The Apparitions at Zeitoun, Cairo
The Virgin Mary's church at El-Zeitoun was built by the late Tawfeek Khalil Bey, under the supervision of the Italian architect Leomingelli in 1924, and was consecrated by Anba Athanosyous of Beni Sweif in 1925
It is said that the Virgin Mary appeared to the late Khalil Pasha Ibrahim and requested him to build a church dedicated to her in this place. She gave her word that she would appear there fifty years later. And on April 2, 1968 she did just that, and many times afterwards.
There is a tradition that during the Holy Family's flight into Egypt to avoid Herod's massacre of the young children, that they rested for a time in this area. A Norwegian lady, hearing of the Virgin's appearance at Zeitoun, sent a letter saying that Our Lady had appeared to her in her bedroom in Oslo, and told her that she had appeared in her church in Zeitoun, in the place where she and the baby Christ had rested.
Zeitoun is a suburb of Cairo, now thickly populated. Tumanbay Street, where the Coptic Church is located, is a main street of Zeitoun. In April 1968, opposite to the church was a big garage for the Public Transport Authority's buses.
On April 2, 1968 an hour-and-a-half after sunset, the mechanics and drivers at the Garage heard a commotion in the street, and came running to see what was wrong.
They saw a young lady dressed in white, walking about on the Church dome. They thought she was about to throw herself down, so they cried out to her to be careful and to wait for assistance.
Then some of the pedestrians who were watching, recognising the figure, began to cry out "Virgin Mary! Virgin Mary!"
The garage workmen were all Moslems, and were astonished as the Virgin moved about on the curved dome (as no human being could have done), and bowed and knelt before the Cross.
The late Rev Father Boutros Gayed was the rector of the Virgin Mary Church in Zeitoun at the time and wrote that he had had the privilege of witnessing Mary's apparitions over the domes of the Virgin's Church at Zeitoun.
On April 10, 1968, Rev Father Costantin, the priest of the Church also had the same privilege.
The apparitions occurred over more than twelve months, and were seen, and photographed by many thousands of all races and creeds.
Sometimes Our Lady appears in a bust, at other times in full figure, wearing a full-length dress, and with a halo around her head. She bowed to the congregation and to the crowds in front of the Church. She blessed them, sometimes with her hands, sometimes with a nod of the head. Sometimes she stood in the attitude of one praying. She knelt in front of the Cross and the church dome. Sometimes she was accompanied by bright luminous 'clouds' in the shape of doves or pigeons, which flew about all over the church domes.
Some priests of high rank were delegated by His Holiness Anba Kyrillos VI, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the Holy See of St Mark in all Africa and the Near East (at that time) to research and investigate the apparitions on the spot.
They stayed there for several nights making enquiries and investigations until they all saw the Virgin Mary with their own eyes, moving about on the dome.
The apparitions were not fleeting ones, they lasted for quite some time, so that everybody present could get a good look - on April 30,1968 the apparition lasted for two hours.
Many thousands of people, including foreigners belonging to different religions and sects, religious organisations, scientific and professional people, and the ordinary man in the street, have seen, and reported what they have seen. Their descriptions as to Our Lady's appearance, the forms under which she appears, the times and places, have all been identical. Many newspapers carried stories and photographs.
The 'Egyptian Gazette' of April 11, 1969 reported:
Although a year now has elapsed since the apparition was first reported, yet it is still appearing. The most recent report of Her appearance was on Friday April 4, when she was seen for thirty minutes between the central dome of the church and the Cross situated above the church fence, The apparition was seen nodding to a large number of people who stood outside the church.
On three other recent occasions the apparition was seen and each time was preceded by the appearance of shining white clouds shaped like doves, and followed by a white light which covered the church.
His Beatitude Kyrollos VI, the Pope of Alexandria and All Africa and the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, made a statement on the occasion of the first anniversary of the apparition. This was read out at the ceremony held at the church."
Many patients suffering from incurable diseases have been miraculously cured on visiting the Coptic Church at Zeitoun. The papal Committee has examined the cures medically and scientifically. Doctors were amazed, and have officially reported that there was no medical explanation for the cures they had examined.Some examples follow: