(The Eighteenth Day of the Blessed Month of Baounah)
I. The Inauguration of the New St. Mark Cathedral in the Monastery of Anba Rowais:
On this day, of the year 1684 A.M., that coincided with Tuesday the 25th of June, 1968 A.D., and in the tenth year of the papacy of Pope Kyrillos the Sixth, 116th Pope of Alexandria, the holy church celebrates the inauguration of the new St. Mark Cathedral in Dair El-Anba Rowais, which was known also as Dair El-Khandaq.
For this occasion and for the return of the relics of St. Mark the Apostle from Rome, after being in the city of Venice in Italy for eleven centuries, i.e. since the ninth century, a great religious celebration was organized. The celebration was headed by H.H. Pope Kyrillos the Sixth and was attended by President Gamal Abdel Naser, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Emperor Haile Selassie the First, Emperor of Ethiopia, and many of the heads of different religions and representatives of churches from all around the world. Among those religious leaders was Mari Ignatius Yacoub the Third, the Antiochian Patriarch for the Syrian Orthodox.
Many momentous speeches, were delivered in different languages for this occasion. The speakers were, Pope Kyrillos the Sixth, the Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox, Cardinal Doval, the head of the Roman Papal delegation, the Catholicos Patriarch of Ethiopia, the secretary general of the World Council of Churches, and the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. They all expressed their joy on this happy and blessed day, saluting the church of Alexandria, which had a glorious history, with salutation of appreciation and respect.
At the end of the speeches the Pope along with the President of Egypt and the Emperor of Ethiopia went to the entrance of the new Cathedral. They unveiled the curtains from the commemorative plaque that was prepared to perpetuate this historical day. This celebration was attended by the journalists, the international news agencies' reporters, radio, television and more than six thousand Egyptians and foreigners.
May the blessings of St. Mark be with us all. Amen.
II. The Departure of St. Damianos, 35th Pope of Alexandria:
On this day also, of the year 321 A.M. (June 25th, 605 A.D.) St. Damianos, 35th Pope of Alexandria, departed. He became a monk in his early years in the desert of Scete. He continued to fight and to devote himself to God for sixteen years. He was ordained a deacon in the monastery of St. John the Short. Then he went to the monastery of the fathers which is to the west of Alexandria, and there he increased his asceticism.
When Pope Peter (34) was enthroned on the See of St. Mark, he brought and appointed Damianos a private secretary. Damianos pursued a good course of life and everyone loved him. When Pope Peter departed, the bishop unanimously agreed to ordain him a patriarch. He was enthroned a patriarch on the second of Abib 285 A.M. (June 26th, 569 A.D.). He cared for his flock well and he wrote many epistles and discourses.
In the wilderness of Scete, there were some followers of Melitius El-Assyuty, who drank wine a few times during the night before they intended to partake of the Holy Communion. They claimed that the Lord Christ gave to His disciples two cups: the first He did not say, "This is My Blood" but when he gave them the second cup he said, "This is My Blood." St. Damianos showed them their error. He clarified to them that the first cup was the cup of the Jewish passover, and He nullified it with the second cup. He also told them that the canons of the church ban those that eat before communion from partaking of the Holy Eucharist. Some of them turned from their evil, but those that did not turn from their evil council were driven out of the wilderness.
When Anba Theophanius, the Antiochian Patriarch departed, they ordained a successor to him called Peter, who sent a letter to Pope Damianos which said, "There is no need for us to say that God is the three Persons." When Pope Damianos read this letter he became enkindled with zeal. He wrote him a letter which explained that God is, in no doubt, one in His Godhead, one in essence, but He is Three persons, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, One God. He wrote to him many testimonies from the Holy Scriptures and from the sayings of the holy fathers. Nevertheless, Peter refused to return to the truth, and insisted on his error. Pope Damianos ordered that his name not be mentioned in the Divine Liturgy for twenty years until the heretic died.
Pope Damianos remained for thirty five years, eleven month, and sixteen days, teaching and preaching to his flock. He departed at a good old age.
May his prayers be with us and Glory be to God forever. Amen.