this, and you can learn about other programs by visiting our Facebook page. Also, we like to videotape these presentations. So researchers and others around the world can see them. And so, in that regard, if you would like to ask questions at the end, you're just saying and reminding you that you are being filmed, and you're implicitly giving your permission to be filmed. So now I'd like to call upon my colleague, Dr. Fawzi Tadros, our Arab World Specialist, to introduce our speaker. Thank you. >> Fawzi Tadros: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce to you Mrs. Evelyn Rophael. Throughout the years, Ms. Evelyn Rophael has been an active participant in the Coptic Church. She has come to love and admire the determination to survive, to keep its Christian identity against overwhelming odds, to maintain its ancient traditions and to honor and venerate its heroic sense. Mrs. Rophael has painted numerous icons, girls in the altar area of many Coptic churches in the USA, Canada, and Egypt. She has assisted in the establishment of the Coptic Chapel at St. Vladimir Orthodox Seminary by preparing and restoring all the painting and painted new ones. She has illustrated 15 books on Coptic Saints and several other children's books concerning Coptic sacraments. Among her impressive publications, a book on one of the major monasteries in Egypt. She has painted an estimated 600 icons over the years. She has also presented lectures concerning the Coptic Church at the US government agency that were broadcast to government offices around the world. Among her icons, one was used to illustrate a Swedish book about the Coptic Church and in various international publications. Ms. Evelyn lives with her Egyptian husband near the West River, Maryland, enjoys almost anything involving art, history, and science. Please join me to welcome Miss Evelyn. [ Applause ] >>Evelyn Rophael: it's really such a great honor and privilege and blessing to be here today, and thank you all for coming. In addition to what Dr. Fawzi Todros said about me, I'd like to introduce myself a little more. I'm and iconographer for the Coptic Church, which is the Orthodox Church of Egypt, and before I went to Egypt the first time, I really wasn't aware of the Christian presence in Egypt. I rented a National Geographic, something about monks living in the desert, and that's all I knew. So when I went to Egypt, I was there to see the ancient monuments, and part of my tour of Egypt, I was on a Nile cruise ship, and I spoke with the captain of the cruise ship, and he mentioned that he was a Coptic Christian. So he was the first Coptic Christian I had spoken with. So I married him. So anyway, I began doing icons for the Coptic Church, and I'm going to take you through a couple thousand years of history of Coptic icons, and then I'm going to talk about the icons that I do, the process behind doing an icon, and so, get your seatbelts buckled. We're in for a 2000-year trip. Coptic art is a continuation of the ancient art of the pharaohs that has always been a very unique art, always identifiable as that's Egypt. And when I was talking to some monks about the presentation today, I asked, what do you think I should mention? And they each said, you need to mention it's a continuation of Egyptian art. It's not something separate. It's a continuation that art has always been unique to Egypt, and even though it's a different style involved, and it's a different faith involved, it's a continuation of Egyptian art, and on the screen you see kind of that very quick continuation. The pharaonic art, and then you see a blending of pharaonic and Roman, and then an early Coptic icon. Ancient Egyptian art influenced Coptic art. You can see that in so many of the details of ancient and Coptic art, like the pharaonic picture below where the god Anubis and Tahuke are recording the deeds of the soul. They're using a scale to weigh the soul, and in the Coptic images of the Archangel Michael, you frequently see that he's holding a scale, and in ancient Egypt, the soul of the deceased person is shown by little winged creature. That was called the Ba. In Coptic art, well in any of the Christian art, you see the winged Holy Spirit, and then the Egyptian ankh, which was considered a symbol of eternal life in ancient Egypt, that was an early Coptic cross, and even today, you see some reference to it as being the Coptic cross, an early Coptic cross. Ancient Egyptians were used to seeing the image of an infant god, and many scholars feel that this was preparation that helped them except the new faith of Christianity when it came to Egypt. It was brought by St. Mark within a few decades of the crucifixion of Christ and over the next couple centuries, Christianity spread very quickly throughout Egypt, and for several centuries, it was a Christian nation. Among some of the best-known art of this period of Egypt is the Fayoum mummy portraits, which were dated from about 50 BC to about 350 A.D. incredibly realistic images that were done basically with hot wax, and there's a lot of division on who painted them and