Egypt // Cairo and the Pyramids //

Features of a Coptic church


As in Anglican and Catholic churches, the congregation of a Coptic church sit in the nave, the main body of the building, and pray towards an altar – a consecrated table covered with a cloth, on which the wine and wafer used for mass are placed. As in Greek and Russian Orthodox churches, however, the altar is hidden behind an altar screen (iconostasis), usually decorated with icons (paintings of saints), and only priests may enter the haikal (sanctuary area) behind the screen.

In front of the screen, the pulpit is typically made of marble. The thirteen pillars holding it up represent Jesus and the twelve disciples. Usually, one of the pillars is black, for Judas, and another, perhaps rather unfairly, is grey, for “doubting” Thomas.

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