Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Virgin Mary in Egypt

According to the Scripture, Jesus Christ lived in Palestine, and the only other country he travelled to (as a young child) was Egypt. The Holy Family, throughout their stay in Egypt, which lasted for about three-and-half years, moved through many towns in Upper and Lower Egypt.

Many of the details of the journey of the Holy Family in Egypt are chronicled in a Mimar (manuscript) by Pope Theophilus, 23rd Patriarch of Alexandria (384-412 A.D.), who received these details during an apparition of the Holy Virgin Mary. Other sources of information include accounts by 2nd and 3rd century Greek and Jewish writers/philosophers/historians.

Many churches and monasteries were built in the locations which have been blessed by the visit of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Virgin Mary, and St. Joseph the carpenter. Many miracles took place in these locations during the Holy Family visit 2000 years ago (and continue to occur to this day). These Coptic churches are considered the oldest and among the holiest of all churches in Christendom.

Among the places visited by the Holy Family are Zeitun in Cairo, where the Holy Virgin Mary also appeared in 1968, and Assiut in Upper Egypt, where She again appeared in 2000

In one small street in el-Matarya district of today's Cairo (Eid Street/Shek El-Te'eban Street), all kinds of bread and bakery cannot be leavened up to this day, since the Virgin Mary first visited that place with the Holy Family 2000 years ago and they were refused bread and cast away. This is an ongoing miracle that anyone can witness till this very day. Bread leavens normally in all surrounding streets.

  • Zeitun (noted for its Marian apparitions. It has been suggested that during the Holy Family's sojourn in Egypt, at one point they stopped at this site, where the Coptic Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary currently stands.)

The Holy Family In Egypt

The advent of the Holy Family to Egypt, seeking refuge, is an event of the utmost significance in Egypt, long history.

Moved by the spirit of prophecy, Hosea foresaw the flight from Bethlehem where there was no safe place for the Christ Child to lay his head, and the eventual return of the holy refugees from Their sanctuary in Egypt, where Jesus had found a place in the hearts of the Gentiles, when he uttered God's words: "Out of Egypt have I called My Son". (Hosea 11:1)

In the Biblical Book of Isaiah, the prophet provides us with a divinely inspired prediction of the effect the holy Infant was to have on Egypt and the Egyptians: "Behold the Lord rides on a swift cloud, and will come into Egypt and the idols of Egypt will totter at His Presence and the heart of Egypt will melt in the midst of it". (Isaiah 19:1)

 But, in their escape from the infanticidal fury of King Herod, the Holy Family understandably had to avoid the beaten tracks altogether, and to pursue unknown paths, guided by God and His Angel. They picked their way, day after day, through hidden valleys and across uncharted plateaus in the (then) rugged wastelands of Sinai, enduring the scorching heat of the sun by day and the bitter cold of the desert nights, preserved from the threat of wild beasts and savage tribesmen, their daily sustenance miraculously provided, the all-too-human fears of the young Mother for her Infant allayed by the faith that infused her with His birth.

And so they arrived, at last, safely, for God had pre-ordained that Egypt should be the refuge for the One who was to bring the message of peace and love to mankind.

The tortuous trails they followed in their passage across Sinai, and their subsequent travels within Egypt, are chronicled by Pope Theophilus, 23rd Patriarch of Alexandria (384-412 AD). He testifies, in his celebrated annals that on the eve of the 6th of Hathor (the Coptic month corresponding roughly with November), after long prayer, the Holy Virgin revealed herself to him and, after relating the details of the Holy Family's journey to, in, and from Egypt, bade him record what he had seen and heard.

It is a source which no Christian believer would question.
Besides, it is a virtual certainty that, at a time when happenings of a momentous or historical nature were transmitted by word of mouth from one generation to the next, the account of Pope Theophilus' vision confirmed the oral tradition of supernatural occurrences which accompanied the arrival of a wondrous Child in the towns and villages of Egypt some 400 years earlier.

According to the sources of the Coptic Church, chief among which is the vision documented by Pope Theophilus, and recorded in the Coptic Senexarium the Holy Family proceeded from Bethlehem to Gaza, and then to El-Zaraniq (also known as Floussiat), some 37 kms west of El-Arish; then they threaded their way along northern Sinai until they reached Farma (ancient Pelusium) mid-way between El-Alish and present-day Port Said. It was their last stop in Sinai; and with the next leg of their journey they put the perils of the wilderness behind them.
Tel Basta or Basta which they now enter, is a short distance from Zagazig, the main town in the Sharqiah Governorate about 100 kms north-east of Cairo. Here, Jesus caused a water spring to well up from the ground, and His presence caused the idols to crumble, as foretold by the prophets of old. The townsfolk, in consequence, turned malevolent and aggressive, whereupon the Holy Family turned their backs on the town and headed southwards.

