Copts are Native Christian descendants of the ancient Egyptians. The name is the Europeanised form of the Arabic Kubr, which probably derives from the Gk Aiguptoi (Egyptians). There are about Copts in Egypt. They are, in general, the best educated section of the community.
The history of the copt is intimately bound up with their faith. They claim to have received the gospel from St Mark, 1st bishop of Alexandria, but they were easily corrupted and em- braced the Monophysite heresy. This was condemned by the Council of Chalcedon in 451 ,and immediately a fierce struggle arose between the orthodox and the heterodox.
The orthodox party, being supported from Rome, were at first tn the ascendant, and the Monophysites did not scruple to call in the Muslims to their aid. Thus came about the Muslim invasion in 640, and after a few years of Arabian rule the orthodox were almost entirely exterminated. A few still survive under the orthodox patriarch of Alexandria. T
he Coptic Christians in their turn were also cruelly oppressed by the Muslims, who forced them to submit to all kinds of degradation and destroyed many of their churches. Having been thus cut off so many centuries from the influence of the rest of Christendom, the Coptic Church has preserved its anct liturgies and customs almost intact.
It is therefore Of great interest to students of liturgiology, and has received a good deal of attention in recent times. Except for their Monophysite heresy the C. hold the faith in exactly the same form as the Gks, with whom they share in holding the single procession of the Holy Spirit. Some few C. are Rom. Catholics and Protestants.
At the end of 1937 the Abyssinian Coptic Church, which since its foundation has been under the authority of the Coptic Church Of Egypt—whose patriarch nominated the arch- bishop and bishops of the Abyssinian Church from the Egyptian clergy—broke away from the mother Church and claimed the status of an autocephalous body. The archbishop was deposed and the Abyssinian bishops elected one of their own members as the new Abuna.