I had a question regarding the icons used in Egypt. I know that Coptic icons are very distinctive, and I was wondering, do the churches of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria (EO) employ Byzantine-style icons, or do they use Coptic-style (OO) in their parishes?
Both Churches have been in Egypt for centuries, and I would like to know if they share any practices unique to Egyptians, or is the Greek Patriarchate simply the Greek Orthodox Church transplanted to Egyptian soil?
Thank you in advance for any feedback!
Egypt has some of the oldest "Byzantine" icons:St. Catherine's at Sinai was not subject to the iconoclast emperors. Medieval icons EO and OO in Egypt are nearly indistinquishable. It is only with the neo-Coptic renaissance and the revival of Palaeologian style among the EO that the distinctions have become pronounced.
The veils in the sanctuary are like the Coptic ones, and the older Churches have more elements in common, but the Ottoman period (1517-1811) homogenized a lot with the rest of the Mediterranean, then the Muhammad Ali dynasty (the royal house of Egypt 1811-1953) whose founder (a Turkified Albanian from Greece) brought in a lot of Greeks (and Armenians). This on top of the suppression of the native rites (the ones the Copts continue) of the EO in Egypt in 1200.
Btw, there are plenty of Antiochians transplanted to Egyptian soil, including yours truely. There were natives a long time back, though (including before the Ottomans came): Pope Eutychios (933-40) was born Sa'id ibn BiTriq in Fustat/Old Cairo in 876 and spoke no Greek, only Arabic and Syriac (the latter being the language he read Greek works in translation).