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Naming of the Churches

Most first churches purchased or built by Coptic immigrants around the world are named after St. Mark in recognition of him as the Founder and first Bishop of the Church of Alexandria. This is usually followed by St. Mary, St. George, and Archangel Michael.

When H.G. Bishop Serapion arrived in California, there were fifteen registered Churches. He studied the map of Southern California, inquired about where concentrations of Copts existed, as well as future job market and housing based on official prediction and planning in various areas. His objectives and ideas for new churches are based on the following considerations.

  • There should be a church no further than a half hour drive for most Coptic families except in remote areas or where there are very few Coptic families.
  • Many small churches are preferable over few and large churches as a smaller congregation would receive more personal, individual attention from the priests.
  • Naming more churches after women Saints as a reflection that women are equal to men in sainthood. Also, churches named after women have been underrepresented (except for St. Mary) in the Coptic Church. Thus, the names of St. Demiana, St. Justina, St. Marina, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Mary of Egypt, received special recognition.
  • Because of his service in Switzerland in the early 1980’s, he has a special affinity to St. Maurice and St. Verena, after whom several new churches are named in various combinations.
  • Names of saints that are not commonly used in Egypt but are important in the history and faith of the Coptic Church such as St. Cyril, St. Athanasius, St. John the Baptist, St. George El-Mezahem and St. Thomas the Hermit.

Posted by Fr. Moses Samaan

July 23, 2012