for what purpose. Some say that it is Roman art. Yes, you see the, encaustic paintings like this throughout the Roman Empire. Other say that, well, it was Egyptian art that may be the Romans copied. Some say it's Roman people who are the subject of this art, because it was a Roman area at the time. But I look at these pictures of these people in these very realistic portraits, I see the faces of Egyptians I know. So I really feel these were Egyptian people. I don't think they were religious Christian images because, you know, women are wearing nice jewelry and everything. But look at the eyes. The eyes are very prominent. They're in large, and that became a hallmark of Coptic art, large, expressive eyes. Between Fayoum and a few centuries later, there were other encaustic, again the wax, the hot wax that was used to make portraits. My different populations in Egypt. There was a Greek population and Syrian, and there's one like that, and because of this network of different populations, it's hard to follow an exact line, straight line, because again, they didn't document everything that so-and-so painted this, and he was from such and such nation, but if you look at this encaustic icon of St. Peter, from the seventh century, you can see a connection to the Fayoum mummy portraits that were several centuries earlier, but to me, if you look at these three small images on top of St. Peter, the one of St. Mary and the one of the young man on the left, to me they are Coptic. Now look at the eyes. The eyes are very large, very expressive. These are Coptic. We see images that echo some of the main features of the Fayoum portraits but a different style is evolving. Here we see more of the Coptic look. The one on the right is from the Codex Washingtonian, which is an early Bible. Some say this is from the fourth century. Others say this is more from the first or second century. Notice a large eyes. They are expressive, and the long nose. In the Coptic art it's with a thought that the large eyes are looking to God. The nose is long and thin. The mouth is small, because we are not talking. We're listening to God. Below we see from ancient monasteries the same large eyes. The proportions of the body are not realistic. It's with the thought that it's not the body that counts. It's the spirit, and so when you look at Coptic icons, again, it's not the proportion of the body. Realism is not attempted. And monastic art, you find that the icons have a or drab appearance. They're not as colorful. Obviously, the monks are not looking for beauty. They're looking for a statement in the icons. The small flask on the right is an ancient flask. They're about this big from an ancient monastery of St. Menas. And notice, there's an image of the Saint. He's noticed to have his hands out with a couple camels behind him, and these flasks are found as far away as Ireland, in ancient archaeological digs in Ireland. And it's not known whether pilgrims made it to Egypt and brought these flasks back to them, or that monks traveled that far out. There were many nationalities in ancient Egypt, even in the monasteries. This is from the Syrian monastery, which was owned and operated by Syrian monks in Egypt, and this is an interesting portrait of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Notes they're holding little tiny figures in their arms. These are representations of the souls of the deceased. This representation of like a heaven and an upper level of heaven is from an ancient monastery. Below we see St. Mary in the infant Jesus, and they have different saints with them. But above, Jesus is in a circle, and he has these like flames coming out from the sides. He surrounded by angels. And this is the first icon that is showing Jesus as the King of all things, and that he's above everything. And speaking of above, we have three representations of Jesus here the one on the right, the upper right, is from St. Catherine's monastery, which is in Egypt. It's been owned and operated by the Greek orthodox for many centuries, but they have icons there and manuscripts from all nations, and this one was done in about the sixth century. It's considered the first standard icon of Jesus that we know still today of that image, and we don't know whether it was done by Greek or whoever there in the sixth century, but if you look over at the large one beside it, you see the same face. And this larger one, this is from an icon or a dome in an ancient church in upper Egypt. Look at the Angels. They're beautiful, and Jesus is holding his hand in blessing, and he's holding a gospel. To me, this is a beautiful piece of work. On the other side is a modern dome of a church in Egypt. It's a cathedral in St. Mina Monastery. It's European, a little bit of the Byzantine influence, but basically, it's European art. This is one of my main concerns about the Coptic Church. Instead of just really utilizing their beautiful, ancient heritage of Coptic art, you see a lot of them turning to European art, and I think they shouldn't -- you know, okay, if you want European art in your home, that's