Coptic Church

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One of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. According to tradition the Church in Egypt was founded by St Mark; Alexandria was one of the chief sees in the early Church. The Egyptian Church suffered severely in the persecution under Diocletian. In the 4th cent. monasticism was founded in Egypt by St Antony and others. Most of the Copts rejected the Council of Chalcedon's Definition of the two natures in the incarnate Christ and became increasingly isolated from the rest of Christendom. The Orthodox (Melchite) body established in Alexandria received little support from the native population. In Upper Egypt, however, there was a rapid development of monasticism. In the 7th cent. the Copts were conquered by the Arabs, whose rule has lasted to the present day. Outside Egypt there are Coptic dioceses at Jerusalem, in the Sudan, Kenya, France, and the USA. The Ethiopian Church is an autonomous daughter of the Egyptian Church. There is also a small Uniat Coptic Church dating from 1741, when Athanasius, the Coptic Bishop of Jerusalem, joined the RC Church.

Subjects: Christianity.

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