Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis will be flying to Cairo on Friday, barely a month after two churchbombings killed 45 people in two Egyptian cities.
The middle east has been home to some of the faith’s earliest churches, the region’s Christian communities have been in decline for decades, but wars in this century in Iraq and Syria, and the emergence of Islamic Stat have put their future in doubt.
No precise figures exist, reports indicate that Christian numbers had fallen from 1.5 million in 2003 to between 100,000 and 200,000 today. Others say up to 400,000 may still live there, but many have lost their homes and are displaced.
Christianity spread through the Middle East during the first century, overtaking pagan Eastern cults and co-existing with older faiths, like Judaism and Zoroastrianism.
Although Islam gained predominance in the region from the 7th century, many Muslim rulers allowed Christians freedom of worship.