Our Lady of Light in Zeitoun, Egypt is number 4 in my countdown of the Top Ten Apparitions of the Virgin Mary.
Many of us now think of Egypt as a Muslim state and, perhaps, the land of the ancient Pharaohs. We forget about the Coptic, Christian faith that came sometime in the 1st century AD, long before the arrival of the Arab invaders (around 641 AD.) Christ never set foot in Europe or the Americas, but he did live with his parents, Mary and Joseph, in Egypt. Egypt was the haven to which the holy family fled when Herod ordered the killing of first born Jewish sons in the holy land.
The apostle Mark, widely acknowledged to be the first to write a gospel, was born in Libya in North Africa. He returned to Africa soon after Christ’s death to begin preaching in Alexandria, Egypt. Thus the Coptic church was born, and it continues (although persecuted) to this day. Members of the Coptic faith are extremely devoted to the Blessed Mother. Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise us that one of the most spectacular apparitions of the Virgin Mary took place in Zeitoun (also Zeitun) Egypt.
I’m just surprised that this apparition of the Virgin Mary is not a great deal more famous!
You can find out more about the Coptic Church here:
On April 2, 1968, the Virgin Mary began to appear, surrounded by a glowing light, above the Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Mary in Zeitoun. She continued to appear for over 2 years and was seen by millions of people from all different religions. Why didn’t we learn about this one in Catholic school? Is it because the Catholic Church is perceived as more important than the Coptic? Is it because it happened in Egypt and not Europe? Or is it a case of dueling popes? After all, the Coptic church has their own bishops and popes and they get to wear even fancier clothing than the Catholic popes and bishops. While the Catholic Pope is stuck with a choice between the yarmulke/beanie or a kind of fancy chef’s hat, the Coptic pope can choose between a silk turban or a crown. He even gets a red velvet cape with gold trim.
But, back to the Virgin Mary. She was seen sometimes for minutes, but other times for hours, and by huge throngs of people including Jews, Evangelical Christian Ministers, Muslims, Catholic nuns and, even Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser! She was photographed by hoards of people and even videotaped. Her apparition was investigated by the police, the Vatican and the Jesuits, but no non-supernatural explanation was ever found for her appearances. Watch the Youtube video of Our Lady’s apparition in Zeitoun (below) if you want to know more about this.
Youtube Video Our Lady of Zeitoun
I found one account (in an online book) that said that the site of this apparition, St. Mary’s church in Zeitun (sic,) was built around 1924 by a man whose family lived nearby. He was going through a difficult time in his life, and he claimed that the Virgin Mary appeared to him in dreams or visions and asked him to build her a church on his family’s land. She promised that she would bless the church he built in 50 years.
You can find the online book with more information about that here:
Coptic St. Mark icon – Wikipedia
Here, once again, we have proof that Our Lady can pretty much do anything she wants, and she appears to any of us who need her. She’s not concerned with dogma and judgmental displays of supernatural power. She’s with us, watching over us, curing us, loving us. She does like to have all those churches and chapels dedicated to her but, why shouldn’t she? It’s the least that we can do for our Mother – build her a place where she can visit us.
Mary has also appeared in several other locations in Egypt. I think it’s safe to say that she remembers that country fondly for sheltering her and her newborn son. I have one word for the Coptic Church, though; merchandising! How do you have an apparition this great and you don’t have any holy cards, medals, DVDs, books, candles, t-shirts or anything for sale? You’re not doing this right Coptic people. I know that you invented monasticism, and that’s fine, but even monks sell bread, honey, wine and printer toner. Since your priests can marry, I suggest you begin your marketing plan by asking your wives what products to create.