The word Copt is an English word taken from the Arabic word Gibt or Gypt. It literally means Egyptian. The Arabs, after their conquest of Egypt in 641 AD, called the population of Egypt Gypt, from the Greek word “Egyptos” or Egypt. The Greek word “Egyptos” came from the ancient Egyptian words (Hut-Ka-Ptah), one of the names for “Memphis”, the first capital of Ancient Egypt. In contemporary usage, the term "Coptic" refers to Egyptian Christians. Today, Copts form almost 13% to 15% of Egypt’s population though they are not ethnically distinct from other Egyptians as they are fully integrated into the body of the modern Egyptian nation. In 1992, there were over nine million Copts (out of a population of some 57 million Egyptians) who pray and share communion in daily masses in thousands of Coptic Churches in Egypt. This is in addition to another 1.2 million immigrant Copts who practice their faith in hundreds of churches in the United States, Canada, Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Holland, Brazil, and many other countries in Africa and Asia. Inside Egypt Copts live in every province though in no one of these provinces are they a majority.
Saint Mina is considered the most well known saint in the East and the West, due to the many miracles that are performed through his prayers for us. Saint Mina was born in Egypt in the year 285, in the city of Niceous which lies in the vicinity of Memphis. His parents were true ascetic Christians named Audexios and Aufimia. On the feast of St. Mary, Aufimia (who had not been blessed with any children) was praying with tears in front of the Icon of the Virgin that God may give her a blessed son. A sound came to her ears saying, "Amen" and thus she called her son Mina. His father, a ruler of one of the administrative divisions in Egypt, died when Mina was fourteen years old. At fifteen, Mina joined the army and because of his father’s reputation, he was given a high ranking and appointed to Algeria. Three years later, he left the army longing to devote his whole life for Christ. He headed towards the desert to live a different kind of life. After he spent five years as a hermit, Mina saw the angels crowning the martyrs with glamorous crowns and he longed to join them. While he was thinking about it, he heard a voice saying: "Blessed are you Abba Mina, because you have been called for the pious life from your childhood. You shall be granted three immortal crowns; one because of your celibacy, the second because of your asceticism and the third because of your martyrdom." Immediately he felt as if the earth under him was vanishing, and he was overwhelmed with great eagerness to be carried away to heavens. In a mood of valour he hurried to the ruler, declaring his Christian faith. His endless sufferings and the tortures that he endured attracted many of the pagans not only to Christianity, but also to martyrdom.
St. Mina’s Relics:
St. Mina’s assassins tried to burn his relics but they failed, so the believers loaded his body on a camel and headed towards the western desert. At a certain spot, the camel stopped and the people could not force it to continue its trip by any means. The people buried the body of St. Mina near a water well (that place is his present monastery at the end of Marriout Lake, not far from Alexandria).
The Discovery of St. Mina’s Body:
It happened that while a shepherd was feeding his sheep in that area, a sick lamb fell upon the ground. As it struggled to rise to its feet, the sheep’s scab was cured. The story was quickly spread and the sick who came upon this spot recovered from whatever illnesses they had, just by laying on the ground. During that time, the daughter of King Zinon, the Christ-lover, caught leprosy. His advisor’s suggested that she should try that place, and she did. At night, St. Mina appeared to the girl and informed her that his body was buried in that place. The following morning, she bathed in the well and was healed. She related her vision about St. Mina to her servants and how he had cured her. St. Mina in Marriout Immediately, King Zinon ordered St. Mina’s body to be dug out, and a church to be built in that place. He also ordered a large city to be built and named in honour of St. Mina. Sick people from all over the world used to visit that city and were healed by the intercession of St. Mina, the miracle-maker.
St. Marina was born in 230 A.D., in the city of Pyssidya, Antioch in the middle of Asia Minor. She was the only daughter of 2 pagan parents (idol worshippers). Her father, Dacious, was the high priest of the idol temple. Her mother died while Marina was 5 years old. While Marina was at an early age she needed a lot of attention after her mother passed away. Her father decided to bring a teacher to look after his only daughter. The teacher was a Christian woman, who lived in a very small village next to their city. This teacher had great faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Marina felt great joy and happiness while she was with her teacher, and she realized she did not wish to follow her parents’ religious lifestyle.
When Marina was fifteen years old, her father passed away. Marina continued loving and obeying her teacher and her teacher also considered Marina's life as one of the Lord's gifts and blessings, for Marina was a beautiful righteous youth. The teacher planted the seeds of the sound and right Christian faith in the heart of young Marina in her early age. Marina entered into a new period of her life, during which she had to face severe punishment and persecutions because of her love and dedication to the Lord Jesus Christ. A new governor came to the city whose name was "Wali-Farnos". This evil governor accompanied his troops looking for Christians to persecute. He spotted Marina walking out with her companions. When he saw her beauty he decided to take her as a wife if she was a free woman, but if she was a slave, he wanted to pay to free her from her master. When the soldiers tried to arrest her, she called on the Lord Jesus Christ her heavenly bridegroom to save her. The soldiers returned to the governor and said, “We couldn't arrest this young woman because she is Christian."
The Governor started to panic after hearing this news, and he ordered his soldiers to bring Marina in chains to stand in front of him and answer his questions. When he started asking her where she came from, she said, "I am Christian and not a slave." Then the governor asked, "From which tribe do you come?" and "What is your name?" Marina replied, "I am from the tribe of Jesus Christ," and "I am Marina." The Governor ordered Marina to be tortured and he tied her up with rope and started beating her with sticks and whips. Then he ordered the soldiers to comb her body with an iron comb, saw her body with an iron saw, and cut her skin to little pieces with knives. They dragged her and hanged her and burned her body with torches. Every time they tortured Marina, Archangel Michael came and healed her with the sign of the cross. Marina also overcame the devil with the sign of the cross while she was in prison. In the morning, the Governor ordered Marina to be placed in a tub of boiling water, but the Lord made the water warm, and she received the holy baptism. At this moment the people proclaimed their belief in Jesus Christ. The governor ordered the beheading of these believers, as well as the beheading of St Marina.
St. Marina received the crown of martyrdom. Many miracles have also occurred through the prayers and intercessions of Saint Marina till this day.