1-888-834-1448

Egypt: Egypt's 1960's Remarkable Virgin Mary Sightings, Egypt


Egypt's 1960s Remarkable Virgin Mary Sightings

By Amargi Hillier

vmary1


(Cairo) While all in America were watching the Chicago riots at the Democratic Convention, or viewing live war zone broadcasts from Vietnam or were being mesmerized by the Watergate hearings on television, the Mother of Jesus was appearing for tens of thousands to see in the land of the pyramids at a Coptic church constructed to commemorate the area in Egypt where she had come with Joseph and Jesus when they all fled from Herod. Starting in April, 1968, her apparitions of light changed the lives of thousands. Her appearances at Zeitun were astounding. She was seen by more than a million people. The apparitions were broadcast by Egyptian TV, photographed by hundreds of professional photographers and personally witnessed by Egyptian President Abdul Nasser. The apparitions lasted for three years with numerous unaccountable healings recorded by various medical professionals. The local police, who initially thought the apparitions were an elaborate hoax, searched a 15-mile radius surrounding the site to uncover any type of device that could be used to project such images. They were completely unsuccessful.

vmary4

Today the cathedral of Zeitoun, a massive concrete bunker-like basilica, overflows with the faithful. Inside, priests in dark robes and boys in white gowns and scarlet sashes walk towards the hazy golden altar, bearing billowing incense and chanting the Coptic liturgy. The whole massive edifice was built to commemorate the fact that 25 years ago, the Holy Mother herself honored this spot with her presence. To some it was a blinding light, unlike anything on earth. To others she was unmistakable, the Virgin Mary, walking as if in the flesh, on the roof of the small chapel across from where the basilica now stands, looking like the paintings and icons they revered.

vmary7

Her first visit was on the night of April 2, 1968. Two Muslim watchmen at a garage saw a woman walking the roof of the church across the street. Afraid she was going to jump, they ran out shouting at her not to take her life, summoning a crowd below. The priest of the chapel was the first to believe it was an apparition. The longest single appearance was on April 30, 1968, when the vision remained from 2:45 a.m. until 5 a.m. The nightly apparition attracted vast crowds of both Copts and Muslims, and was declared a genuine miracle by the Coptic Church. During the year when apparitions visited the small church on Tamambay Street in Zeitoun, thousands came, saw and believed, from the humble to the highest bishops of the Coptic church. They describe in detail what they saw 25 years ago. Father Butros Cayid, brother of Pope Shenouda, presides over the cathedral of Zeitoun. "I saw her with my own eyes. The apparition appeared four hours continually, and all the people were shouting, 'San Maria, San Maria! Our Holy Mother, our Holy Mother!'. Father Butros has described her many times, to the believers and the curious.

vmary2

"In a blue dress, glittering," adds Hermina Amin, deacon of the church. "Sometimes you could see every part of the body. Sometimes she appeared at the window, sometimes the whole figure." Others remember her as a light. "She came only at night," said La'ami Tawfia, volunteer director of church projects. "I saw her once. A light, that was weak. After a while, it grew brighter. She was completely white, her face, her robes, everything" Saraim Wasily was one of the thousands of people who came during the year that the Virgin appeared. Unlike most, who were kept away from the site by police, he was able to watch from his brother's apartment a few dozen meters from the church. "I saw her twice.

vmary6

She was very tall, and she did not stand on the ground. I watched her for more than two hours. She shone more than the moon, all completely white, sometimes with her arms together and sometimes with her arms outstretched. Every night there were doves, and doves, you know, do not fly at night." Despite the police, the street was packed with the faithful and curiosity seekers. "If you wanted to go from this house to the church [across the street], you would take 20 minutes ... There were Muslims and Christians, and everyone was as one, one religion together." His wife interjects with a chuckle, "He was so scared, his hair stood on end." "Not from fear," Wasily responds, finger upraised, "from piety!" Word spread and the faithful came. Foreign visitors and high church officials visited the site and left believing they had seen the Virgin Mary.

