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Our Lady of Zeitoun

Where:  Zeitoun, Cairo, Egypt

When:  1968


The first apparition of the Virgin Mary at Zeitoun was recorded on the evening of April 2, 1968, when a Muslim bus Mechanic, 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 and the sighting was reported to the police. A crowd gathered on the site and the police attempted to disperse it. According to the police, the sighting was just a reflection of light from the street lamps. However, a church custodian suggested the figure was the Virgin Mary, which greatly excited the crowd. Because of this, the attempts by the police to Disperse the crowd were unsuccessful. 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.  According to Coptic tradition, Zeitoun is near 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.  On May 4 Kyrillos VI issued an official statement confirming the apparitions.  Soon after, the Ministry of Tourism also issued a validation of the sightings, and reportedly began distributing pamphlets. 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.