the soil as indentured servants to wealthy landowners. One sister said, “They don’t dare take one head of grain to eat.” In either setting, however, their faith is alive. Despite being extremely poor and living in horrible conditions, such as sleeping on a mud floor with their oxen and pigs, they relate to their local parish as an extended family and do everything needed to sustain each other, even to the point of taking in orphans or those children or elderly who have no one to care for them. In the rural areas, most of the mothers must work in the fields along with their husbands and older children. Volunteers from the local
parishes provide daycare and watch over the children of these workers in the fields. They also teach them usable skills that improve the quality of their lives. This is another way for them to display with pride their Coptic cross tattoo. How can garbage collectors and sorters who live surrounded by mountains of garbage in Cairo’s ghettoes be considered productive? How can they sing “Alleluia” at Mass on Epiphany? It is possible because so many of them look to the cross on their wrist for their cherished identity. They are not outcasts. They are not “second class.” They are brothers and sisters to Christ, and he is their Lord.
Copts are tattooed with the cross at baptism.
When you see a report about something happening in Egypt or see some cultural or touristic highlight about that country, remember that Jesus, the Holy Family, also were there. It is a holy place, and the Coptic faithful keep it holy with their lives, their example and their prayers. CNEWA is honored to accompany them as they display their Coptic cross. Please keep them in your prayers.
Msgr. John E. Kozar
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF CNEWA
The official publication of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA)