Apparition at Zeitoun
From 1968 to 1971, at least one million people saw a luminous female figure atop the roof of St. Mary’s (Orthodox) Coptic Church in Zeitoun (a suburb of Cairo), and there are countless photos to prove it.
The first apparition at Zeitoun was recorded on the evening of April 2, 1968, when a Muslim bus mechanic named Farouk Mohammed Atwa, who worked across the street from St. Mary's Coptic Church in Zeitoun, supposedly thought he saw a woman attempting suicide by jumping from the structure.
Two other men also noticed a white figure on the top of the church and the sighting was reported to the police. A crowd gathered on the site and the police attempted to disperse it. According to the police, the sighting was just a reflection of the light from the street lamps. However, the crowds reportedly viewed the sighting as a clear apparition of the Virgin Mary, and so, the attempts by the police to disperse the crowd were unsuccessful. The event itself ended after a few minutes.
One week later on April 9 the phenomenon reoccurred, again lasting for only a few minutes. After that time apparitions became more frequent, sometimes two-three times a week, for several years, ending in 1971. According to Coptic tradition, the site is one of the locations where the Holy family stayed during their flight into Egypt.
Sometimes Mary was seen accompanied by St. Joseph or cradling Jesus, who appeared to be about twelve years old. Many recall the scent of incense. As in Lourdes, many miraculous healings confirmed by non-Christian medical professionals were recorded among those present in Zeitoun durng the years of the apparitions, as were numerous conversions. Interestingly, Mary said nothing at Zeitoun, choosing to communicate through silence.
Why did she appear here? It is hard to say. She did not speak, but often would be seen blessing those that would visit, sometimes with an olive branch which is a sign of peace. Perhaps it was a sign to remind all those present that she and the Holy Family are still with us or perhaps it was to inspire peace, especially in Egypt who year over year seems to need it very much.
It's interesting to also note that Muslims hold Mary in very high regard even though they deem Jesus to be merely a prophet of Islam. She was seen to kneel down before a cross on the church roof; significant, since Muslims deny Jesus’ crucifixion and many Muslims were present to witness this.
Though we can only wonder about why our Lady appeared there, one thing is for sure: the photos taken are truly awe-inspiring and leave you curious and wanting to know more. Pretty remarkable to see!
(Note: Our Lady of Zeitoun is approved by the Coptic Catholic Church which is in full communion with the Catholic Church).
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