The Holy Family At The Town of Mostorod

In due course, they reached Mostorod (which came to be called, in those days, 'Al Mahamma') only about 10 kms away from Cairo. 'Al Mahamma' means 'the Bathing Place', a name given to the town because the Virgin Mary bathed the Christ Child and washed his clothes. It is worthy of note that, eventually, on their way back to Palestine, the Holy Family stopped once more at Mostorod and, this time, caused a spring to gush from the earth which still flows forth to the present day.


From Mostorod, the Holy Family made their way north-eastwards to Belbeis (ancient Philippos), back in Sharqiah Governorate, and at a distance of about 55 kms from Cairo. They rested there in the shade of a tree which came to be called, "The Virgin Mary's Tree'.


Having left their mark on Belbeis, the Holy Family set off in a north-westerly direction and, reaching the small township of Meniet Samannoud (known also as Meniet Genah), they crossed the Nile to the city of Samanoud (or Jemnoty) in the Delta, where the local population received them with a kindness and hospitality that earned them deserved blessing. There is in Samannoud, to this day, a large granite trough which, according to local belief, was used by the Virgin for kneading dough, and a water-well which the Christ Child Himself hallowed.


The Coptic name of the town, 'Pekha-Issous', (vernacularized to Lysous) means, 'the foot of Jesus'; for the Holy Child's foot-print was marked, here, in bas-relief on a rock. The rock was preserved, but hidden for centuries for fear of robbery, and only unearthed again 13 years ago.

The natural course of the Holy Family's journey from Samannoud to Sakha would have taken them through many of the towns and cities now lying in both the Governorates of Gharbia and Kafr El-Sheikh and, according to some folk traditions, through the Belqas wastelands as well.


Their trail from Sakha, is recorded in the documentation of Pope Theophilus' vision, and attested to by Coptic practice in the Christian era. For it was to Wadi el-Natroun (Natroun Valley) that they now came, after crossing the Rosetta branch of the Nile to the western Delta and heading south into Wadi el-Natroun (then called Al Asqeet) in the Western Desert of Egypt. In the earliest decades of Christianity, the desert expanses of Wadi el-Natroun became the site of anchoretic settlement and, later, of many monasteries, in spritiual commemoration of the Holy Family's passage through the Valley.


Eventually, they left the desert behind them and made their way southwards, crossing the Nile to its eastern bank, and heading for Matariyah and Ain Shams (ancient Heliopolis, the site of the oldest 'university' in history called since earliest Pharaonic times, 'On'). Both these adjacent districts are outlying suburbs of present day Cairo, only 10 kms or so from the city center.


At the time of the Holy Family's arrival there, Ain Shams was home to a large Jewish community, who had erected a temple the Synagogue of Unias, - for their worship. In Matariyah, a tree still stands to this day, still regularly visited, called "Mary's Tree", for the Family is believed to have rested in its shade. Here, too, the Infant Jesus caused water to flow from a spring, from which He drank and blessed, and in which the Virgin washed His clothes. She poured the washing water on to the ground, and from that spot, the fragrant balsam plant blossomed: besides the healing and pain-soothing properties of this balm, its essence is used in the preparation of the scents and perfumes of which the holy Chrism is composed.

Setting out next towards Old Cairo, the Holy Family rested for a while in Zeitoun, on their way; then proceeded along a course which traverses what are now crowded, bustling quarters of Cairo, within which the serene landmarks of an earlier Coptic heritage still stand, marking the paths the Holy Family followed. A listing of these landmarks, at this point, may be of pertinent interest.



  •     The Church of the Virgin Mary in Zuweila Alley.
  •     The Church of St George the Martyr.
  •     The Church of St. Mercurios Abu Sefein (he of the Two Swords).
  •     The Convent of the Virgin Mary.
  •     The Convent of St George.

  • The Cathedral of St Mark in Azbekieh.
  • Numerous churches attached to the Cairo headquarters of many of Egypt's monasteries.
  • The Church of the Virgin Mary (known by the name Ezbaweya).
  • Virgin Mary Church of Al-Damsheria
The area now called Old Cairo, known as Misr El Kadima, is among the most important locations visited by the Holy Family where the spiritual impact of their presence is most felt still; though their stay was brief, for the Governor of what was then Fustat enraged by the tumbling down of idols at Jesus' approach sought to kill the Child. But they took shelter from his wrath in a cave above which, in later years, the Church of Abu Serga (St Sergious) was built. This, and the whole area of the Fort of Babylon, is a destination of pilgrimage not only for the Egyptians but for Christians from around the world. An air of piety and devotion pervades the whole district

Here, too, it is useful to list the sites which visitors to the Fortress of Babylon section of Old Cairo take in:

  • The Church of Abu Sefein.
  •     The Church of Abu Serga and the Crypt of the Holy Family beneath it.
  •     Al-Muallaqa (Hanging Church), dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Patriarchal See of the Coptic Church in the early centuries.
  •     The Church of St Barbara.
  •     The Church of St George (in the Palace of Waxworks).
  •     The Church of the Virgin, identified by its alternative name of Qasriet Al-Rihan (Basil Pot).
  •     The Convent of St George.
  •     The Coptic Museum and the ramparts of the Fortress of Babylon.
  •     The Greek Orthodox Church of St George.
  •     The Jewish Synagogue of Ben Ezra.

The Fustat section of Old Cairo, which lies west of the Mosque of Amr Ibn'l Aas, includes:

  • The ancient alter of the Church of Abu Serga
  • The ancient alter of the Church of Abu Serga
  •     The Church of St Mercurios Abu Sefein (he of the Two Swords).
  •     The Church of Abba Shenouda.
  •     The Church of the Virgin Mary of Al-Demshiria.
  •     The Convent of Abu Sefein.
  •     The Church of the Virgin of Babylon El Darag.
  •     The Church of Saints Abakir and Yohanna, The Church of Prince Tadros Al Mishriqi.
  •     The Church of the Archangel Mikhail (known also as Al Malak AI-Qibli-or "Southern Angel').
  •     The Church of St. Mena in Zahraa Misr El Kadima.


After their short, but all-too-felt, stay in Old Cairo, the Holy Family moved in a southerly direction, reaching the modern Cairo suburb of Maadi which, in earliest Pharaonic times, was an outlying district of Memphis, the capital of Egypt then; and, at Maadi, they boarded a sailing-boat which carried them up the Nile towards southern Egypt. The historic church built upon the spot from which they embarked, also dedicated to the Virgin, is further identified by the denominative, 'Al-Adaweya', the Virgin's Church 'of the Ferry'. (In fact, the name of that now modern suburb, Maadi, derives from the Arabic word which means 'the Crossing Point').

The stone steps leading down to the River's bank, and believed to have been used by the Holy Family, are accessible to pilgrims through the Church courtyard.

An event of miraculous importance occurred on Friday the 3rd of the Coptic month of Baramhat the 12th of March 1976 AD. A Holy Bible of unknown provenance was carried by the lapping ripples of the Nile to the bank below the Church. It was open to the page of Isaiah 19:25 the page declaring, "Blessed be Egypt My People". The Bible is now behind glass in the Sanctuary of the Virgin in the Church for all to see.


The sailboat docked at the village of Deir Al-Garnous (the later site of the Monastery of Arganos) 10 kms west of Ashnein el Nassara (a small village near the town of Maghagha). Outside the western wall of the Church of the Virgin there, a deep well is believed to have provided the Holy Family with the water they needed.


They went on from there to a spot later named Abai Issous, "the Home of Jesus", the site of present-day Sandafa village, east of Al-Bahnassa which, itself, stand some 17 kms west of the town of Beni Mazar.


On towards the south they went from Bahnassa to Samalout and crossed the Nile again from that town to the spot on the east bank of the River where the Monastery of the Virgin now stands upon Gabal El-Tair ('Bird Mountain') east of Samalout, 2 kms south of Meadeyat Beni Khaled. It is known by this name (Gabal El-Tair) because thousands of birds gather there. The Holy Family rested in the cave which is now located inside the ancient church there. Gabal El-Tair is also called Gabal El-Kaf ('Palm Mountain'). Coptic tradition maintains that, as the Holy Family rested in the shade of the Mountain, Jesus stretched His little hand to hold back a rock which was about to detach itself from the mountain-side and fall upon them. The imprint of His palm is still visible.

When they resumed their travels, the Holy Family passed a laurel tree a stone's throw south of Gabal El-Tair, along the pathway flanking the Nile and leading from the Mountain to Nazlet Ebeid and the New Minia Bridge of today. It is claimed that this tree bowed to worship the Lord Christ glory be to Him as He was passing. The configuration of the Tree is, indeed, unique: all its branches incline downwards, trailing on the ground, then turn upwards again, covered in a cloak of green leaves. They call the tree, Al Abed 'The Worshipper'.


