Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church announced the official opening of “The Nativity of the Christ Cathedral” next Sunday in the New Administrative Capital, which lies 60 kilometers east of Cairo.
The cathedral, the largest in the Middle East, will officially open on January 6 when Coptic Christmas mass will be held.
“The mass will be attended by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II,” the Church said in a statement.
The cathedral, built on 7,500 square meters, can accommodate 8,200 worshipers and the complex has been designed around a large central square, and includes a papal residence, a reception hall, meeting rooms and offices.
In January 2017, Sisi commissioned the building of the Cathedral following twin terrorist attacks that killed at least 27 Coptic Egyptians at St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church in Cairo on Palm Sunday.
At the time, he promised that the largest church and mosque would be built in Egypt’s new capital city by 2018 and would mark 50 years since the construction of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, donating EGP 100,000 for the project.
In 2015, Sisi became the first Egyptian President to attend Christmas Mass.
The Coptic Church said Thursday it would send private invitations for those who could attend the Jan. 6 mass, adding that the public can attend after registering with the Church.
Also, the neighboring mosque, Al-Fattah Al-Alim, is getting the final touches in preparation for an official inauguration by Sisi this month. Being one of the largest mosques in the world, it will house Pharaonic, Islamic and Coptic artifacts and can accommodate more than 12,000 worshipers.
The New Capital, which is currently being developed by the New Administrative Capital for Urban Development, will include residential districts, educational institutions, hospitals, hotel rooms, a theme park, solar plants and a new international airport.