While all in America were watching the 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 God 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, an avowed Marxist. 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.
Moslems who saw the apparitions chanted from the Koran, “Mary, God has chosen thee. And purified thee; He has chosen thee. Above all women.” She was seen accompanied by doves of light in apparitions that lasted from a few minutes to as long as nine hours. Kyrillos VI, the Orthodox patriarch, formed a commission to investigate the apparitions. A number of the commissioners observed plumes of fragrant purple smoke rising from the church at the time of the apparitions and the figure of a woman surrounded by a very bright globe of light accompanied by doves of light. A digitally-enhanced, negative image of one television frame is shown at the top of this page to enable you a see an outline of what was seen by hundreds of thousands in Egypt.
While the appearances at Zietum were silent, the silence spoke volumes to those who came to see and strengthen their faith. The local Coptic Patriarch, Kyrillos VI, publicly announced a year after the apparitions started that he had no doubt that the Mother of God was appearing above the roof of St. Mary’s Coptic Church.
For those who, like Thomas, needed to see for themselves, Mary offered an unequivocal televised demonstration at Zeitun. Yet, because of an unresponsive media and an indifferent world, very few outside of Egypt learned of her astonishing appearances there until well after they had ended.
More recently, the appearance of a woman clothed in light has been observed above the roof of the Church of St. Damian in Shoubra, Egypt, a suburb of Cairo. Starting in 1983 and seen with increasing frequency in the mid-1980’s, the woman was seen by thousands walking above the church bathed in light in apparitions lasting up to five hours. Shenouda III, the head of the Coptic Church at the time, established a commission to investigate the beautiful lady of light. In 1987, the commission concluded:
“Let us thank the Lord for this blessing on the people of Egypt and for the repetition of this phenomenon. We should also like to thank the police and the Department of the Interior for their untiring efforts at maintaining safety and good order among the thousands of people who have spent day and night at prayer. We ask all the people to remain calm. Thus they may worthily receive the blessing of the Virgin, of St. Damian and of all the saints. May God save our country. We pray that he may guide Egypt and all her children to every success. May this phenomenon be a pledge of well-being for them and for all nations.”
As in Zeitun, the silent witness of the Mother of God renewed the faith of tens of thousands and brought both Moslem and Christian to a place of peace where all could pray to the God who loved them enough to remind them of his love by sending His Mother.