Our Lady of Zeitoun

A Fascinating Marian Apparition from Egypt

Fifty years ago this week, on the evening of April 2, 1968, a group of Muslim mechanics and drivers working across the street from Virgin Mary’s Coptic Church in Zeitoun, Egypt, saw a woman atop a dome of the church. Two other men also noticed the white figure on the top of the church and the matter was reported to the police. A crowd gathered on the site and interpreted the sighting as an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. After a few minutes, the event ended. According to tradition, Zeitoun is on the route that the Holy Family took when fleeing King Herod’s efforts to murder the infant Jesus.

Our Lady of Zeitoun

One week later, on April 9, 1968, the phenomenon reoccurred, again lasting for only a few minutes. After that time apparitions became more frequent, sometimes two or three times a week, for several years, ending in 1971. The woman spoke no words, but moved about the church’s mysteriously illuminated domes. She would also face the people in the streets below and gesture warmly with her head or hands. Sometimes she was accompanied by luminous, dove-shaped bodies which moved about at high speeds. 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.

Pope (or Patriarch) Kyrillos VI, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, appointed a committee of high-ranking priests and bishops to investigate. On May 4, 1968, Kyrillos VI issued an official statement confirming and approving the apparition. These apparitions were witnessed by perhaps a million people, including President Gamal Abdel Nasser, and were documented by newspaper photographers and Egyptian television. Egyptian government officials concluded in 1968: “Official investigations have been carried out with the result that it has been considered an undeniable fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary has been appearing on Zeitoun Church in a clear and bright luminous body seen by all present in front of the church, whether Christians or Muslims.”

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8 Responses to “Our Lady of Zeitoun”

  1. Derya Little Says:

    Zeitoun means “olive”. I wonder if it means anything since Our Lady does not do anything without reason.

    • Fr. Victor Feltes Says:

      Why might the Virgin Mary appear silently atop a Christian church in a turbulent Muslim country? My first theory: to promote peace between these peoples. Olive branches symbolize peace.

  2. Ikram Abdou Says:

    [El] Zeitoun is one of the places visited by the Holy Family when they went to Egypt. This Church is actually named after the Virgin St. Mary not St. Mark.
    https://orthodoxwiki.org/Zeitun

  3. George Says:

    The time for conversions is ready.

  4. Carlos Says:

    Our blessed mother loves Muslims too.

  5. ts Says:

    Has the photograph been enhanced/altered?

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