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EGYPT: Is it the Virgin Mary or just a curious flash of light?

1The faithful say she comes in a flash of light amid a swirl of pigeons.  

Hundreds, if not thousands, have been lining up for hours every night at the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church in a Cairo neighborhood just off the Nile. Many of them claim that a mysterious light hovering above the church's domes is an apparition of the Virgin Mary who will bring Christian Copts prosperity and relief in a time of national and religious struggle.

The crowds began appearing Thursday evening when a number of residents spotted a flickering light. No one was sure where the illumination was coming from, and word quickly spread that the light took the shape of the Virgin Mary wearing a blue gown and standing in the sky between the church's two high crosses.

Since then, many Copts, and more than a few Muslims, have spent their evenings camping outside the church to either be blessed by a glimpse of the "miraculous" scene or to figure out just what's happening in the night sky. It has turned into a pilgrimage for the curious and the devout at a time when Egypt is beset by poverty, high unemployment and a bruised sense of identity, especially after the national soccer team's recent loss to Algeria knocked it out of contention for the World Cup.

"The scene on Saturday was huge when we saw the lightning and white pigeons flying around us. White pigeons always accompany apparitions like these," one Copt told The Times.

Copts form 10% of Egypt's population of 80 million, and many firmly believe that this is the fourth time an apparition of Virgin Mary has taken place. The most famous incident was claimed to have happened in 1968, a few months after the country's military defeat at the hands of Israel and the latter's occupation of the Sinai peninsula.

At the time, some people assumed that she has appeared to help Egypt -- a predominantly Muslim nation -- through a time of crisis. Some Copts believe the Virgin is again appearing at a time of turmoil. There has been no official word from the Coptic Church.

"I had a seven-hour train journey to come and see the apparition," Magdi Sam'aan, a farmer from Asyut told The Times. "Our life in upper Egypt is very rough because of my limited income, but I believe the Virgin Mary has come at this specific moment to lend me and the whole country a hand."

However, and according to some intellectuals, it is this very belief of apparitions related to crisis that causes people to be easily influenced by such "alleged phenomenon."

"What is going on now is a result of people's massive feeling of corruption, social injustice and the financial gap between various classes in Egypt," said prominent Coptic scriptwriter Atef Beshay. "Some people are desperately seeking 'aid'  from anyone, even if this aid will only come from the Virgin Mary's apparition.

"We also shouldn’t disregard the increasing religious tensions between Muslims and Copts. Some Copts wait for phenomenon like this because it gives them some sort of mental advantage over Muslims," Beshay said.

Writer Youssef Al Qaied agrees with Beshay that tough living has forced many Egyptian to turn to spiritualities: "When finances and living expenses are not easy to secure, people find a safe haven in creating spiritual beliefs that can pull them out of their miseries even if those beliefs have no practical or scientific bases."

Unlike their Coptic counterparts, most Muslims are not convinced. Many of them have seen light flashes in recent days, but certainly don't believe it was the Virgin Mary. 

"I was one of the first to notice the laser-like lights. But nothing happened more than this. The shape of Virgin Mary never appeared in front of my eyes," said Mohamed Soliman, who lives one block away from the church.

Columnist Khaled Muntaser said the light over the church could be scientifically explained: "Lightning in these situations could be no more than a glow accompanying any electric discharge in the sky of a certain area. This glow is scientifically known as St. Elmo's fire, and it its more likely to occur during winter. It is just a static electricity like the one we sometimes feel while taking off a polyester shirt."

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: People waiting outside Virgin Mary Orthodox Church. Credit: Al Destour.

Comments () | Archives (58)

As emissoras de tv no Brasil deveriam mostrar essa reportagem pra gente, mas pra que né? se tem nudismo que dá mais

Please find below these website with video clips of what is going on in Egypt.

