Our Lady of Zeitoun

Our Lady of Zeitoun, also known simply as El-Zeitoun, Zeitun or rarely Our Lady of Light, was an alleged mass Marian apparition that is supposed to have occurred in the Zeitoun district of Cairo, Egypt, over a period of 2–3 years beginning on April 2, 1968.

Our Lady of Zeitoun
A photo of the Virgin Mary above the church of Virgin Mary in Zeitoun, Cairo.
LocationZeitoun, Cairo, Egypt
DateApril 2nd, 1968
TypeMarian Apparition
Holy See approvalCoptic Orthodox Church


The first apparition at Zeitoun was recorded on the evening of April 2, 1968, when a Muslim bus mechanic named Farouk Mohammed Atwa, who worked across the street from St. Mary's Coptic Church in Zeitoun, supposedly thought he saw a woman attempting suicide by jumping from the structure. Two other men also noticed a white figure on the top of the church[1] and the sighting was reported to the police.[2] A crowd gathered on the site and the police attempted to disperse it. According to the police, the sighting was just a reflection of the light from the street lamps.[2] However, the crowds reportedly viewed the sighting as a clear apparition of the Virgin Mary, and so, the attempts by the police to disperse the crowd were unsuccessful.[2] The event itself ended after a few minutes.

One week later on April 9 the phenomenon reoccurred, again lasting for only a few minutes. After that time apparitions became more frequent, sometimes two-three times a week, for several years, ending in 1971.[2] According to Coptic tradition, the site is one of the locations where the Holy family stayed during their flight into Egypt.

The head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Pope of Alexandria, Kyrillos VI appointed a committee of high-ranking priests and bishops to investigate the matter, headed by Bishop Gregorios, bishop of postgraduate studies, Coptic culture and scientific research.[3] On May 4 Kyrillos VI issued an official statement confirming the apparitions.[4]

Nuns of the Society of the Sacred Heart also witnessed the apparitions and sent a detailed report to the Vatican, resulting in the arrival of an envoy on April 28 who also saw the apparitions and sent a report to Pope Paul VI. As the apparition appeared over a Coptic church, the Vatican left the investigation to the Coptic authorities. On May 5, 1968, Coptic Orthodox Pope Kyrillos VI approved the apparition.

The apparitions were also witnessed by President Gamal Abdel Nasser,[5] and captured by newspaper photographers and Egyptian television. Investigations performed by the police could find no explanation for the phenomenon. No device was found within a radius of fifteen miles capable of projecting the image, while the sheer number of photographs from independent sources suggests that no photographic manipulation was involved. Having been unable to produce an alternative explanation for the luminous sightings, the Egyptian government accepted the apparitions as true.[6]

Skeptical interpretation of the events

Estimates of the number of observers of the event vary greatly. Thousands were said to have flocked to the Church after the first announced occurrences of the phenomenon. Some claim the apparitions were seen by millions. Other sources estimate the figure at around 250,000 in total. Cynthia Nelson was a professor of anthropology at AUC (American University in Cairo) and the founding director of the Institute of Gender and Women's Studies. She visited the church site on several occasions including April 15, 1968, another week later near the end of April and on June 1, 1968. Despite the accounts of ongoing, if irregular, visitations by the Marian apparition, Cynthia Nelson documents seeing nothing other than a few 'intermittent flashes of light'.[7]

Some authors suggest that the sightings must be considered in context. The appearances came at a period of crisis in Egyptian history and, echoed "a widespread feeling that the defeat of Egypt in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war was the result of having abandoned faith in favor of human-made ideas and belief systems."[8]

Sociologists Robert Bartholomew and Erich Goode offer the Zeitoun apparitions as a prominent case of mass hysteria: "It appears that the Marian observers were predisposed by religious background and social expectation to interpreting the light displays as related to the Virgin Mary."[9]

Golden Jubilee

On 12 May 2018, the Coptic Church celebrated the golden Jubilee of the event.,[10] Pope Tawadros II held the four Holy Mass.[11] A large number of priests and Christians from all over Egypt attended the celebration, Sub-celebrations have been held from May 10 to May 13.[12][13][14]

See also


  1. ^ Carroll, Michael P. (1992), The cult of the Virgin Mary: psychological origins, Princeton University Press, pp. 211–212, ISBN 0-691-02867-2
  2. ^ a b c d Michael P. Carroll The cult of the Virgin Mary: psychological origins, p. 212
  3. ^ "The Apparitions Of The Blessed Holy Virgin Mary"
  4. ^ Bishop Grigorius (1968), ST. MARY'S TRANSFIGURATIONS (The Coptic Orthodox Church of Zeitun), Cairo: Dar Memphis Press, pp. 16–18
  5. ^ LaFave, Peter. "When Mary Returned to Egypt", The Christian Review, 21 January 2016
  6. ^ Johnston, Francis. When Millions Saw Mary. Augustine Publishing Co., 1980 ISBN 0-85172-631-3
  7. ^ The Virgin of Zeitoun. Worldview Magazine, Volume 16 No. 9 September 1973 online
  8. ^ N Guenena and N Wassef (1999), Unfulfilled Promises. (PDF), p. 7, archived from the original (PDF) on 6 Dec 2008
  9. ^ Mass delusions, Highlights from the Past Millennium, Zeitoun, Egypt, 1968-1971 online
  10. ^ https://www.youm7.com/story/2018/5/10/الكنيسة-تبدأ-اليوم-الاحتفال-باليوبيل-الذهبى-لظهور-العذراء-بكنيسة-الزيتون/3785989
  11. ^ https://www.youm7.com/story/2018/5/12/البابا-تواضروس-يترأس-صلوات-عشية-الاحتفال-بظهور-العذراء-فى-الزيتون/3789967
  12. ^ http://www.dostor.org/2166695
  13. ^ http://www.copts-united.com/Article.php?I=3358&A=379068
  14. ^ https://dbonfrdgauzmg.cloudfront.net/news/details/1290150

Further reading

  • Pearl Zaki (1977). Our Lord's Mother visits Egypt in 1968 & 1969. Publisher Dar el Alam el Arabi. Available online
  • Francis Johnston (1980). When Millions Saw Mary. Augustine Publishing Co. ISBN 0-85172-631-3 also available online
  • Youssef G. Kamell/ John P. Jackson/ Rebecca S. Jackson (1996): A Lady of Light Appears in Egypt. The story of Zeitoun. St. Mark's Avenue Press.
  • Père Francois Brune (2004): La Vièrge de l'Egypte. L'incroyable apparition de Marie à des millions d'Egyptiens. Editions Le jardin des Livres.
  • Articles "Caire III - Caire X", in: Laurentin, René / Sbalchiero, Patrick (eds.)(2007): Dictionnaire des "apparitions" de la Vierge Marie. Fayard.

External links


The Coptic Orthodox cycle of canonical hours is primarily composed of psalm readings from the Old Testament and gospel readings from the New Testament, with some added hymns of praise, troparia (known as "قطع" in the contemporary Arabic Agpeya and as "preces" or "litanies" in English), and other prayers. The Agpeya is the Coptic "Prayer Book of the Hours", and is equivalent to the Byzantine Horologion and Roman Liturgy of the Hours used by the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches, respectively. The Agpeya prayers are popular prayers recited by both individuals and families at home, as well as for communal prayers as an introduction to mass at church. The vast majority of the Copts learn the recitation and prayers of the Agpeya at an early age as children at home from their families.

It includes seven canonical hours, which to a great extent correspond to the Byzantine order, with an additional "Prayer of the Veil" which is usually recited by Bishops, Priests, and Monks (something like the Byzantine Midnight Office). The Coptic terms for 'Matins' and 'Vespers' are 'The Morning Raising of Incense' and 'The Evening Raising of Incense' respectively.

The hours are chronologically laid out, each containing a theme corresponding to events in the life of Jesus Christ:

The Midnight Praise (said in the early morning before dawn) commemorates the Second Coming of Christ. It consists of three watches, corresponding to the three stages of Christ's prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane ( Matthew 25:1-13 ).

Prime (Morning Raising of Incense) is said upon awaking up in the morning or after the Midnight Praise the previous night. The vast majority of the Copts recite this prayer upon waking up in the morning. It symbolises Jesus Christ's incarnation and Resurrection.

Terce (9 a.m.) reminds us of three events, Christ’s trial by Pilate, his ascension to the heavens and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples at Pentecost.

Sext (noon) commemorates the Passion of Christ.Terce and Sext are prayed before each Divine Liturgy.None (3 p.m.) commemorates the death of Christ on the Cross. This hour is also recited during fasting days.

Evening Raising of Incense (Vespers) (sunset) commemorates the taking down of Christ from the Cross.

Compline (9 p.m. - before bedtime) commemorates the burial of Christ, and the Final Judgment.Vespers and Compline are both recited before the Liturgy during Lent and the fast of Nineveh.The "Cetar" or Veil is usually recited by bishops, priests and monks, as a form of the examination of conscience. Some individuals and families also elect to recite it as a part of their daily devotions at home.Most of the Copts tend to recite the "contemporary" Agpeya prayers or parts thereof in Arabic; however, its English translations are also available in print and digital format for Copts living in English-speaking countries, and a French translation is also available. The British scholar O.H.E. Burmester edited and published a scholastic work based on a "historical" Agpeya dated to the 13th/14th century AD, "The Horologion of the Egyptian Church", in Egypt in 1973. It was published in two versions, a trilingual "English, Coptic and Arabic" version and a "Coptic only" version. A bilingual contemporary "Coptic and Arabic" Agpeya was also edited and published in Egypt in 1975 by S. Pisada. A contemporary Agpeya in "Coptic-only" - dedicated to the Theotokos Saint Mary in commemoration of the apparitions of our Lady of Zeitoun - was edited by E. Rizkalla, and published in the USA in 2014. A bilingual English-Coptic contemporary Agpeya was also published in the USA in 2015.