fine. In the Coptic Church, it should be Coptic art. You go to a Greek church, it's Greek art. You go to a Russian church, it's Russian art, and I just really, really hope that the Coptic church gets back into any new church, any new cathedral, Coptic art, because it's worth keeping. These are a couple more images of both the ancient Coptic art. This one on the left is from St. Anthony Monastery. It's considered the oldest, continuously habited monastery. It's on the Red Sea. And this is a modern translation of the same design, the Pantocrator. In the mid-1700s, this was during like the Ottoman Empire, and somehow, and Armenian name Johannes came to Egypt, and he did hundreds and hundreds of icons throughout Egypt. They're in churches and monasteries, and they're beautiful, and they have their own unique style, and just, the last time I was in Egypt, I was taken to a church that had -- it started in the fourth century, and it had several different chapels. Each chapel came from different centuries, but they had this incredible collection of icons by Johan the Armenian. Coptic iconography was redefined during the mid-1960s by two people -- well, three if you count the couple, Badour Latif and her husband Yussef Nessif, and Dr. Issac Fanous, and in the main cathedral in Cairo the Badour Latif, her icons are in the main level at the icon stand, and Issac Fanous's icons are in a different level. So both of them are very highly esteemed, and a few years ago, I had the really great honor of meeting Badour Latif at her home, and you can see that she's working on an icon here of St. Mark. She died about four years ago, but it was really a great honor. I considered her that someone who taught me, even though I never met her before that point, even with the modern Coptic art, which you see on the right, you still see the influence from the past. This ancient hymnbook from 1743 showing Moses and the burning bush, Isaac Fanous did this icon of the burning bush, and he put St. Mary, represented and it, showing that just as the flames did not consume the burning bush, which was God, that St. Mary was not consumed by having God within her. So here we have some nativity scenes. The one of the top left is by Badour Latif. What I always liked about her art was she has flowers and it. She has animals that it, and just very natural, and I always like that. I kind of reflect that in my icons. Beside hers is a nativity by Isaac Fanous. His are very beautiful. His or more geometric, and I like the placement of his figures, and so I always try to just kind of pick out what I like best from the two styles and use that. Below is one by Johan the Armenian, and his is more of a Byzantine theme, and then the one I did. So now we have, you know, up into the twentieth century, and now we're going to talk about some of my icons. First of all, something about the creative process. I found this on the Internet, and yes, whatever span of time, let's say I agree a I'm going to have an icon done by the end of the month or within one month time. Okay, work begins. My husband, Wafik, will cut the wood and prepare it, and everything's ready to go. Okay, yes, I'll do it. It'll be ready by the end of the month. The next 25 days, I'm goofing off. And then a couple days, I like, yeah, I've really got to get started, and all the work while crying -- and I'm not crying, I'm just kind of kicking myself that, you know, I really should've started this earlier, and the last two days is like hurry, hurry, hurry. So yes, the creative process. So when I get an assignment for an icon, I first draw out a very rough painting or drawing. I don't really like to do a detailed sketch. I just -- I don't. It's a rough drawing, and I work out placement and everything like that and what I want written on it, and I have a few monks who are kind enough to look over my Coptic and make sure spelling is correct, make suggestions about the icon design itself, and then I start painting. I use acrylic, because it's a paint that works quickly, and it dries quickly. In most iconography, you find people say that they use the Tempera paint, which is with egg white and pigments and sort of like that, but that takes longer to work with, and monks and bishops have told me, just get the job done. So okay. The Coptic art of today, it's accepted that the figures have round heads, and again, the large eyes. And it's a simple -- it's not trying for realism. It's a style. It's a simple style, and one thing about Coptic art which I really, really enjoy is that the figures look peaceful, and it's with the thought that whatever they have suffered, even if it's a martyr, whatever they have suffered, the suffering is over. They're in heaven, and they're at peace. So that's one way to always, you know, recognize a Coptic icon. The subject is at peace. I recently did a sign for our church, and again, you can see the process involved, just a crude sketch. And I sent it to one of my monk friends what I wanted to put on the sketch, and he nicely wrote it out for me, and whatever the languages, I always dread doing lettering, a lot