Cairo (Agenzia Fides) - Orthodox Copts around the world are preparing to live the time of penance known as "fasting of the Holy Virgin Mary", praying with special intentions for Patriarch Tawadros II. The time of prayer and fasting lasts 15 days, starting on August 7 and ending on August 22, when the Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In his last sermon in Cairo, during the traditional weekly catechesis on Wednesday, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II suggested that everyone take advantage of the time of fasting and prayer in August to entrust themselves to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, to whom he has defined as "treasure of all virtues".
In the Coptic tradition, fasting consists of excluding wine (and alcohol), oil and animal proteins (meat, fish, eggs, butter, dairy products) and consuming only bread, pasta, rice, olives, vegetables (cooked or raw) and fresh or dried fruit. Coptic Christians can potentially observe longer fasting times than in other Christian communities. In a year, the days on which fasting is prescribed or recommended are 210. Furthermore, during fasting periods no food should be eaten from sunrise to sunset. These strict fasting rules are usually moderated in ordinary pastoral practice. The fasting time most intensively observed by Coptic Christians is the "Great Fast" of Lent that precedes Easter. Other fasting times, in addition to the that of the Blessed Virgin Mary, are those observed in Advent and the so-called "Nineveh Fast", which precedes the Lenten fast by 3 weeks and is based on the fast required by the prophet Jonah of the inhabitants of that corrupt city. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 4/8/2022)