A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, March 19, 2012

Shenouda's Last Viewing

Front Page, Al-Tahrir: "The Last Viewing"
Yesterday tens of thousands of the Coptic faithful flocked to Saint Mark's Cathedral in Abbasiyya to pay final respects to Pope Shenouda III. In an ancient tradition, rather than viewing the deceased laid out in an open casket as in Western funerals, the last viewing takes place with the pontiff on his papal throne for the last time.

That paragon of journalism, The Daily Mail, seems to find this particularly unusual.  I think it's done in other Eastern Church traditions as well, and frankly I don't see how it differs greatly from any viewing in which the corpse of the deceased is publicly displayed: and that is regularly done in most Western traditions. Perhaps I'm more multiculturally attuned than The Daily Mail, but then you can probably say that of just about everybody.

I have already offered my own initial obituary, but Al Jazeera English's video obit may be of interest, particularly for its historical film clips:

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