of lettering, because surely, I'm going to make a mistake somewhere, and it's like, oh, I left out such and such letter, and I have to find a way to fix it. By the way, one of my main rules of art is that if you make a mistake, and you can't paint over it, make it part of the design. So that's happened many times. This is an icon of St. George. You can see where I roughed in the shadows, and then the finished painting, and with any icon, there's going to be several layers of paint involved. Usually with an icon, it's -- you start out with the dark colors and you apply the lighter colors, showing the progress of the soul from darkness to the light, and it's nice that acrylic works out that way, that you start with the dark, and then with gold leaf, putting that on. It's a process that depending on the icon involved, depending on my -- do I really want to paint today, which is terrible, I've done some icons within one day. I've done some icons that just seem to drag on forever. So there's no real how long does it take to do an icon? A few years ago, I did altar of a church, and I worked with the monk. And he drew out the design that he wanted, or he told me the design, and so you can see in the middle picture to the right, the basic design that became the central Jesus Christ, and you can see there's elements from the past and it like the Angels overhead. That's a direct connection to the ancient image of Jesus, the image of Jesus being carried by angels, and below is Abraham, the patriarch, Abraham being given bread and wine by [inaudible]. How do you say it? Yeah, thank you. When I was doing this, looking at this picture reminds me, one of my concerns was the monk wanted a rainbow. This particular altar area had several angles involved, and trying to figure a rainbow that was going to be even was -- I was measuring here and then the measure here, go up 2 inches. Measure here, go up 2 inches. So this monk said, "No-no-no." So he found a piece of chalk, and he taped it to a broomstick, and he stood, and he drew a rainbow. And it was like, wow. Why didn't I think of that? And when I was working on the image of the face of Jesus being held by the two angels, I was on a ladder, but it was in front of the steps to like where I'm standing now, and it was difficult to reach. The ladder was at a difficult angle, and I'm trying to reach it, and the monk was saying, "But, you know, you've got one ear a little bit lower than the other. Can you fix that?" So I was trying to get it. Again, it was a difficult angle. So he said, "Do you mind if I try, because I'm taller?" So he climbed up the ladder, and he was getting it correct, and the young man from the church came in. So he looks at me, and he looks up at the monk at the ladder painting, and he looks back at me like, so the monk is doing the work. What are you doing here? And this seraphim, really, this is one of my favorite things I've ever painted. I love doing angels, and so this is just one of the favorite things that I've done. This is kind of a, again, different styles of the entry into Jerusalem. The one on the left is eighteenth-century. It's from upper Egypt. It's a more simple style, but I really love this because first of all, the dark blue, but if you look carefully, you see the palm leaves in the background that are being used, you know, to welcome Jesus. And you see the others throwing cloths at the feet of Jesus, and in this one -- the upper one done by Fanous, again, you see the palm leaves, and you see the people throwing cloths at the feet of Jesus. The bottom one is one I did. And what I did with the entry into Jerusalem, and the disciples are all wearing the same uniform. They're wearing white with red, just so we all know they're disciples, and all of them except one has a happy expression. One of them, if you look carefully, is kind of glowering, and we all know who he is, and all of them are holding a palm leaf except for one, and also, what I do and almost every entry into Jerusalem, and you see that in the little insert to the left. I like to put myself and my husband, Wafik, into the picture that we're watching entry into Jerusalem, but we're copticized. The closest thing about this one is that she has the long, light brown hair, but at least we're there watching the entry into Jerusalem. This is another one that I did a couple of years ago. It's one of my favorites, and it's the baby Moses being taken from the Nile River, and I was asked to do this by a Jewish man, and so it was fun doing the ancient temple and Miriam hiding in the papyrus. Actually, it's on my list of things to do, that someone wants a large painting of this, and just more temples and and so I'm like that. So I'm looking forward to starting that. Go through my creative process again. Noah's Ark. Basically, this is kind of a standard, Coptic Noah's Ark. As an animal lover, it was great fun for me to do. If you look closely near the boat, you see a pair of dogs, and I have them sitting down, looking up, waiting for their human friends to come off the boat, and then over to the left, there's two cats, and