Pope Tawadros II was born Waǧīh Ṣubḥī Bāqī Sulaymān on 4 November 1952 in the city of Mansoura in Egypt. He studied at the University of Alexandria, where he received a degree in pharmacy in 1975. After a few years of managing a state-owned pharmaceutical factory, he joined the Monastery of Saint Pishoy in Wadi Natrun to study theology for two years. He was ordained a priest in 1989 (1705–1706).
On 15 June 1997 (8 Paoni 1713), he was consecrated as a general bishop by his predecessor as pope, Shenouda III, with the Greek name of Theodoros, which translates to Tawadros in Coptic or Theodore in English. Arabic spelling: تاوضروس. He was assigned to serve in the Eparchy of Behira in the northwestern Delta.
The papal selection process began several weeks before the 18 November/9 Hathor selection. About 2,400 clergymen and others shortlisted three candidates: Bishop Tawadros, former aide to Metropolitan Pachomios; Bishop Raphael, General Bishop in Downtown Cairo; and Father Raphael Ava Mina, a monk in a monastery near Alexandria and disciple of the 116th pope, Cyril VI.
The ceremony to choose the pope from the three consensus candidates was held at Cairo’s St. Mark’s Cathedral at about noon, with a marked police presence. Metropolitan Pachomios, locum tenens of the Church, put slips bearing the candidates’ names in a sealed chalice which was set upon the altar, then led the Divine Liturgy. He told the congregation to “pray that God will choose the good shepherd”, and a blindfolded boy took a slip — Tawadros — from the chalice.
Bishop Pachomius formally announced that the sixty-year-old Bishop Tawadros was to be the 118th Pope, and would be Pope Tawadros II, after Pope Tawadros I (r. 730–742), who was consecrated 45th Coptic Patriarch and Pope during Egypt’s Umayyad Period (658–750). Tawadros II said, from the monastery at Wadi Natrun, “[We] will start by organising the house from within. It is a responsibility. Most important is … that the church, as an institution, serves the community”. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsicongratulated Tawadros and called for Egyptian “unity” and “brotherly love” between Copts and Muslims. Bishop Raphael, who came first in the election stage of papal selection, was appointed general secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church.