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The Roman Catholic Church in the 20th century had to respond to the challenge of increasing secularization of Western society and persecution resulting from great social unrest and revolutions in several countries. It instituted many reforms, particularly in the 1970s under the Vatican II Council, in order to modernize practices and positions. In this period, Catholic missionaries in the Far East worked to improve education and health care, while evangelizing peoples and attracting numerous followers in China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan.

Christianity in the 20th century

Christianity in the 20th century was characterized by an accelerating secularization of Western society, which had begun in the 19th century, and by the spread of Christianity to non-Western regions of the world.

Christian ecumenism grew in importance, beginning at the Edinburgh Missionary Conference in 1910, and accelerated after the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church, The Liturgical Movement became significant in both Catholic and Protestant Christianity, especially in Anglicanism.

At the same time, state-promoted atheism in communist Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union brought persecution to many Eastern Orthodox and other Christians. Many Orthodox came to Western Europe and the Americas, leading to greatly increased contact between Western and Eastern Christianity. Nevertheless, church attendance declined more in Western Europe than it did in the East.

The Roman Catholic Church instituted many reforms in order to modernize. Catholic and Protestant missionaries also made inroads in East Asia, increasing their presence and activity in Korea, mainland China, Taiwan, and Japan.

List of cathedrals in Austria

This is a list of cathedrals in Austria, including both actual and former diocesan cathedrals (seats of bishops). Almost all cathedrals in Austria are Roman Catholic, but any non-Roman Catholic cathedrals are also listed here.

The list is intended to be complete.

Although the word "Kathedrale" is used formally in German, the more usual word is "Dom". This not only refers to cathedrals in the proper sense as the seats of bishops, but also to a small number of large churches in Austria, which are known as "Dom" as a mark of distinction or historical importance (sometimes known by the description "Prachtdom", i.e., churches called "Dom" because of their magnificence or splendour). These are included in a separate section, without implying that they have the status of cathedrals.

Marian apparition

A Marian apparition is a reported supernatural appearance by the Blessed Virgin Mary. The figure is often named after the town where it is reported, or on the sobriquet given to Mary on the occasion of the apparition.

Marian apparitions sometimes are reported to recur at the same site over an extended period of time. In the majority of Marian apparitions only one person or a few people report having witnessed the apparition. Exceptions to this include Zeitoun, and Assiut where thousands claimed to have seen her over a period of time.

Some Marian apparitions and their respective icons have received a Canonical coronation from the Pope, most notably Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Fátima, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Our Lady of Manaoag, Our Lady of the Pillar, Our Lady of Walsingham, and many others.

Mourad Wahba

Mourad Wahba Pasha (1879-1972) was an Egyptian politician and high court judge. He served as Vice President of the Court of Cassation, then Egypt's highest court from 1931-1937 after which he was appointed as Minister of Agriculture in 1937 and Minister of Trade and Industry in 1938. He was then appointed as senator from 1939 to 1945. He also served in the Board of Directors of various companies and was a leading figure in Coptic communal affairs.

Our Lady of Assiut

Our Lady of Assiut is the name given to a series of reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 2000 and 2001 in Assiut, Egypt.

Our Lady of Light

Our Lady of Light may refer to:

"Our Lady of Light" (Portuguese), Nossa Senhora da Luz, a list of places in Cape Verde

"Our Lady of Light" (Spanish), Nuestra Señora de la Luz, a list of places and churches

"Our Lady of Light", another name for Our Lady of Zeitoun, a mass Marian apparition that occurred in Cairo, Egypt, for 2 to 3 years beginning in 1968

Our Lady of Light Cathedral, Guarabira, Paraiba, Brazil

Our Lady of Light Parish Church, Rizal, Philippines

Our Lady of Light Parish Church

Diocesan Shrine and Parish of Our Lady of Light, popularly known as Cainta Church (Spanish: Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de la Luz), is a Roman Catholic parish church located along Andres Bonifacio Avenue in Barangay San Andres, Cainta, Rizal in the Philippines. The church also operates a neighboring school, Cainta Catholic College. From its time of erection as a parish in 1760 until 1983, it belonged to the Archdiocese of Manila. It was placed under the newly created Diocese of Antipolo in 1983, which is now headed by Most Rev. Francisco M. De Leon. It belongs to the Vicariate of Our Lady of Light.