they're looking at the pair of mice that just came off the boat, and they're thinking, should we eat them now or wait until there's more mice? So a monk said to me on this one, but really, next time, you need to keep with the clean animals. And I'm, yeah, sure. The icon of the Virgin Mary, I've gotten into the habit, I like to put for stalks of papyrus and an icon of Jesus or the Virgin Mary, because not only is it a symbol of Egypt, the earliest known Bible fragments that exist were on papyrus and found in Egypt, and then with the Virgin Mary, I like to have lotus, just a nice flower to remind her of her time in Egypt. Some exceptions to Coptic art that I do, like if it's a saint who has died recently, I mean within the past 50 years, where there's photographs of him, yes, I will do a more realistic face. The one at the bottom is from a monastery in upper Egypt, and this is a very unsophisticated painting, but I love this icon of this saint. It might be unsophisticated, but you can see the painter put his heart into it, and so I've made copies of that icon before, and when I was asked to do an icon of this saint for a church, I did a more realistic looking, so he could look proper next to Jesus, but the monk holding the picture down below, he's holding the original icon. So I could the original icon in, and a more realistic-looking picture of this thing, and these are just some of my favorite icons. I love doing angels. Doing the archangels was great fun. I call this the family portrait of archangels. The one of Jesus rescuing the lamb. Again, as an animal lover, to me, this was great fun on several levels. Notice that the lamb, he's caught in thorns, and he's crying. He's so sad, and he feels lost, and Jesus is coming to rescue him and comforting him and saving him. And any excuse to do a pretty night sky, I always enjoy doing that. Whether it's the prayer Desimone or Jesus walking on water. And the flight into Egypt, you can see elements from the ancient flight into Egypt. So if it's a large icon, I often lay it flat to work on. Some of it has to be done standing up. I can't do a face when it's laying flat. It has to stand up. And you can see two of my helpers. One of them below is holding the paintbrush, and the other one is keeping the feet of Jesus warm. These two icons were going to a church in Pennsylvania. I thought I was finished with them the night before. We were going to transport them. And then I tore the gold leaf under the inscription, the Coptic inscription. I tore the gold leaf. I tried to repair it. It looked like it had been repaired. I tried a different way. It looked like it had been repaired. So I ended up painting an Angel -- but if I paint the angel on one side, it's going to have to be on the other side. Now if it's on one icon, it's going to have to be on the other icon. So I was up until like 6 o'clock painting little angels on these icons and varnishing them. I finished that icon at six in the morning, last coat of varnish, and we got up like at seven or eight to load them up and transport them. And it's not the first time I'm letting the varnish dry as we're carrying it out to a trailer. And then I have my other helper, my husband Wafik, and what he does, he cuts the wood to size, and he prepares the word. He gives of the primary coats of white paint, then he also makes a lot of the frames. What we see here is at a show that was all the Orthodox churches, the icons from all the Orthodox churches. They asked me if I would demonstrate painting icon. I had one just about finished anyway. So I brought that, and they put me up on a stage, and as I stood there painting, a couple people walked by and said, "Oh, nice icon. Yeah, okay." So after a while, I said to my husband, well, I'm going to go get something to drink. If you want to do something, just take the paint and on each of these white dots put another white dot. It's representing the stars of heaven. So he's doing that. I go get a drink. I come back, and there's like about 30 people crowded around the stage, and they're doing like, wow, what an artist! What a beautiful icon! And you know, he's standing there. All he needed was a beret. A beret. And so that was -- so I just sat there entry I Coke and let him be the great artist. And the other one he was -- I was doing this icon that was going to be traveling to Egypt within the next couple of days, and so he gets up at 4 o'clock to go to work, and his soon as he walks into the kitchen. I've been up all night working on the icon. He comes into the kitchen. I'm, Wafik, you've got to write this in Arabic. "I just woke up." I'm, no, no. Come on. It won't take -- come on. So he was very nice to put the Arabic on that at 4 o'clock in the morning. We went to Jerusalem a couple of months ago, and we went to a monastery in Jericho that was named for the Zaccheus, who was in the tree that Jesus said to him, "Zaccheus, come down." And this small Coptic monastery, all of the icons were the Coptic style except one which was in front of the candle stand, and that was a European print of the scene of Jesus and