METROPOLITAN MARCOS OF FRANCE DIES IN BARCELONA
The sudden death on 11 May of His Eminence Metropolitan Marcos of the Église Copte Orthodoxe de France (The French Coptic Orthodox Church) is a loss of a faithful son of Coptic Orthodoxy who was greatly loved and respected in ecumenical circles.
Although Abba Marcos had suffered health problems, including cancer, for more than a year, he continued to undertake many activities and was assiduous in witnessing to the Coptic tradition in ecumenical circles throughout Europe. He had also experienced occasional chest pains over the past year. On 6 May he and Abba Athanasios, were scheduled to travel to Barcelona to deliver a lecture about the Coptic Church. At the last minute their driver was unable to take them by car, so they decided to take the train. It was a very comfortable wagon and Abba Marcos slept calmly for the whole journey. Upon arrival in Barcelona, he was pale and breathless complained of chest pains, so his hosts rushed him to the nearby Notre Dame du Bon Remède, where it was discovered he had suffered a severe heart attack. In hospital he was cheerful and alert and took the chance to read a book as well as resting and praying.
On Sunday morning, 11 May, Abba Athanasios had to leave Barcelona to celebrate the Liturgy for the Coptic community at Cerverabut planned to return that night. It is only then that he learned of the departure of Abba Marcos around 10.30 a.m. It was Western Pentecost.
His Holiness Pope Shenouda sent Bishops Bassilios of the Monastery of St. Samuel at Maghagha in Minya and Abraam of the Fayoum to help and according to Abba Marcos’ will, his body was transferred to Egypt to be buried at St Bishoy’s Monastery.
They arrived in Cairo on 18 May and were graciously received by H.H. Pope Shenouda, who presided at the funeral which took place in St. Mark’s Cathedral, Cairo, in the presence of a large congregation and many members of the Holy Synod.
Upon hearing the news, Abba Seraphim wrote immediately to Bishop Athanasios,
“Having just received the sad news of the passing of my very dear brother, Abba Marcos, I write at once to offer you my heartfelt sympathy at his loss and to assure you of my prayers and those of my flock for his repose.
I am told that many of the Coptic websites in Arabic are already full of messages expressing grief at his passing and praising his many years of devoted service to the Coptic Church. I am delighted that his ministry is so widely recognised, as great responsibility for the spread of the Coptic Church in Europe belongs with him. If the Copts have much for which to thank him, then so do many others. His warm ecumenical spirit and open hearted approach to other Christians was not only a good witness to our own church but also helped others to discover the spiritual riches of the Coptic tradition. Having cared for a generation of Copts settled in France, he then extended his ministry beyond the diaspora and brought the Coptic Church to Europeans who desired to embrace the Faith.
My own memories of him over the years are many and happy. He was a generous and warm-hearted companion; gracious in his speech and manner; kind to those who sought his help; discerning of the riches of our Christian heritage, whether Eastern or Western and with a humble simplicity which drew people to him. I value the good spirit which enabled us to co-operate fully at all times, to discuss our concerns and to agree a common mind in mutual practical and prayerful support. I shall miss him.”