She appearred for several hours the each day

PEOPLE, muslims, everyone: It IS NOT just a curious flash, It's the HOLY VIRGIN MARY!!
Where is your faith people?! And she didn't appear just in cairo 12 decemver, but 22 december she appeared again in A LOT of city's! (Assiut, fayoun, Aswan, etc). This is the evidence that St Mary Really exists and that she makes a lot of miracles and healed sick people. I love her so much, she is our mother and she want our repentance of our sins to God... Blessed are you Holy Mary!!

Greetings, from Holland

hello Wayne,

Actually it is the reverse. The protestants deny many of the teachings which all apostolic churches (east and west) hold fast to. God willing the orthodox and catholic chruch all believe and have the full seven sacraments all of which are in scripture, so who is correct and who has deviated from the truth? For 1000 year there was only one church the universal (catholic in the Greek language) chruch. With God's help we will be one again!

God bless you,
Come home to the fullness of truth

Hi Wayne, can I please ask you to prove your comment by quoting any teaching of the Catholic Church that says not to beleive in the Bible. If you can't then your statement is a hasty generalization. And I could respond by saying Protestants don't beleive in anything but the Bible. But I know there are good protestants out there just as there are good Catholics out there aswell.

P.S. The Church actually tells Catholics to read at least 15 minutes of their Bible daily.

Catholics believe anything and everything, except the bible

Yes this appearance of the Virgin Saint Mary in al-waraak
has been given an offical word by the Coptic Orthodox church. She also appeared again- 22/12/2009 in various churches in EGYPT at the same time. May her blessings be with us all during the blessed month of kiakh.

All of you god fearing people are just silly. If God was so Omnipotent why would it only appear so vaguely. If God were real would not have occurences like this one or have lunatics try to convince us otherwise.

The Virgin Mary appeared in my city also. I saw her at a 7-11 getting gas

The virgin Mary also appeared to me. I was making cheese toast and when i flipped it, there she was. Right on my cheese toast.

I am an avid LA Times subscriber for over 20 years now.

My comment is regarding the reporter, Mr. Hassan, and his LA Times manager.

My concern is that the LA Times published the reporter's story knowing full well that he did not go to the location he is reporting on and about! That is not the journalism expected from such a reputable publication as LA Times.

Mr. Hassan should report facts, and have the LA Times readers decide, he obviously is not a field reporter, he was probably sitting on one of the cafe's in Cairo sipping tea and smoking a hookah.

LA Times, please do not publish biased opinions from your reporters!

Official Facebook Group Abouut Apparition of Virgin Mary in Warraq Egypt
Here you get all recent News

"This glow is scientifically known as St. Elmo's fire, and it its more likely to occur during winter".. I wonder how Egyptian says that while thats well known, the spiritual apparitions started in Al-Zatwon church in April and in Asyut in August..
And I have the honor to be a witness of this not once nor twice but tens of times, from 18 Aug. 2000 till Jan. 2001.
The reporter should have been little neuterer - at least - by presenting the report from the different points of view.

What a shame on this biased article. your Muslim reporter twisted facts and chose his witnesses. His renown "prominent Coptic scriptwriter Atef Beshay" is not a Copt but Jehovas Witness, who of course do not believe in the Virgin Mary or anything for that matter.

Your lazy reporter always adds "Copts form 10% of Egypt's population of 80 million", is it not time he updated his information. Pope Schenouda said in his interview with the Egyptian National TV that the Copts are at least 12,000,000.

Please LA Times get back your credibility, sack your reporter and take instead a Westerner like the rest of the respectable newspapers.

shame on u . is this what jesus said in jn8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you the video at the min 4:43 again. also read eccl9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten

I will not argue about the Virgin Mary Apparition lately in the church named after her holly name & the angel Michael in El Warraq , Giza , Egypt ( basic information wasn't mentioned in the report ) because this is a matter of faith deeply inside the heart , it's a very personal matter to everyone to believe it or not .. actually to feel it or not
But i want to talk about that report in a profesional way
Clearly it seems that the reporter didn't bother going to the scene to explore & watch what's happening ..
It was very enough to him to sit & watch one of the late night talk shows in the Egyptian media which is ( Al Ashera Masa'an ) or ( 10 pm ) on Dream TV second channel by the famouse Mona El Shazly .
And all what he has done was to copy - literally - what has been said in this talkshow either from the guests ( Atef Beshay & Youssef El Qaied ) or the phone callers
After all , the reporter didn't even mention the talkshow due to the copyrights
So I can claim that he is not just a lazy reporter .. but a thief one also
that's why his report came very weak & unprofessional
Anyone can make a better report while he is sitting in his bedroom watching TV & I think LA times readers deserve to have some better quality in the press service more than this ..!
Do some effort , Mr reporter

Mina E . Azer
Alexandria , Egypt

Merry Christmas everyone.

