MARK VIII, 108th patriarch of the See of Saint Mark (1796-1809). He was able to steer the affairs of the Coptic church and the Coptic
community with great wisdom and much diplomacy during the momentous events of the French Expedition (1798) and the French
occupation of Egypt. He was still pope of the Coptic church when MUHAMMAD ‘ALI (1805-1848) became viceroy of Egypt. Mark VIII made it a habit to issue regular encyclicals to be read in the Coptic churches, urging his people to maintain the traditional Christian doctrines and virtues at a time when many Copts were slipping into vicious customs.
The building of the Cathedral of Saint Mark at al-Azbakiyyah was started toward the end of Mark's reign. The story of obtaining the decree authorizing that building from the Sublime Porte is associated with the name of the notable Copt IBRAHIM AL-JAWHARI, then the head of the scribes of the whole of Egypt. In his official capacity, he was able to organize the pilgrimage to Mecca of one of the sultan's ladies and in the meantime offered to her valuable presents. In recognition of his services, she asked him to submit a wish that she would carry to the sultan. Ibrahim at once requested a decree for building the church, which was immediately granted. The building, however, was carried out in the time of his brother, JIRJIS AL-JAWHARI, who succeeded him in the diwan after his death. The cathedral was built on land belonging to General YA‘QUB and MALATI YUSUF, and that area became the seat of the new patriarchate.
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