Heavy-hearted Christians in Egypt packed churches to attend Christmas Eve masses Thursday.
Those attending put aside fears of another attack like the suicide bombing of an Alexandria church that killed 21 worshippers New Year's Day.
"Before I congratulate you for Christmas, I want to mourn our children in Alexandria and in many countries where they have been martyred; innocents who haven't done anything,' Pope Shenouda III, head of The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, told the Christmas Eve mass at Cairo's main cathedral.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq had threatened Christians in Iraq and Egypt in the weeks leading up to the holidays and last Saturday's deadly bombing.
Militant websites have even posted names and addresses of churches to target in Egypt. Still, Christians turned out for the services in large numbers.
At Alexandria's Church of the Saints, where the New Year's attack occurred, female congregants dressed in black. Men wore badges that read "Pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you."
"Believe that everything leads to goodness for those who love God," the priest told the churchgoers. "What happened was a test for our faith."