The Vatican, the Coptic Church and even the government of Egypt were unified in their approval of the apparition.
On April 2, 1968, a Muslim bus mechanic saw something strange hovering over St. Mary’s Coptic Church in Zeitoun. He thought someone was going to commit suicide, but after closer examination, he saw it was a silhouette of light that resembled a woman.
The apparition attracted a large crowd, but only lasted a few minutes.
The following week it happened again, and continued 2 or 3 times a week for a total of three years, ending in 1971. Many believed the apparition was the Virgin Mary, clothed with light. The phenomenon occurred on top of a church that is traditionally held to be a location where the Holy Family stayed during their sojourn in Egypt.
The apparition was witnessed by people of every faith, including both Muslims and Christians. The head of the Coptic Church made an investigation of the apparitions and he declared them miraculous and an authentic appearance of the Virgin Mary.
Also located in the city was a Roman Catholic religious order who sent a report to the Vatican, detailing the extraordinary phenomenon. While Pope Paul VI deferred to the leader of the Coptic Church to make a public decision, a Vatican envoy arrived in Cairo and made their own report. They witnessed the apparition of light and wrote the following details in a formal statement.
The apparitions occurred on many different nights and are continuing in different forms. The Holy Virgin Saint Mary appeared sometimes in full form and sometimes in a bust, surrounded with a halo of shining light. She was seen at times on the openings of the domes on the roof of the church, and at other times outside the domes, moving and walking on the roof of the church and over the domes. When She knelt in reverence in front of the cross, the cross shone with bright light. Waving Her blessed hands and nodding Her holy head, She blessed the people who gathered to observe the miracle. She appeared sometimes in the form of a body like a very bright cloud, and sometimes as a figure of light preceded with heavenly bodies shaped like doves moving at high speeds. The apparitions continued for long periods, up to 2 hours and 15 minutes as in the dawn of Tuesday April 30, 1968 (the 22nd of Barmouda, 1684 A.M.), when She appeared continuously from 2:45 am till 5:00 am.
Thousands of people from different denominations and religions, Egyptians and foreign visitors, clergy and scientists, from different classes and professions, all observed the apparitions. The description of each apparition as of the time, location and configuration was identically witnessed by all people, which makes this apparition unique and sublime.
They also related how the apparition was causing a miraculous revival of the Christian faith, with many conversions taking place in the city. Also, various healings were recorded that occurred near the apparition site.
Furthermore, even the Egyptian government investigated the apparition. President Gamal Abdel Nasse witnessed the apparition and the Egyptian police could not find any natural way to explain the phenomenon. Everyone was universally stunned by what they saw and no one could offer a scientific explanation.
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There was no particular message associated with the Marian apparition, but it came at a time when the Middle East was in turmoil and after Egypt was defeated in the Arab-Israeli war. It gave people hope in a time of darkness and strengthened the faith of many.