vmary3

For a year, the apparition appeared sporadically, never at the same time, accompanied by lights, doves, and stars. Miracles were reported. The Coptic Pope sent an official delegation of bishops to observe the appearances. After seeing the vision walk the rooftops, they solemnly certified that the apparition was genuine. But after two years the visits became almost routine. Distinguished visitors could apply for permission with the patriarch to "Virgin-watch". As winter came, the crowds dwindled, the police re-opened the street, the appearances decreased to an odd star or pigeon, and soon they stopped completely. "She came to remind us that God is with us forever," said Father Butros, "and as a sign of peace, because she was bearing an olive branch. She told us that all the Egyptians will be safe and blessed forever." Others have put the Virgin in her context. She came at a period of crisis in Egyptian history, the 1967 war having vitiated Nasser's pan- Arab appeal. Mary's coming coincided with the return of veiling, the sprouting of beards, and the other signs of the Islamist renaissance.

vmary5

She helped to cement the advent of spiritual over secularist politics. Some anthropologists suggest that Mary's popularity in Egypt is a vestige of the Isis cult, itself an incarnation of primeval mother - goddess worship. Virgin sightings may be among paganism's contributions to monotheistic mysticism. But to Father Butros and his flock, the appearance of the Mother of Jesus in their humble church in Zeitoun, dressed like an icon so that there would be no mistake as to her identity, was heaven's endorsement of all they believed. Archives

Adam Henein by Lara Iskander

Arabic Music by David Scott

Ahmed Askalany's Incredible Palms by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

A Bedouin Dinner in the Sinai by Julia Kaliniak

Cairo's Gold Mine of Used Books Still Offers Treasures by Dr. Maged El-Bialy

Children in Modern Egypt by Catherine C. Harris

Coptic Christians of Egypt, An Overview of the by Lara Iskander and Jimmy Dunn

Egypt's 1960s Remarkable Virgin Mary Sightings by Amargi

Egyptian Arabic Jimmy Dunn writing as Ismail Abaza

Egyptian Food by Joyce Carta

Egyptian Hajj Paintingby Sonny Stengle

The Egyptian Middle Class by Jimmy Dunn

Egyptian Porcelain Center: A New Showcase for Egyptian and World Artists by The Egyptian Government

The Egyptian Wedding by Dr. Maged El-Bialy

Eid: Celebration for the Young and Old by Mohamed Osama

Islam in a Nutshell by Seemi AhmadIslam

Koshary by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

The Legends of the Cretan House by Dr. Maged El-Bialy

Marvelous Melokiyah by Mary Kay Radnich

El Misaharaty: The Ramadan Drummers by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

Modern Egyptian Houses by the Egyptian Government

Modern Egyptian Pottery by the Egyptian Government

Moulids! by Lara Iskander

The Mysteries of Qurna by Sonny Stengle

Naquib Mahfouz's Classic: Bedaya Wa Nihaya, A Review by Adel Murad Naquib Mahfouz (1911-August 30th, 2006)

Never Mind, Just Crossing the Moon By Arnvid Aakre

On Understanding Egypt by Ralph Ellis

Party for the God in Luxor by Jane Akshar

Egypt's Rafat Wagdy by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

Ramadan in Al Hussein Square by Seif Kame

lRamadan in Egypt by Sameh

Ramadan in Korba, Heliopolis by Seif Kamel

Ramadan Lanterns in Egypt by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

The 8th Annual Scupture Symposium for Stone in Aswan by The Government of Egypt with revisions by Jimmy Dunn

The Sebou Ceremony Welcoming a New Born Baby in Egypt by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

Sham el Nessim, Egypt Spring Festival by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

Sheikh Yusuf al-Haggag, His Mosque and Moulid In Luxor by Jane Akshar

Umm Kalthoum by Lara Iskander

You Don't Have to Go to the Khan El-Khaliliby Dr. Maged El-Bialy

The Zar Ceremony by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

Last Updated: June 13th, 2011

Who are we?

Tour Egypt aims to offer the ultimate Egyptian adventure and intimate knowledge about the country. We offer this unique experience in two ways, the first one is by organizing a tour and coming to Egypt for a visit, whether alone or in a group, and living it firsthand. The second way to experience Egypt is from the comfort of your own home: online.