Once more crossing the Nile, back to its west bank, the Holy Family traveled southwards to the town of Al-Ashmounein or Hermopolis Magna but it seems that they did not tarry long there. Leaving behind them the rubble of fallen idols, they continued still in a southerly direction, for another 20 kms or so to Dairout Al-Sharif (which, like Al-Ashmounein, had an alternative Greek name: Philes); and thence to Qussqam (or Qost-Qoussia). Here, too, the recorded events testify that the townsfolk were infuriated when the stone statue of their local deity cracked and fell, and evicted the Holy Family from the town. A historically recorded incident dating to that period refers to the devastation of Qussqam, and Coptic tradition asserts that the ruin that befell the town was the consequence of its violent rejection of the gentle visitors.

We have an entirely different story in the warm welcome with which the holy refugees were met at their next stop at Meir (or Meira) only 7 kms west of Qoussia. Here, they found only consideration and hospitality wherever they went, for which treatment the town and its people were signally blessed.


Now it was time for the Holy Family to set out for what is, arguably, the most meaningful destination of all in the land of Egypt, the place where there would be "an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt". Gabal (Mount) Qussqam, which takes its name from the town nearby that was laid waste, is 327 kms south of Cairo, and stand in the Governorate of Assiut. The Monastery of Al-Muharraq nestles against the western foothills of the Mountain. It was built around the area where the Holy Family remained just over six months. Their time was spent mainly in a cave which became, in the Coptic era, the altar of the Church of Virgin Mary, built at the western end of the Monastery compound. The altar stone was the resting place of the Child Jesus during the months He dwelt there.

The whole area the Monastery and its surroundings is redolent of the Coptic Christian ethos. So hallowed are its intimations, that the Copts of Egypt named it the Second Bethlehem. It was here, at the very spot where Al-Muharraq Monastery stands, that the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, and said "Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for they are dead which sought the young Child's life" (Matthew 2:20&21).


And so they set forth on the return journey. The route they took deviated slightly from the one by which they had come. It took them to Mount Dronka, 8 kms south-west of the city of Assiut, and their blessing of this location was commemorated in the Christian era by the building of the mountain-top Monastery of Dronka. Eventually, they arrived at Old Cairo, then Matariyah, and on to Mahamma, retracing more or less their steps on their outward journey across Sinai to Palestine.

Subsequent Biblical history says it all: at the end, they arrived home, Joseph's old house, in the small town of Nazareth, in Galilee, in the land of Palestine, from where the message of Christ would, in the fullness of time, be heard.

The whole journey, from the initial flight from Bethlehem to the return to Nazareth lasted over three years. They had covered something like 2000 kms; their means of transport a weak beast of burden and the occasional sailboat on the Nile. But for much of the way, the delicate Mother and the rugged old Carpenter must have trudged on foot, enduring the fierce summer heat and the biting winter's cold, suffering the pangs of hunger and the parching affliction of thirst like hunted outlaws. It was a journey of indescribable agony and anguish which the Child Jesus, His Virgin Mother and the Sainted Joseph bore with inner joy, and survived, for the sake of mankind.


On the 24th day of the Coptic month of Bashans, which corresponds to the 1st of June, the Coptic Church celebrates the entry of the Lord Jesus Christ into the land of Egypt. On that day, the churches throughout the length and breadth of the land that gave the Holy Family shelter resound with the words of the Doxology:

"Rejoice, Oh Egypt; Oh, people of Egypt and all ye Children of Egypt who live within its borders, rejoice and lift up your hearts, for the Lover of all mankind, He who has been before the beginning of ages, has come to you". 

The Apparitions Of The Virgin Mary In Zeitoun, 
To Millions In The Coptic Orthodox Church
Named After Her,
Cairo, Egypt (1968-1970)

For more than a year, starting on the eve of Tuesday, April 2, 1968, the Blessed Holy Virgin Saint Mary, Mother of God, appeared in different forms over the domes of the Coptic Orthodox Church named after Her at Zeitoun, Cairo, Egypt. The late Rev. Father Constantine Moussa was the church priest at the time of these apparitions. The apparitions lasted from only a few minutes up to several hours and were sometimes accompanied by luminous heavenly bodies shaped like doves and moving at high speeds. The apparitions were seen by millions of Egyptians and foreigners. Among the witnesses were Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Moslems, Jews and non-religious people from all walks of life. The sick were cured and blind persons received their sight, but most importantly large numbers of unbelievers were converted...

