His good relationship with Nasser is often cited as a marked contrast to Church-State relations in the Sadat and Mubarak era and the awkward situation since the election of President Morsi. Nasser was a key patron of the building of the new Coptic Cathedral in Abbasiyya (the Pope and the President are shown above laying the cornerstone in 1965, and below, with Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie and Anwar Sadat at the dedication, 1968).
I'm a little uncertain about one thing: traditionally formal canonization of saints in the Coptic Church had to wait for 50 years after the person's death, while Pope Kyrillos died in 1971, 42 years ago. Perhaps they are making an exception due to the fact that he has long been acclaimed a saint by popular opinion.
The other figure is less well known outside Coptic circles: Archdeacon Habib Girgis (1876-1951), who played several key roles in the renaissance of the Coptic Church in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Church had become calcified through the centuries, with poorly educated priests and Coptic faithful with little understanding of their Church, and it was losing adherents to Catholic and Protestant missionary efforts.
|Girgis as an Archdeacon|