Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Cairo Egypt Zeitoun The Great Aparition of Mary the Holy Mother

Zeitoun, Egypt (1968)

History

In 1958 Egypt united with Syria to form the United Arab Republic, although the Syrian revolt in 1961 soon led to its dissolution.

Even so, in 1961 Egypt embarked on a program of industrialization, chiefly through Soviet technical and economic aid. Both industry and agriculture were almost completely nationalized by the end of 1962.

There was a fear among democratic governments that Egypt might become a Soviet satellite. President Gamal Abdal Nasser set about to make Egypt the undisputed leader of a united Arab world — attacking, in intense propaganda campaigns, other Arab governments that resisted Egypt’s leadership.

His most effective rallying cry for Arab unity was his denunciations of Israel calling for its total extinction. This rallying cry dominated Middle East politics between 1962 and 1967.

Meanwhile, Egyptian military might continue to increase with the acquisition of powerful modern weapons, many supplied by the USSR.

Various militant eruptions ensued, with worldwide impact. In 1967, Nasser assumed near absolute powers by taking over the premiership of the Arab Socialist Union, as Egypt was then called.

International fears increased that Egypt might become fully aligned with the dreaded Soviet Union. Indeed, after the sad war with Israel of 1967, Nasser received a massive infusion of military and economic aid from the Soviet Union.

The Western superpowers were quite worried. Such was the state of affairs in 1968. Zeitoun is a suburb of Cairo. Although the population of Cairo is Moslem, there is also a large Coptic minority in the city, as there is throughout Egypt. In ancient times, the city which became modern Cairo was known as On, or Heliopolis, the latter term Greek for “the City of the Sun.” 
The area of Heliopolis then became known as Mataria, which became the modern town of Zeitoun. According to Christian tradition, Mataria was the place in Egypt to which the Holy Family fled to escape Herod’s attempts to kill the newborn Messiah (Matt. 2:13-18). There once had been a shrine known as St. Mary’s Church built, and several times rebuilt, on the spot the Holy Family had found shelter. 

At some point the shrine to the Holy Mother disappeared altogether. In 1925 a member of the Khalil family experienced a “revelation” that the Mother of God would for one year appear in the church to be built there, at the same site. 

The family donated the land and built the new Coptic St. Mary’s Church. But nothing more happened until about forty-six years later, surely when few remembered why the church was built in the first place. On April 2, 1968, two car mechanics were working in a city garage at Tomanbey Street and Khalil Lane across from the church.

One of them happened to glance at the church and was startled to see a “nun” dressed in white standing on top of the dome. He and his colleague thought the nun was going to jump. One ran to get the priest, the other to get the police and an emergency squad. A large crowd gathered to watch these events — and began commenting on the nun’s translucent white radiance.
The emergency squad arrived. The crowd increased, and many watched and shouted at the nun not to jump but to come down safely. But by then the nun began to disappear, and ultimately vanished before everyone’s eyes. The figure atop the church was by many accepted as an appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The appearance caused a small ripple, but life soon went on as usual. Seven days later, though, the figure was again seen atop the Church of St. Mary’s. The luminous figure continued to appear at intervals until some time in 1970 — usually to the awed excitement of as many as 250,000 who gathered to witness her.

Many came armed with cameras. Startling images of the apparition and other phenomena were caught by many, but nothing unusual appeared on other photographs. It soon became apparent that some could see only indistinct luminosities, and that some saw nothing at all. But the vast majority could see very well.

The figure took to walking, or floating, around the dome, descending often to the roof’s edges. As she disappeared from one side and appeared on another, loud shouts of joy and awe arose from the masses on the side from which she could be seen. It wasn’t long before the crowds of pilgrims and witnesses achieved massive proportions. The human and motor traffic was tremendous.

Shortly after the apparitions commenced, the garage across the street and other nearby buildings were demolished to make room for parking lots to accommodate the visitors. Father Jerome Palmer, an American priest who witnessed the apparition many times, recorded that it was usually heralded by mysterious lights, bursts so brilliant, flashing, and scintillating that he compared them to sheet lightning.

These phenomena preceded the appearance by approximately a quarter of an hour, sometimes appearing above the church and sometimes in “clouds” that formed to cover it like a canopy.

The clouds were especially awesome, since clouds are seldom seen in Cairo. On one occasion, streams of incense poured through the church and settled over the throngs standing outside of it. The fragrance was extraordinary. Often luminous dovelike or birdlike forms glided through the air and sky around the apparition.

Their wings did not move. They appeared and disappeared in an instant. The Lady herself did not stand motionless. In addition to walking around the top of the church, she often bowed and greeted the throngs below.

She bent from the waist and moved her arms in greetings and benedictions and blessings. Thousands of people simultaneously knelt to receive them. The duration of the apparitions varied from a few minutes to sometimes over four hours. On the night of June 8, 1968, the Lady remained visible from 9:00 p.m. until 4:30 a.m. The apparitions continued at intervals through 1970.

This was a nonspeaking apparition, but one of glorious magnitude. Many photos were taken. Among those I’ve seen, in one the Holy Mother is floating near one of the church’s cupolas, suspended in air. No facial features are visible, but the head is clearly surrounded by a nimbus or luminous radiation. The arms and hands are clearly visible. She is sheathed in luminous white light, presumably a gown.
In another photo, a glowing white “bird” appears above her nimbus. In other photos, her head is bowed forward, her hands before her together as if in prayer. In yet other photos, the dome, cupolas, and outline of the church are suffused with auras, especially the crosses atop the building.

There is no other color perceptible but the light, which was described by everyone as either whitish-blue or bluish-white. Sometimes the auras descended to incorporate the hundreds of witnesses close to the church’s walls.

These were considered fortunately blessed, and so a crowd was always pressed up against the church walls. The Coptic religious weekly Watani was the first to publish information about the apparitions in a spread of two pages each week. The paper also printed weekly accounts of some of the outstanding cures and miracles which took place among the pilgrims and witnesses.

Within a short time, media worldwide, including the New York Times and major news magazines, were carrying news of the apparition and many photos of it. People from all over the world arrived in increasing numbers — and most of them saw.

Sometimes the crowds numbered 250,000 people a night. With this exquisite apparition, repeated many times, the skeptics’ demand of an incontestable photograph of an apparition of the Holy Mother was met, and met many times over. If incontestable photos are accepted as evidence of facts, then the photos of the repeated appearances of the Holy Mother at Zeitoun must be accepted as recording a factual apparition.

 And, indeed, those photos permit a positive reassessment of all the earlier major apparitions of the Holy Mother. However, skeptics at Zeitoun wouldn’t give up easily. Some of them held that the “Russians are doing it [projecting the image] by means of Telstar.”

But even if such projection was possible via a space satellite, why the anti-religious Communist Russians would wish to reinforce and support religious faith would have been something of a mystery. But this kind of bewildering “logic” has always been characteristic of skeptical attitudes toward the great apparitions. The impact of this series of apparitions was tremendous. As stated by Bishop Samuel (then Coptic Bishop of Public, Ecumenical and Social Services):

 The apparition was for all mankind, since belief in spiritual powers these days is weak. God is trying by all means to help mankind to build up its faith again. We [the Coptic churches] are happy, not only because of the apparitions, but also because of the great phenomena which accompanied them— of cures, of strengthening the faith, of prayerful living. The Copts moved expeditiously to “investigate” the apparitions, which, it would seem, hardly needed investigating.

On April 23, 1968, only twenty-one days after the apparitions had started, His Holiness Anba Kyrillos VI, Patriarch of the See of St. Mark in Africa and the Near East, formed a provisional delegation for verifying the matter. The report of the delegation was very soon published.

The report began with an account of the apparitions and expressed deep faith in their validity. “These appearances have been accompanied by two great blessings: the first being that of engendering and strengthening faith, and the second is the miraculous cures of desperate cases.” Some of the medically confirmed cures included those of urinary bladder cancer, cancer of the thyroid gland, permanent blindness, deafness, permanent paralysis of limbs, hernias, high blood pressure, bacteriological and viral infections, and mental derangement.

This was one of the most spectacular events in modern Egyptian history, but it is largely forgotten today. In any event, Gamal Abdal Nasser suddenly died in 1970.
Vice President Anwar al-Sadat succeeded him as president. Sadat followed a modified version of Nasser’s hard line toward Israel, but commenced work toward peace accords which has been in process ever since, although another war broke out in 1973. In July 1972, however, Sadat suddenly ousted all Soviet military personnel stationed in Egypt and placed Soviet bases and equipment under Egyptian control. This represented a reversal of a twenty-year trend of increasing dependence on the USSR a reversal which caused the Western superpowers immeasurable relief and which may actually have marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War. Whether the gorgeous appearances atop the Church of St. Mary’s had anything to do with this well, no one so far has attempted such an analysis.

Bibliography

from The Great Aparition of Mary by Ingo Swann

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