His Holiness Pope Tawadros II
118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark
H.H. Pope Tawadros II was born Wagih Sobhy Baky Soliman on November 4th, 1952 in Mansoura, Egypt. His family moved from Mansoura in the Egyptian Delta to Sohag in Upper Egypt, finally settling in Damanhour in the Governorate of Beheira on the Mediterranean Coast of Egypt.
He was active in the ministries of the Church of the Archangel Michael in Damanhour, the seat of then Bishop Pachomius of Beheira, his lifetime mentor and spiritual leader.
Education and Formation
His Holiness received his degree in pharmacy in 1975 from the University of Alexandria and in 1985, earned a fellowship of the World Health Organization from the British International Health Institute in England. In his last year at the University of Alexandria, he enrolled at the Coptic Orthodox Theological Seminary of Alexandria, where he graduated in 1983. His professional career in pharmacy led him back to Damanhour where he managed a pharmaceutical company of the Egyptian Ministry of Health. Pope Tawadros' close work with Metropolitan Pachomius, Archbishop of Beheira, goes back to his years as a university student when his broadmindedness and keenness on church service drew the archbishop's attention. He served with the Metropolitan until he took to monastic life, and in 1986 went to the Monastery of St. Bishoy in Wadi El-Natrun.
After completing a two year novitiate, in 1988, he was formally tonsured a monk by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III and given the name “Theodore Anba-Bishoy.” His tasks at the monastery included oversight of the guesthouse. Two years later, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood and was selected by H.E. Metropolitan Pachomius to serve in his archdiocese as a director of youth ministries. On June 7, 1997, he was consecrated as H.G. Bishop Tawadros by H.H. Pope Shenouda III and the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church as General Bishop of Beheira and auxiliary to Metropolitan Pachomius, upon the Metropolitan’s request. Tawadros is the Coptic derivation of the Greek name “Theodoros,” which means ‘Gift of God.’
In addition to his pastoral and administrative duties in the Archdiocese, Bishop Tawadros pursued studies in Christian education and church administration. He was a member of the Holy Synod Committee for Children, a leading member planning committee of the annual youth festival of St. Mark and authored 12 books on theology during the time of his episcopacy. Under H.E. Metropolitan Pachomius, he established Beit al-Karma (House of the Vineyard) in King Mariut, Egypt, as a retreat and cultural center on Egypt’s north coast.
118th Pope of Alexandria
Following the departure of H.H. Pope Shenouda III on March 17, 2012, H.E. Metropolitan Pachomius was unanimously elected Locum Tenens (Acting Patriarch) of the Throne of St. Mark. According to the practices and traditions of the Coptic Orthodox Church, following the participation of clergy and laity in elections, three names of the final candidates for the papacy were placed in the Altar Lot on Sunday, November 4, 2012.
The name of H.G. Bishop Tawadros was selected and His Holiness was enthroned as Pope Tawadros II on November 18th, 2012 at the Grand Cathedral of St. Mark in Cairo, Egypt.
A Vibrant Papacy
On May 10, 2013, Pope Tawadros II paid a fraternal visit to Pope Francis of Rome at the Vatican. This visit, his first international visit since his enthronement, was timed to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the visit of Pope Shenouda III to Pope Paul VI in 1973.
In September 2014, His Holiness visited Ottawa, Canada. He led the liturgy at St. George and St. Anthony Coptic Orthodox Church, in which he added new deacons, baptized three children, and blessed the church's third priest, Abouna Anthony.