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Funeral of Pope Shenouda III, leader of Egypt's Coptic Christians, held in Cairo

The funeral service for Pope Shenouda at St. Mark's cathedral was packed with mourners, while thousands of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Christians gathered outside the church.

Pope Shenouda III funeral 2012 03 20Enlarge
Pope Shenouda III, head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church, leads Christmas mass in Abassiya Cathedral in Cairo on Jan. 6, 2011. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)

The funeral of Pope Shenouda III, spiritual leader of Egypt's Coptic Christians, was held today in Cairo.

Pope Shenouda died Saturday at the age of 88 following a long illness.

The funeral service at St. Mark's cathedral in the Egyptian capital was packed with mourners, the BBC reported. Thousands of Coptic Orthodox Christians also gathered in silence outside the huge church.

Agence France-Presse said Shenouda's body was dressed in robes and a gold crown. The funeral was attended by Egyptian ministers, members of parliament and both Christian and Muslim public figures.

More from GlobalPost: In Egypt, death of Pope raises Coptic fears

Pope Shenouda's body had been on display since his death, drawing tens of thousands of Copts to the cathedral, GlobalPost's correspondent Erin Cunningham reported. After the funeral, he is to be buried at St. Bishoy monastery in the Nile Delta.

Egypt's estimated 8 million Copts, or 10 percent of the population, have felt increasingly marginalized in the country following last year's uprising that ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Pope Shenouda had worked quietly behind the scenes for his Coptic Christian minority’s place inside a peaceful Egypt.

A suicide bombing at a New Year's mass in 2011 killed 21, and 27 people died during protests last October in Cairo.

More from GlobalPost: Coptic Christian Pope Shenouda III dies at 88

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/120320/pope-shenouda-iii-funeral-cairo-egypt-coptic-christians