On 23 January 1876, the Cathedral Church of All Saints’ was consecrated in Cairo, Egypt by Bishop Samuel Gobat with the Duke of Sutherland laying the foundation stone. “Though originally just a small parish church, it became the main centre of worship for many British residents in Cairo and in the surrounding areas.” Enlargements were made in 1891, 1892 and in 1899.
In 1914 Egypt became a British Protectorate and in 1915, the Bishop of Jerusalem decided “the time had come for the construction in Cairo of a church worthy of our religion and our name.” In a letter to The Times on 29 June 1916, Bishop McInnes said “such a church would be a witness and a symbol of our Christian faith to the people of Egypt…. To ourselves it would not only be a symbol, but the outward expression of our inward faith, the centre of our religious life, and a new and perpetual incentive to worship.”
All Saints Cathedral soon became too small for the parish and St. Mary’s Church was consecrated in 1909 and used by the Bishop as the Pro-Cathedral during World War I. In 1925, “it was decided, particularly after some subsidence of the floor, to demolish the building [All Saints Cathedral], sell the site, and use the funds from so valuable a location to construct another church in a more suitable area.” The church was sold for 70,000 Pounds and St. Mary’s was again used. From 1925-1938 St. Mary’s was the Pro-Cathedral until the new All Saints Cathedral was finished. At that time, St. Mary’s Church was sold to the Greek Catholic Church and the St. Mary’s Waqf was started (it continues to be a source of revenue even today).
On 25 April 1938, the Feast of St. Mark, the patron saint of Egypt, Bishop Llewellyn Gwynne established the second All Saints’ Cathedral in Cairo and the Archbishop of York, Dr. William Temple, consecrated it. World War II brought many British to Egypt and North Africa, but also created a sense of colonialism. In 1956, after a decade of political unrest in Egypt, the government forced all expatriate clergy to repatriate, leaving only four Egyptian clergy, temporarily under the direct oversight of the Archbishop in Jerusalem, to maintain dozens of churches throughout Egypt.
With great regret and sadness, many Anglican churches in Egypt were destroyed, some were taken by other denominations, and some were given to other denominations. Yet, God preserved the Anglican church in Egypt which remembers “blessed by Egypt my people.”
In 1963, All Saints Cathedral was given notice by President Gamal Abdel Nasser of its future demolition to make way for the bridge connecting El Gezira to Ramses. The second All Saints Cathedral was destroyed in 1978, ridding the Cairo skyline of anything “western” or “Christian.”
On the Feast of St. Mark, 25 April 1988, the third and present All Saints Cathedral in Zamalek, Cairo was consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishops Ghais Abdel Malek and Isaaq Musaad (the Diocese of Egypt’s second and first Egyptian bishops, respectively).
On 25 April 2013 we will celebrate 25 years of our third Cathedral, 75 years of our second Cathedral and 137 years of a church called All Saints. Although our actual anniversary is in April, the construction needed and the renovations required will need time. We therefore have decided to have the celebrations on the All Saints Day weekend (31 October-3 November 2013).