Luxor (Agenzia Fides) – A moltitude of Coptic pilgrims crowded the San Giorgio Sanctuary in Rizeigat, in the southwestern province of Luxor for days, in one of the most impressive celebrations of Christian popular devotion recorded annually in the Arab Countries. Celebrations at the Sanctuary took place throughout the last week, from 11 to 17 November, attracting tens of thousands of devotees from all Egyptian provinces. Processions, liturgies, chants, fraternal agapi marked in particular the last two days. The pilgrims were accommodated in thousands of tents encamped in the reception area set up on 60 acres around the Sanctuary. In moments of coexistence, local and national politicians, Imams sent as representation of the Egyptian Ministry for Religious Facilities (Awqaf) also participated.
The popular demonstration of devotion to Saint George confirms that Coptic Christians do not give up the joy of confessing and witnessing their faith in public gatherings. During the spring and summer, after the massacres committed by jihadist groups, Egyptian Copts had been urged by security forces to diminish pilgrimages and celebrations in churches and monasteries - traditionally concentrated in the summer months - avoiding crowd gatherings at places of worship and prayer. The suggestion (see Fides 6/2017) had been expressed personally by Interior Minister Magdi Abdel Ghaffar during a meeting on Thursday, June 8, with top security officials in Egyptian provinces where the risks of terrorist acts are higher against the civilian population and the military and police forces. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 17/11/2017)