The list was printed in the daily press and fixed to the door of all cathedrals, so that the faithful could take note and, if they wished, raise objections. The list consisted of six bishops and three priest-monks. Another commission was responsible for drawing up the list of electors. There were 700 of these, forty of them representatives of the Ethiopian Church, reflecting the strong historical and doctrinal ties between the two churches. On 29 October the electors chose by ballot three out of the remaining five candidates: Anba Samuel, Anba Shenuda and Fr Timotheos. On 31 October they made their final choice by lot. Before the beginning of the liturgy the three names were placed in a casket, which was then sealed and deposited on the altar. Before the distribution of communion the deacons selected one of the young boys present in the congregation, who was given communion and had a special prayer recited over him. At the end of the service he was blindfolded and drew one of the lots from the casket. This bore the name of Anba Shenuda. On 31 October 1971 Anba Shenuda was elected head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt, in succession to Patriarch Kyrillos VI who had died on 9 March 1971. He is the one hundred and seventeenth patriarch in the Coptic line of succession to the throne of St Mark.

Anba Shenuda was born in 1923, in a village in the region of Asiut in Upper Egypt. He received a degree in English from the University of Cairo in 1947 and continued with advanced studies at the Egyptian Institute ofArchaeology. In 1948 he took part in the Palestinian war as an infantry officer. In 1949 he received the theological diploma from the Coptic seminary in Cairo and was then appointed to teach there. He withdrew in 1954 to the monastery of Deir al-Suriani in the Wadl al-Natriin and was ordained priest there in the following year, where he came under the influence of an Ethiopian ascetic who had come to live in the Egyptian desert. Since 1935 the Ethiopian Abuna 'Abd al-Maslh al-Habashi had inhabited a cave some 3 miles south of the monastery of Deir al-Baramus in the Wadl al-Natriin, where he practised an extreme asceticism. His consistent fasting and long vigils, in some ways even surpassing the austerity of his fourth-century models, left a lasting impact on many monks in the Coptic Church, and in particular on Shenuda. Shenuda's predecessor as patriarch, Kyrillos VI (1959-71), called him from the monastery in 1959 to become one of his secretaries, and in 1962 he was consecrated bishop, with special responsibility for religious education and the direction of the seminary. Shenuda was part of that generation of Coptic monastic clergy who would profoundly associate itself with the need for internal spiritual and structural reform. He has pointed out on a number of occasions that he would like to see the church today as strong as in the days of the fifth and sixth centuries.

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