CONSECRATION OF PATRIARCH
The consecration of a POPE of Alexandria and patriarch of the See of Saint MARK takes place on a SUNDAY in the course of the celebration of Divine Liturgy at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo. After the appointed lections from the Acts of the Apostles and the SYNAXARION have been read, the presbyters and deacons, carrying crosses, censers, and candles, leave in a procession to bring the pope-elect from the nearby papal residence. The door of the cathedral is then locked, and the key is held by an ARCHDEACON who stands there awaiting the return of the procession.
The procession starts from the papel residence toward the cathedral: first the DEACONS, then the presbyters, the BISHOPS in order of seniority, followed by the pope-elect. An archdeacon carries the Book of the Gospel in front of the senior bishop, and the following hymn is chanted in Coptic: “The Only-begotton Son, the Eternal Logos, Who for our salvation was incarnate from the THEOTOKOS, the ever-Virgin Mary, and became man, and was crucified,…”
Upon reaching the cathedral door, the archdeacon presents the key to the pope-elect, who opens the door, reciting words from the Psalms: “Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank thee that thou hast answered me and hast become my salvation” (). Here the cathedral bells ring to proclaim the arrival of the new pope.
Inside the cathedral at the sanctuary steps, all make obeisance, and the pope-elect stands between two bishops, while the senior bishop reads the second prayer to the Gospel and then hands the deed of election to an archdeacon or a priest to read it from the pulpit.
While the pope-elect kneels in front of the haykal (sanctuary), the senior bishop offers INCENSE and says the Prayer of Incense, followed by another prayer to the Almighty to pour forth the grace of high priesthood on the pope-elect.
The archdeacon says the following petitions, to each of which the deacons respond by saying KYRIE ELEISON:
Let us all say, Listen to us, O God, and have mercy upon us.
Pray for the peace of the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church and
the salvation of God’a people.
Pray for the forgiveness of our sins and deliverance from all tribulation, all uprising of enemies.
Pray to God to bless His inheritance, have mercy upon all people, give help to all Christians through the power of the life-giving Cross, to blot our transgressions through the intercession of the Theotokos, of
Saint Mark the Evangelist, and all the Saints.
We beseech Thee, Lord, send Thine Holy Spirit upon Thy servant
[name], whom Thou hast chosen to be the High Priest of Thy people.
The senior bishop invokes the Holy Spirit to fill the pope-elect with grace and wisdom to shepherd the church flock in purity and justice.
Next, the senior bishop says the prayer of investiture. This prayer is accompanied by the LAYING ON OF HANDS only when the pope-elect is a monk who has not been consecrated bishop before.
Turning his face toward the pope-elect, the senior bishop then says to him. “We pronounce thee Anba [name], Pope and Patriarch, Master and Archbishop of the See of Saint Mark, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Here the new pope is clothed with a sticharion (see LITURGICAL VESTMENTS) while the choir sings Saint Mark’s Doxology. The senior bishop hands him the deed of investiture as the choir sings, “May thou be granted the grace of Moses, the priesthood of Melchizedek, the old age of Jacob, the longevity of Methuselah, the sagacity of David, the wisdom of Solomon, and the Paraclete who descended upon the Apostles.”
Some petitions are then said by the archdeacon, each followed by the Kyrie Eleison response from the deacons. The axios (worthy) hymn is then chanted, and the senior bishop holds the Book of the Gospels over the new pope’s head, while the deacons again sing axios. At this point, if he has not previously been consecrated to the episcopacy, all the bishops lay their hands upon his head, while the senior bishop says, “We lay our hands upon [or “pray for”] the elect servant of God, Anba [name], for the prosperity and peace of the One, Holy, Orthodox, Apostolic Church of God, that which He purchased with His Precious Blood.” The deacons again sing the axios hymn.
Here begins the robing of the new pope with the insignia of his office. Each item is accompanied by versicles from the Psalms of Isaiah and is followed by this response from the deacons: “Now and forever, and to the ages of ages, Amen.” First comes the main apparel (); then the sudrah, or epitrachelion (): the the girdle (); then the right sleeve (); then the left sleeve (); then the kerchiefs (); then the burnus, or phelonion (Is. 61:10); and lastly the miter (; see LITURGICAL VESTMENTS).
He is then led to the sanctuary, where the cross and pastoral staff have been laid on the altar. The senior bishop calls upon him to “receive the Pastoral Staff from the hand of the Shepherd of shepherds, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Here again, the deacons sing the axios hymn.
The incense box is then presented to him. He makes the sign of the cross over it and puts some incense into the censer. The other bishops do the same, and the senior bishop, looking toward the east, says a prayer of thanksgiving to God: “We glorify Thy Holy Name, for Thou hast done great things to us, and poured Thy rich gifts over thy servant the Pope and Patriarch Anba [name] by the descent of Thy Holy Spirit upon him.”
Here the new pope is taken to the partriarchal seat, the synthronos, for his formal enthronement. At the first stair the senior bishop proclaims, “We seat Anba [name] Archbishop upon the Apostolic Throne of Saint Mark the Evangelist, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.”
At the second stair he proclaims, “We enthrone the chief shepherd, chosen by God, Anba [name] Patriarch upon the Throne of Saint Mark….”
The deacons then sing the axios hymn, and the new Pope is presented with the Gospel of Saint Mark, which he kisses. The deacons here sing the Coptic hymn of the Golden Censer, followed by the hymn of the traditional honorifics of the pope of Alexandria.
Then follow a number of lections all relevant to the occasion of the choice of the high priest (; Ps. 73:23-24, 28, 107:32, 41-42, 110:4-5). After the Intercession of the Gospel, the pope reads , in which Christ speaks of the Good Shepherd. Every time these two words are mentioned, the deacons sing the axios hymn. Finally, they sing the hymn of the Descent of the Holy Spirit. The celebration of the Divine Liturgy is resumed. At the conclusion, the new pope is taken to the cathedral crypt, where he prays for the blessing of Saint Mark’s relics. He is then led in a procession back to the papel residence.
- Burmester, O. H. E. The Egyptian or Coptic Church, pp. 177-87. Cairo, 1967.