Zaccheus. And so monk said, "I really wish I could get a Coptic icon of that." And I said, I wish I could do it to you, but I don't know how I would get it to you. So we went back to Jerusalem, and I was telling the hotel manager that, you know, if only, and he said tell me the size wood you need, and of course, it has to the high-grade plywood. Not just regular plywood high-grade plywood, and so he said, "I'll get it for you," and the desk clerk said, "I'll find you nearby art store where you can buy the paints." So within two days I did a Coptic Zaccheus, and I signed their names on the icon also that I had an assist from them. And by the way, I signed Wafik's name on all my icons, too, because really and truly, I wouldn't be doing icons without him. Not only does he cut the wood and prepare it and stuff like that, but when I'm doing my last-minute rush and just all day on painting, all night I'm painting, he's really, okay, he does so he comes home after a long day of work. He does the dinner. He does the housecleaning. Just get the icon done. Get the icon done. So he deserves a place on the icon too. Don't expect such niceness out of me on a regular basis. This is, I went to a large family conference of a church in Connecticut, and they had a bishop there that I worked with him before. And he called me just before we got there, and he said, "We need two icons of the resurrection." And I said, oh no, no one told me that. He said, "Can you do two icons by Sunday so I can consecrate them?" Okay, so in two days I did two icons of the resurrection, and this is him consecrating them, and my priest here, Father Chanute [assumed spelling], please don't get any ideas to ask me can you do to icons within two days. No. This the icon that I did of a saint who was recently made or named by our church, and this bishop had asked me to do this icon. The body of this saint is in his church. So he took the icon with him to Egypt, and you see him consecrating it. An icon is either on the walls the church or they're also used in zeffas, which is a procession around the church in honor of a saint. Like if we have relics of a saint, then on the anniversary of that saint, we take the relics around after they're anointed with holy oil, and the icons go around with them. So to me, it's really a great pleasure to contribute to the honoring of a saint. I've got to say that when working on an icon, you really do feel a certain closeness to the saint. It's really hard to describe, but you do feel, if not in actual communication, it's a closeness, and it's a really, really nice feeling. One of the things I really like about Coptic art, especially the Coptic Last Supper, is that instead of a table full of food, the table has two things on it, the wine and the bread, which will become the body and blood. The whole thing is about the communion. Leonardo da Vinci has the famous Last Supper where the table is full of food. There's up plate full of lemon slices and everything, and the message gets lost. But the Coptic art, it's basic. It's the blood in the body. The ancient icon of this to the right, it's not Coptic. It's actually Syrian, but I loved it so much I wanted to show it to you. It's looking down from the point of view of God, and it first, you see a table with maybe a leg of lamb in the middle for the Passover meal, but I read an interpretation of it. It's actually the communion cup. The whole table is the communion cup. Jesus pointing at it saying drink this. So the whole thing is a cup, and is being offered to the viewer. While we were in Israel, we saw the Mount of Temptation, which I thought was really neat, and next time I do an icon of the Temptation of Christ, that will be utilized. In this one that I did, I put, because of the Bible verse, "And he showed them the cities as if in a moment of time." I put various cities, Athens and Rome. I even put Washington DC, because this is a moment in time, and so that was a fun icon to do. Different angels from different times. Minus the one on the right. Again, you see the beauty of Coptic art. Not just the modern Coptic art, but the ancient Coptic art, and to me it's just so beautiful. I just feel that Coptic churches here, in Egypt, everywhere there's a Coptic church, they really need to embrace their heritage. So right now, well, actually there's more pieces of wood sitting there now. This is my living room. The big icon is like 8 feet across, and then there's other icons there in various stages. I have more. Wafik just keeps bringing them out saying, "Here, and this one is for so-and-so." And this is what doing icons is all about. It's putting you in touch with God. It's a window into heaven, and it's really a great honor and privilege and blessing to me that I can do this. That hopefully, I can get people to look at an icon and tell a story and make them want to be in touch with God. And that's my story of being an iconographer in the Coptic church. [ Applause ] Yes, and if anyone has any questions. Yes? >> I'm someone who can only draw stick figures, and I take my [inaudible], but I studied art history. So