Biography of Pope Tawadros II
118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark
Pope Tawadros II (birth name: Wagih Ṣubḥi Baqi Sulayman) was born on November 4th, 1952 in the city of Mansoura, Egypt. His father was an irrigation engineer and the family followed his career evolution throughout Lower Egypt, before settling in the city of Alexandria.
In 1975, His Holiness completed his BSc. in Pharmacy at the University of Alexandria. He travelled to England in 1985 where he earned a Fellowship (Quality Assurance and Quality Control of Drugs) for the World Health Organization from the British International Health Institute.
He enhanced his education by pursuing advanced courses in pharmaceutical engineering. His career as a Ministry of Health pharmacist progressed until he became the managing director of a state-owned pharmaceutical factory in Damanhour. In his free time, His Holiness had a fondness for reading and photography.
Spiritual life and Monastic progression:
Since his youth, His Holiness had longed for the monastic life. His Holiness began serving at the ancient church of the Archangel in Damanhour in 1968, while still in High School. He attended the Coptic Theological Seminary, to deepen his knowledge of the theology and history of the Orthodox Church, and graduated in 1983.
In 1986, His Holiness travelled to the Monastery of St. Pishoy in Wadi El Natroun, and made the request to join the monastic life on August 20th. His request was granted two years later. Before becoming a monk, he served in the monastery’s kitchen and was also in charge of the monastery’s pharmacy. He was ordained monk on Sunday July, 21st 1988 and Pope Shenouda gave him the name Tawadros.
On December 23rd 1989, His Holiness was ordained priest. He started serving with H.E. Metropolitan Pakhomius of Beheira on February 15th, 1990. While still a monk, His Holiness travelled to Cyprus in 1990 and 1993 to attend the Ecumenical meetings of the Middle East Council of churches discussing “Church and Development”. In 1995, His Holiness travelled to Libya to assist the Fathers who served in Tripoli and Benghazi.
He was ordained a General Bishop on June 15th, 1997 by the late H.H. Pope Shenouda III to assist H.E. Metropolitan Pakhomius. Bishop Tawadros. He was in charge of the Holy Synod’s committee dedicated to ministering to the children. He participated in the organization of the annual, country-wide, children’s festival known as “Mahragan El Keraza” which has since become an international event, held at all of the Coptic churches outside of Egypt. In 1999, His Holiness travelled to Singapore to study “Christian Teaching and Administration”. Before assuming the papacy, His Holiness had written twelve books.
After the departure of H.H. Pope Shenouda III, 17 candidates, including monks and bishops, were short-listed for the election process. About 2,400 clergymen and other church dignities narrowed the selection to three top candidates: Bishop Tawadros, Bishop Raphael; and Father Raphael Ava Mina, a monk in a monastery near Alexandria and disciple of the late Pope Cyril VI.
The ceremony to select the new Pope was held at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, on November 4th 2012. Metropolitan Pachomios, locum tenens of the Church, placed the names of the three candidates in a sealed chalice, which was set upon the altar for the duration of the Divine Liturgy. Metropolitan Pachomios asked the congregation to “pray that God will choose the good shepherd”. A blindfolded 6 years boy was led to the chalice and was instructed to put his hand in to select one of the 3 orbs (each containing the name of the one of the 3 candidates). Pope Tawadros was thus divinely selected, on his birthday, to lead and shepherd the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt.