Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria
Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria is the historical seat of the Pope of Alexandria, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The cathedral is said to stand on the site of the church founded by St. Mark the Evangelist in AD 60. St. Mark the Evangelist (author of the second Gospel) has been connected with the city of Alexandria since earliest Christian tradition. Coptic Christians believe he arrived in Alexandria around AD 60 and stayed for about seven years. During this time, Mark converted many to Christianity and performed many miracles. He is considered the founder of the church in Alexandria and the first Bishop of Alexandria.
According to tradition, St. Mark was arrested during a festival of Serapis in AD 68 and martyred by being dragged through the streets. He was buried under the church he had founded. In 828, the body of St. Mark was stolen from the Alexandrian church by Venetians to be enshrined in the grand new St. Mark's Basilica in Venice. However, the head of the saint remained in Alexandria and every newly-appointed Patriarch of Alexandria began his service with holding the holy head of St. Mark in his lap and changing its cloth shroud. The head of St. Mark was moved around a great deal over the centuries, and has been lost for over 250 years. Some of the relics from the body of St. Mark, however, were returned to Alexandria from Rome in 1968 during the papacy of Pope Cyril VI. The present St. Mark's Coptic Cathedral is of recent date, but is said to stand on the site of church founded by St. Mark himself.