wonder if you could tell us is the cart before the horse of where you studied art? Was it after you got fascinated with icons? >>Evelyn Rophael: I've always done art in one form or another, yes. I've always loved icons. I only knew Greek icons, you know, until I went to Egypt, but once I went to Egypt and started looking at their icons it was just, you know, I've got to try this. I did not have a formal study except that I really threw myself into studying what is it about this icon that not only is telling the story, but what do I like about it that I can translate into what I do? Like the one icon I was pointing out that she likes to put flowers in them in animals. And I really like putting nature in there, and when I was talking to this iconographer about, oh, you know, I love the way you have the animals smiling and something like that. She said, "You know, that's just what the Pope said to me." So. [ Inaudible Speech ] >> Evelyn Rophael: No, self-taught. Self-taught, which is not always the best teacher. Anyone else? Yes. >> Thank you very much for this presentation. It's fascinating. [inaudible]. These are not standard paintings. So they're different from what a standard painting would be. [inaudible]? >> Evelyn Rophael: Well, first of all, it's technically, you're writing an icon that, you know, because of the Greek word iconography, it actually means writing a picture, and that picture, especially since you're writing it, you're telling a story. You're telling a story either of a saint or a holy scene, and so to me, you want to show the person in the icon as brave and good-looking or beautiful, because that's what their soul is. And I want that -- the viewer to look at an icon and say, yes, I'm seeing a story here. I don't want them to look at it and say, that's not pretty. So to me, it has to be attractive. It has to have symbols in it. Almost everything in the background is going to have either three symbolizing the Holy Trinity or four symbolizing the Gospels or seven, the days of creation, or 12, the apostles, and I want the person to study the icon and just look around it and see what's going on. Because that's one of the reasons icons were first done, to educate people who could not read. Most people could not read back then, and so is telling the story. It's illustrating a story, and today, in the Orthodox churches, we have a front to stand that's full of icons, the Last Supper, the apostles, Jesus, St. Mary, the Archangel, et cetera, and so that's really the main element, telling the story. Why is St. George on a horse? He's killing the Dragon. What is the Dragon? Evil, the devil. And let's say one of a monk. Well, why is he standing there holding the cane the way he's doing it? Why is he standing there -- why is he wearing something different than another monk? It's telling the story, and that's really the elements important to me for an icon. It's telling the story, and it has to look nice to hold the attention. Somebody once said to me that you try to make your icons too pretty. That's not Coptic, and by the way, several monks and bishops said don't listen to him, Evelyn. But I have seen icons that are done carelessly, and to me, you lose your story. You lose the attention. Once you lose the person viewing it, and they're thinking, wow, she looks like she has a mustache. You've lost telling the story. And maybe the story was something that was going to get the person closer to God. So it has to be attractive, and it has to tell a story. Anything else? Yes? >> How are the icons consecrated? >>Evelyn Rophael: They use holy oil, and it's a Bishop, and they use holy oil, and the ones they showed you, I did two of them in two nights. I knew what was involved, and I'd given each one of them two coats of varnish, fast-drying varnish, and as the Bishop was pouring oil on it and doing like this, I'm thinking oh, God, please don't let the varnish just be eaten up by the holy oil, and they pray over it, and they breathe upon it. And it's kind of symbolic about, you know, the Holy Spirit, and then there's usually a procession around the church of the new icon. Yes? >> And again, thank you very much. It was fascinating and [inaudible]. About the colors, are they [inaudible]. >> Evelyn Rophael: Yes, yes. >> Are those colors symbolic? >>Evelyn Rophael: Yes. White symbolizes purity. The gold, the gold leaf, symbolizes heaven. The blue symbolizes royalty, and red, of course, symbolizes blood or martyrdom usually. Someone who was martyred is going to have something red on, yes. I did an icon of the slaughter of the innocents of, you know, the Romans coming in and killing the babies and so on, like that. And rather than showing the blood on the ground, it was wherever a child was being slaughtered, there was red flowers on the ground, which it was symbolic. And, you know, the Angels are carrying the babies up words. So you still know what happened, and the red of the martyrdom was still there. Yes? >> [inaudible] Thank you so much. >> Evelyn Rophael: Thank you. >> This is been a presentation of Library of Congress. Visit us at



