Father Daniel Maher, 53, a priest at St. George's church, holds a photo of his slain son Beshoy, 23, who died at the church bombing in Tanta Egypt on April 9, 2017. "Beshoy was in front of me the whole time during the Palm Sunday service. The moment I got up into the church's alter, the explosion happened," Father Daniel said. "A [piece of] shrapnel got into his brain and his brother was set on fire."
Father Daniel Maher, 53, a priest at St. George's church, holds a photo of his slain son Beshoy, 23, who died at the church bombing in Tanta, Egypt, on April 9, 2017. "Beshoy was in front of me the whole time during the Palm Sunday service. The moment I got up into the church's alter, the explosion happened," Father Daniel said. "A [piece of] shrapnel got into his brain and his brother was set on fire."Jonathan Rashad for TIME
Father Daniel Maher, 53, a priest at St. George's church, holds a photo of his slain son Beshoy, 23, who died at the church bombing in Tanta Egypt on April 9, 2017. "Beshoy was in front of me the whole time during the Palm Sunday service. The moment I got up into the church's alter, the explosion happened," Father Daniel said. "A [piece of] shrapnel got into his brain and his brother was set on fire."
Enayat Shenouda, 62, holds a photo of her slain husband, Saad Zaki Badawi, 73. "Four months ago, after the recent Cairo Cathedral bombing, Saad told me he has wished he was one of the martyrs," Enayat said. "His wish came true yesterday. Now he is a martyr."
Abanoub, 22, holds a photos of his slain father, Michael Al-Almalek Mansour, 60. "I was watching the Palm Sunday service on TV and I saw the footage being cut off—hearing the screams of people. Once I saw that, I realized that my dad was dead. He always sat on the front bench during services," Abanoub said. "My dad slept next to me on bed the night before Palm Sunday. That was the last time I saw him."
Mark Samir Iskander, 30, and Salwa Nemr Youssef, 60, hold a photo of Michael Samir Iskander, 36. Michael was Mark's brother and Salwa's son. "I rushed into the church when I heard the news. We could not find his body [in] the church. After looking for hours in hospitals, we found his body in the morgue," Mark said. "Michael was the father of the house the moment his father passed away," Salwa added. "He was my everything."
Emad Tadros, 27, holds a photo of his slain father, Medhat Tadros, 63. "My rather was a military officer and a man of God. He was known for being the man of duty," Emad said. "I was so sad when I first head the news, then I was relieved knowing he died in the church. He is a martyr," he added. "He always sat on the front bench in all services at the church. Next year on Palm Sunday, I will sit on the same bench hoping I would die like him."
Amir Salib, 46, holds a photo of his slain twin brother Raouf Salib. "Raouf was one of the beadles (church officers) by the front bench during the service," Amir said. "The church was everything for him. It was more important than his work. He was born and raised there."
Father Daniel Maher, 53, a priest at St. George's church, holds a photo of his slain son Beshoy, 23, who died at the chu
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Jonathan Rashad for TIME
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'He Was My Everything': Portraits of Grief After Egypt Church Blasts

Apr 12, 2017

The main doorway to St. George’s church in Tanta had already been sealed. It wasn’t supposed to happen, not here and not on Palm Sunday. But horror returned to Egypt on April 9 when two suicide blasts at Coptic churches, in Tanta and Alexandria, killed at least 44 people and prompted President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to declare a three-month state of emergency. The Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Jonathan Rashad set off for the Nile Delta city, a few-hours train ride north of Cairo, where he is based. For two years, Rashad has embarked on portrait tours of mourning in Egypt. As he did in 2015 after the brutal killings of Egyptian Christians by the Islamic State in Libya, and after the downing of EgyptAir Flight 804 last May, Rashad aimed to capture the suffering of the families left behind.

On assignment for TIME in Tanta, Rashad attended funerals and was introduced to families through a local priest. Daniel Maher, a priest who was in the church at the time, lost his son, Beshoy. Mark Samir Iskander lost his brother, Michael. Emad Tadros lost his father, Medhat. Enayat Shenouda lost her husband, Saad Zaki Badawi.

He took them and others aside to hear the stories of those killed in the blast and take emotional portraits as they held images of the dead. Some spoke about first hearing about the explosion. Others expressed relief that a family member had become a martyr. One man named Abanoub told Rashad that he had been watching the Palm Sunday service on television when the footage was cut off; his father, who he said always sat on the front bench during services, was inside. "My dad slept next to me on bed the night before Palm Sunday," Abanoub said. "That was the last time I saw him."

Jonathan Rashad is a photographer based in Cairo. Follow him on Instagram @jonathanrashad.

Andrew Katz, who edited this photo essay, is TIME's Senior Multimedia Editor. Follow him on Twitter @katz.

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