Thousands of mourners have attended the funeral of Egypt’s Coptic Christian Pope Shenouda III who died on Saturday aged 88.
Many wept openly during the ceremony at St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo. Bishop Bakhomious led the service and will now also lead the eight million Egyptian Copts until a new pope is elected – a procedure that could take two months.
The funeral congregation included a delegation from the Vatican and several candidates for Egypt’s upcoming presidential election.
Enthroned in 1971, Pope Shenouda’s efforts to promote religious harmony earned him wide respect, even within the Muslim majority.
But his job had become increasingly difficult, especially following the New Year’s Day bombing of a church in Alexandria in which 23 people were killed.
Pope Shenouda was due to be buried at the St Bishoy Monastery, northwest of Cairo, according to his wishes. He was banished to the monastery by then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat for several years in the 80s after criticising the government.