Starting on the eve of the 2nd of April, 1968, these apparitions took many forms including:
  1. The first was in full luminous stature. The Virgin appeared wearing a long robe extending to below Her feet. Sometimes She was surrounded by bright stars, and at other times She had a shawl about Her head, and Her hands were extended forward. At times, She was seen blessing the people who gathered to observe the miracle by waving Her hands and nodding Her holy head. At other times, She had an olive branch in Her hand. (Zeitoun is a transliterated Arabic word meaning olives. See Genesis 8:11)
  2. The Virgin used to walk over the church, especially over the middle dome, and to bow prayerfully in front of the cross that shone, then, with a bright light.
  3. She sometimes made Her apparition with the Babe Jesus Christ in Her arms. It is not strange to see the Child Jesus Christ in an apparition; heavenly apparitions may take forms known to us, so that we can understand them.
  4. The apparitions of the Virgin were sometimes accompanied with, or preceded by, the appearance of white pigeons that used to circle the church. Sometimes a lightning-like light appeared. It shone for a while and then disappeared. At other times, a luminous mist spread everywhere and it gave off the strong pleasant scent of incense that pervaded the whole place.
 Unusual phenomena taking place at the time of the apparitions:
  1. The Doves: They differ from the normal pigeons in that they are able to fly at night; they are also bigger in size and different in shape. They appear from nowhere, do not flap their wings as they fly and disappear as they came.
  2. The Stars and Glowing Balls of Light: They are bigger than the usual stars. They used to descend quickly on the church. Sometimes they were spherical in shape or like lanterns.
  3. The Light: It used to appear over the domes. Its colour was orange or light blue. It used to encircle the church like a sacred halo.
  4. The Cross: Though opaque, the cross used to glow over the big dome with a phosphorescent light. Sometimes, a very white cross appeared over one of the domes or over the Virgin Herself when She made Her apparitions.
  5. The Incense: It used to permeate the place with its strong pleasing smell and white colour.
  6. The Clouds: Used to appear over the domes, sometimes taking the form of the Virgin.
 August 21, 1982 (around 8:10 PM), the Blessed Holy Virgin Mary appeared in a Coptic Orthodox

On the evening of Saturday, August 21, 1982 (around 8:10 PM), the Blessed Holy Virgin Mary appeared in a Coptic Orthodox church named after Her and located in El-Gomhourya street (also known as El-Kenissa street, i.e., the church's street) in the city of Edfu (Diocese of Aswan). The apparitions continued till the end of November 1982 and were confirmed by HG Bishop Hedra of Aswan.

Our Lady of Warraq Friday 11 December 2009

Location Giza, Egypt


 Our Lady of Warraq is believed, by some, to be a mass apparition of the Virgin Mary that occurred at the Coptic Orthodox Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael church, in Warraq al-Hadar, Giza, Egypt, in the early hours (1:00 AM – 4:00 AM) of Friday 11 December 2009. Others, however, point out after an examination of the footage made that night, comparing it with other images of the church building, that the "apparition" is probably the illuminated tower (also called minaret) behind the church's domes as seen from different angles, and is an instance of pareidolia.
Our Lady of Assiut during 2000 and 2001

The apparitions of Our Lady of Assiut were mass apparitions in Assiut, Egypt, during 2000 and 2001. Thousands of witnesses produced photographs of them, which were reprinted in several newspapers. According to newspaper reports, during mass, pictures showing Our Lady with a dove above her that were hung on the wall inside the altar began to glow, after which the light from the dove in the pictures started to flow down. Later, the lights appeared above the church as well

In 2011, Egypt also witnessed another remarkable sighting of the Virgin at a Coptic Orthodox Church in Warraq Island, 

In Cairo the sighting of the Virgin Mary, came following a bomb attack that targeted the Alexandria-based Saints Church of St. Mark & Pope Peter on Christmas eve; the attack killed about 21 Copts. 

Here are other apparition sites of Virgin Mary around the world

Guadalupe, Mexico (1531)
Quito, Ecuador (1594)+
Querrien, France (1652)+
Le Laus, France (1664)
Rue du Bac, France (1830)
La Salette, France (1847)
Lourdes, France (1856)
Robinsonville, WI (1859)
Pontmain, France (1871)
Pellevoisin, France (1876)
Fatima, Portugal (1917)
Beauraing, Belgium (1932)
Bannaux, Belgium (1933)
Heede, Germany (1937)*
 Amsterdam, Netherlands (1945)+
Marienfried, Germany (1946)*
Tre Fontane, Italy (1947)*
Ngome, South Africa (1955)*
Akita, Japan (1973)+
Betania, Venezuela (1976)+
Cuapa, Nicaragua (1980)+
Kibeho, Rwanda (1981)
San Nicolas, Argentina (1983)+
Currently Under Investigation

Medjugorje, Bosnia-Hercegovina (1981)


No comments:

Post a Comment