The head of a Coptic Orthodox monastery in Egypt has been found dead in a case that is being treated as a possible murder.
Bishop Epiphanius was the head of the monastery of St Macarius in Wadi El Natrun, founded in the 4th century.
He was found dead yesterday. According to Wataninet, monks of St Macarius’s say he had left his cell at dawn to attend matins, but appeared to have been intercepted on the way.
Security officials have said Bishop Epiphanius’ head was injured and there were injuries to his back, according to Assocated Press.
The leader of UK Copts, Archbishop Angaelos, tweeted: ‘Mourning the tragic death of our brother and friend Bishop Epiphanius, Abbot of St Makarious Monastery. A kind and gentle man, and a faithful shepherd and theologian of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Praying repose for his spirit and comfort for his monastic community.’
Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria issued an official statement describing Epiphanis as filled with modesty and gentleness.
Coptic Christians in Egypt comprise as much as 20 per cent of the population and are its largest religious minority. However, they suffer institutional discrimination and frequent violent attacks.
St Macarius Monastery is around 92 kilometres from Cairo. It has been continuously inhabited since 360 AD.