The late Pope Shenouda, whose picture is prominently featured on the front page of today's Post-Gazette, had visited the Pittsburgh area several times. He was head of the Coptic Church in Egypt, a branch of Christianity so old that his predecessors are believed to have used the title "pope" before the bishop of Rome first did.
His only "official" visit in the sense of public speaking and ecumenical engagement was in 1989. I covered it, but it was so long ago that the story wasn't stored electronically. For many years, however, he received medical treatment at the Cleveland Clinic, and sometimes paid a pastoral visit to his parish in Beaver County before returning to Egypt.
I covered the story when he dedicated a new buiilding for that parish in Ambridge. In an extended interview I found him to be a humble and engaging man. In his youth he was deeply involved in a Coptic revival movement, and he brought a deep spirituality and evangelical fervor to his ministry as pope. His death comes at a critical time for Egypt's Copts, and I hope there is a worthy successor in the wings.