The Cathedral of the Holy Virgin (PORT SAID)
THE CATHEDRAL OF THE HOLY VIRGIN (Mary, Queen of the World) is the largest church in Port Said and one of the most majestic sanctuaries in Egypt. It is located on 23rd of July Street in the eastern district (the European Quarter) in Port Said.
On April 10, 1927, the first bishop of the newly established Suez Canal Catholic Metropolitan arrived in Port Said. The cathedral’s foundation stone was laid on February 11,1934, and the building was completed in 1937. Artist Madame Frimone started the work on the cathedral’s paintings in 1937 and completed them after the Second World War in 1947. The cathedral bells were used for the first time on February 26, 1938.
The southern part of the cathedral is occupied by an altar whose ceiling is decorated with the symbols of the zodiac. The zodiac is painted in some medieval Christian buildings in Europe. For example, Christ is depicted in the center of a zodiac pattern on a gateway at Vezelay. This may symbolize the universal character of Christ’s mission. The church’s magnificent wall paintings depict 207 saints, including the Holy Trinity, angels, prophets, the apostles, martyrs, founders of the monastic orders, and holy queens. There are three marble statues behind the altar: the Virgin Mary “Queen of the World” carrying a globe (middle), St. Bernadette (left), and St. Catherine (right). The door of the tabernacle is decorated with a scene of the Virgin and Child.
After the Suez Canal Crisis and the Anglo-French attack on Port Said in 1956, the Catholic community of Europeans left Port Said. Eventually, the Coptic Orthodox community bought the church. In 1985, on the 24th of the Coptic month Bashons, Anba Tadrus, the Coptic Bishop of Port Said, celebrated Mass in the cathedral. The sanctuary is dedicated to the Holy Virgin Mary. Its wooden screen is surmounted by the scene of the Last Supper flanked by twelve icons representing the apostles.