On 6 December 2017, Pope Francis granted the papal bull of Canonical coronation towards its enshrined Marian image and crowned on 1 December 2018. The venerated image is a destroyed Sicillian painting from 1727, recreated by Philippine national artist Fernando Amorsolo due to the burning of the original relic during the Filipino-American war in 1899. It is the first Marian image in Philippine history to be pontifically crowned as an artistic painting. On the same day of its Canonical coronation, the parish church was also be consecrated and elevated into a Diocesan Shrine.

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Paremhat (Coptic: Ⲡⲁⲣⲉⲙϩⲁⲧ), also known as Phamenoth (Greek: Φαμενώθ, Phamenṓth) and Baramhat (Arabic: برمهات‎), is the seventh month of the ancient Egyptian and Coptic calendars. It lies between March 10 and April 8 of the Gregorian calendar. Paremhat is also the third month of the Season of Proyet (Growth and Emergence) in Ancient Egypt, where the Nile floods recede and the crops start to grow throughout the land of Egypt.

Shrines to the Virgin Mary

A shrine to the Virgin Mary (or Marian shrine) is a shrine marking an apparition or other miracle ascribed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or a site on which is centered a historically strong Marian devotion. Such locales are often the destination of pilgrimages.

Timeline of Christianity

The purpose of this timeline is to give a detailed account of Christianity from the beginning of the current era (AD) to the present. Question marks ('?') on dates indicate approximate dates.

The year one is the first year in the Christian calendar (there is no year zero), which is the calendar presently used (in unison with the Gregorian calendar) almost everywhere in the world. Traditionally, this was held to be the year Jesus was born; however, most modern scholars argue for an earlier or later date, the most agreed upon being between 6 BC and 4 BC.

6 Herod Archelaus deposed by Augustus; Samaria, Judea and Idumea annexed as Iudaea Province under direct Roman administration, capital at Caesarea, Quirinius became Legate (Governor) of Syria, conducted Census of Quirinius, opposed by Zealots (JA18, Luke 2:1–3, Acts 5:37)

7-26 Brief period of peace, relatively free of revolt and bloodshed in Iudaea & Galilee

9 Pharisee leader Hillel the Elder dies, temporary rise of Shammai

14-37 Tiberius, Roman Emperor

18-36 Caiaphas, appointed High Priest of Herod's Temple by Prefect Valerius Gratus, deposed by Syrian Legate Lucius Vitellius

19 Jews, Jewish proselytes, astrologers, expelled from Rome

26-36 Pontius Pilate, Prefect (governor) of Iudaea, recalled to Rome by Syrian Legate Vitellius on complaints of excess violence (JA18.4.2)

28 or 29 John the Baptist begins his ministry in the "15th year of Tiberius" (Luke 3:1–2), saying: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matthew 3:1–2), a relative of Jesus (Luke 1:36), a Nazirite (Luke 1:15), baptized Jesus (Mark 1:4–11), later arrested and beheaded by Herod Antipas (Luke 3:19–20), it's possible that, according to Josephus' chronology, John was not killed until 36 (JA18.5.2)Jesus begins his ministry after his baptism by John and during the rule of Pilate, preaching: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matthew 4:12–17). While the historicity of the gospel accounts is questioned to some extent by some critical scholars and non-Christians, the traditional view states the following chronology for his ministry: Temptation, Sermon on the Mount, Appointment of the Twelve, alleged Miracles, Temple Money Changers, Last Supper, Arrest, Trial, Passion, Crucifixion on Nisan 14th (John 19:14, Mark 14:2, Gospel of Peter) or Nisan 15th (Synoptic Gospels), entombment by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, professed Resurrection by God and claimed Resurrection appearances of Jesus to Mary Magdalene and other women (Mark 16:9, John 20:10–18), Simon Peter (Luke 24:34), and others, (1Cor.15:3–9), Great Commission, Ascension, Second Coming Prophecy to fulfill the rest of Messianic prophecy such as the Resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment, and establishment of the Kingdom of God and the Messianic Age.

Titles of Mary

Mary is known by many different titles (Blessed Mother, Madonna, Our Lady), epithets (Star of the Sea, Queen of Heaven, Cause of Our Joy), invocations (Theotokos, Panagia, Mother of Mercy) and other names (Our Lady of Loreto, Our Lady of Guadalupe).

All of these titles refer to the same individual named Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ (in the New Testament) and are used variably by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and some Anglicans. (Note: Mary Magdalene, Mary of Clopas, and Mary Salome are different individuals from Mary, mother of Jesus.)

Many of the titles given to Mary are dogmatic in nature. Other titles are poetic or allegorical and have lesser or no canonical status, but which form part of popular piety, with varying degrees of acceptance by the clergy. Yet more titles refer to depictions of Mary in the history of art.

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