Two Eparchies, each led by a Bishop:

El Arish and all North Sinai

Kosman (Cosmas), Bishop of the Holy Diocese of El Arish (Rhinocorura), El Qantarah and all North Sinai.

El-Tor and all South Sinai

Apollo, Bishop of the Holy Diocese of El-Tor (Raithu), Sharm El Sheikh and all South Sinai.

Currently, there are at least five Coptic Orthodox churches in South Sinai.[1]


Abraham, Metropolitan of the Holy and Great City of Our Lord, Jerusalem, Holy Zion, Archbishop of the Holy Archdiocese of Jerusalem, All Palestine, Philadelphia of Jordan and all the Near East.

This Archdiocese has many churches in the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, and Israel.

This great archdiocesan Metropolis is technically outside the Egyptian Province and was not originally counted within the jurisdiction of the Pope of Alexandria and it was created by Pope Cyril III (1235-1243) in the Thirteenth Century, which, at that time, had caused a dispute between the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch.[2] This was a very rare incident between the two sister churches as in general their relationship is one of the strongest between any two sister churches.[3]

The Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan of Jerusalem is the only Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan who is consecrated as a Metropolitan Archbishop without being consecrated a bishop first and then elevated to the Metropolitan rank later, as is the norm in all episcopal consecration according to the tradition of the Church of Alexandria. This has been the case since Cyril III consecrated Metropolitan Basilius as the first Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan of Jerusalem and All the Near East.


The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of the 18 religious sects recognized by the Lebanese Constitution.


The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria was first established in Japan by Bishop Daniel in 2004.[1]. Bishop Daniel is the Coptic Orthodox bishop of the Diocese of Sydney and Affiliated Regions, including Asia. He appointed the first serving Coptic priest in Japan in 2004 who served St. George Coptic Orthodox church in Japan, although a church building was not established yet.

The first Coptic Orthodox holy liturgy was held in Kobe City, Japan in May 2004 by Bishop Daniel. Other areas were Coptic Orthodox holy liturgies were held were in Osaka, Kagoshima (south of Japan), Tokyo (capital city of Japan) and Tottori (western part of Japan).

On July 18th, 2016, the first Coptic Orthodox church building in Japan was officially established by the Diocese of Sydney and affiliated region, in Kizugawa city, in Kyoto prefecture (western part of Japan). It was named St. Mary & St. Mark Coptic Orthodox church. The Coptic Orthodox church in Japan is an official member of JCCC (Japan Confederation of Christian Churches). The official website of the church is

Hong Kong

South Korea

  • St. Mary; Seoul
  • St. Mary & St. Karas; Ulsan


  • St. George & St. Mina; Taipei

East Asia

This wide area comes under the Diocese of Sydney, New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory and All East Asia whose Hierarch is Daniel, Bishop of the Holy Diocese of Sydney, New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory, Thailand, Singapore and All East Asia. The following is a list of churches in East Asia under the jurisdiction of the Diocese, and also the priests that serve in each church:


  • St. Mark & St. George; Bangkok
  • St. James the Apostle Orphanage; Sangkhlaburi


  • St. Mark; Singapore


  • St. Antony & St.Paul;Guangzhou
  • St. Mark, Yiwu


  • St. Mary & St. Mark; Malacca
    • Fr Joseph Sim
  • St. Mary & Archangel Michael; Kuala Lumpur


Under Coordinator Of Fr.John Edward, Mission Start In 2014 In Jakarta.

  • St. Mary, Jakarta
  • St. Mark & Virgin Mary, East Java-Surabaya
    • Archiangel Michael & St.Moussa the Black, Malang


A Mission church in Isalambad started in 2006 under the Diocese of Melbourne, West & South Australia, New Zealand and All Oceania whose Hierarch is Suriel, Bishop of the Holy Diocese of Melbourne, Victoria (Australia), Tasmania, ACT, South Australia, Western Australia, New Zealand and All Oceania. The following is a list of churches in Pakistan which are under the Diocese, and also the priests that serve in each church:

  • St. Mark; Rawalpinidi
    • Fr Bishoy Sarfraz
  • St. Mary; Islamabad
    • Fr Anthony David John

As of July 2014, the churches in Pakistan are under the direct jurisdiction of Pope Tawadros II.

See also


  1. ^ Coptic Orthodox Diocese of South Sinai Archived 2011-07-25 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ History of the Coptic Church, Iris Habib Elmasry
  3. ^ History of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Abouna Menassa Elkomos Youhanna 1923

External links

See also

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