A Brief Biography

of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III


His Holiness Pope Shenouda III was born on August 3, 1923 in the city of Asuit in Upper Egypt; he was given the name of Nazir Gayed. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 1947 from the University of Cairo

Pope Shenouda was very active in his church and served as a Sunday school teacher, at Saint Anthony's Church in Shobra and then at Saint Mary's Church in Mahmasha. He worked as a high school English and Social Studies teacher in Cairo by day and attended classes at the Coptic Theological Seminary by night.

Upon graduation from the seminary in 1949, he was chosen to teach New Testament Studies. He was appointed in 1953 as a teacher in the Monastic School. From his youth, His Holiness enjoyed writing, especially poems. He was the Editor-in-Chief of the Sunday School Magazine and at the same time, he continued his post-graduate studies at the Seminary of Archeology.

On July 18, 1954, Pope Shenouda was led to the monastic life at El-Suryan Monastery in the western desert of Egypt; he was given the name of Father Antonyos El-Suryaani. For six years, from 1956 to 1962, he lived a life of solitude in a cave about seven miles away from the monastery, dedicating all his time to meditation, prayer and asceticism.

On September 30, 1962, he was ordained by the late Pope Cyril VI as Bishop of Ecclesiastical (Religious) Education and was named President of the Coptic Theological Seminary; he was given the name of Bishop Shenouda. H.G Bishop Shenouda published the first issue of El-Keraza magazine in Arabic in 1965 and to this day remains the Editor-in-Chief. His Holiness is also the author of more than eighty books on a variety of subjects

On March 9, 1971, His Holiness Pope Kyrillos (Cyril) VI departed in peace. The Holy Synod met on March 22nd to plan for the election of the new Patriarch. Among the final three candidates was Bishop Shenouda

On October 31, 1971, the altar ballot was conducted during the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of Saint Reweis. At the end of the Liturgy, His Eminence Metropolitan Antonious laid his hands on a young boy who was then blindfolded and told to choose one of the three pieces of paper from the box. The ballot box had been taken from the altar and placed on an elevated table. As the congregation prayed the Lord's Prayer and the words Lord Have Mercy, the boy chose one paper and gave it to Metropolitan Antonious, who joyfully declared God's chosen shepherd for His church as His Grace Bishop Shenouda, Bishop of Education.

On November 14, 1971, in Saint Mark's Cathedral in Cairo, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III was enthroned as 117th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark.

His Holiness continues to lecture at the branches of the Seminary in Cairo and Alexandria. To meet the expanding ministry of Christian education, His Holiness established other branches of the Seminary in Egypt, as well as three graduate institutes: Biblical Studies, Hymnology and Coptic Language. On November 29, 1993, he officially opened the Institute of Pastoral Care.

For his erudition in theology and scripture, His Holiness has been awarded four honorary Doctoral Degrees in Theology--three from American Universities and one from a German University.

His edifying and spiritually uplifting sermons have won international acclaim. In 1978 the Browning Institute awarded him the prize for the best Christian preacher in the world. .