|Coptic Icon of St. Mark|
According to tradition, St. Mark the Evangelist carried the message of Christianity to Alexandria in Egypt and founded the first communities that became the Coptic Church. There is a fragment of the Gospel of John written in Coptic that dates to the first half of the 2nd century in Upper Egypt, suggesting that St. Mark's efforts bore widespread fruit. The English name "Copt" started being used in the 17th century, from the Latin Coptus (Copt), which derived from Arabic al-ḳubṭ (the Copts) from Greek Aigyptios (Egyptian).
Christianity's foothold in Egypt was strong, and has remained so. The Catechetical School in Alexandria has operated continuously since 190 CE, and produced some significant theologians of the first millennium: Athenagoras, Clement, and the prolific Bible commentator Origen all studied there.