One of the first things you will notice is an abundance of images, or icons. Icons are written in a very specific style, used universally in the Coptic Orthodox church. They are there to help us to pray and are deliberately made to look unrealistic to differentiate the icons from idols to avoid worship or prayer to the image itself. Some of these icons depict the Lord Jesus Christ, others depict the angels and the saints. A constant feature of Orthodox worship is veneration of the saints and in particular, the Virgin Mary. We often address her as “Theotokos,” which means “Bearer of God.” The saints who have departed this world are still alive, and very much a part of our church. We believe that they are the victorious church (since they have finished their race and received the prize of eternal life) and we are the struggling church here on earth. We do not pray to saints, contrary to popular belief, but we ask for their prayers on our behalf the same as you would ask a spiritual father or friend to pray for you. We also believe that the church is Heaven on earth and that although the saints are not with us in the physical church they are with us in the heavenly Church, praying with us and for us.