I don't worry about such people, who try to hide and change the truth, they are stubborn and thick headed, the videos are clearer than anything can be, and the last thing ever the egyptian goverment would like to see with all the oil rich islamic terror supporting gulf goat countries is to see this spread out. The egyptian TV stations could not, just could not ignore this huge incident.

To all who can't just accept this, tough luck, this is how it is, like it or not, and Jesus Christ the Lord is coming and each knee will bend and each one will bow to him, including all the thick headed.

As for Bishay, a betrayer could go as far as eating with Jesus from the same plate, he's just another one, all the copts know that more than the Americans know 911.

I beleive the world is coming to an end, and i think all of us need to change and become better, all of us. God bless you all, including the thick headed change and become headed to think, how about that ?

And who is Amro Hassan ? is this the Los Angeles Times or Taliban Times, you have no thinking at all, your having a muslim reporter report on Virgin Mary's Apparation ? are you out of your mind, or is this an act of foolishness?

Amro Hassan will now change his name to George Hassan and cry out the truth to the world ? and you know what even if he does, you will fire him and look for another muslim reporter, no wonder some guy like bin ladin is giving you a hard time, you've become so clumsy thats why.

And hey if you have some guts watch these video, don't ask Amro Hassan, he's seen it in reality already and can't stand it, too much for him;,-United%20-Arab-Emirates-Saudi-Arabia-and-Islam.html

And the 1968 Zeiton apparation

First of , to the writer: You are a journalist you write what u see & take eye witness accounts and do a little history . If you don't believe that is o.k. No one is forcing you to believe. but you are biased & I agree with with the post-es above.What the hell dose a soccer game or class have to do with this story
Egypt has always been either high class or the poor hence corruption! second ,soccer is a loved game in the Mediterranean u might have some teens rioting after they lost, but then life goes back to normal. soccer dose not identify the identity of the Egyptian people !! they lost ohh well, they will still be egyptian. Seriously hope u take some refresher courses in journalism maybe world culture.
Second Oh Ye OF LiTtle FAITH. Just info you can look up and not take my word for it. in the bible it states that when Herod who was appointed king by the Romans to rule the land of Palestine. Herod, heard of the birth of the saviour of the Jews & was visited by the three wise men who also told him of the birth of the king.then Herod ordered that all first born sons where to be killed, mean time an angel appeared to marry & told her to go into the land of Egypt & they did till Jesus was around the age of seven then they went back to Nazareth. Also there was a sighting of(mother marry)that over a million people in Egypt in the 60 at zaytouna Coptic Church saw her . with picture evidence that scientists when examining the pictures said that pictures are authentic and no one messed with them . You don't have to believe, but Muslims & christens believe in mother Marry.maybe this could be a good thing for the whole world a massage, a sign. That we are losing our faith to materialistic and world power & corruption. Faith is the deep belief in things unseen or untouched.
A common manifestation of mass hysteria occurs when a group of people believe they are suffering from a similar disease or ailment. The definition of mass hysteria and this sighting of mother marry is NOT mass hysteria. if believers & non believers saw it. God/Jesus Christ dose not leave himself without any witness.

I saw the youtube video and it certainly didn't look like weather phenomenon of any kind. Your reporter was clearly biased. The prominent Coptic screenwriter your reporter interviewed didn't see the phenomenon and made a broad social statement about social and economic pressure. How is that germaine to the phenomenon. As a reader I want to know how many people saw the lights? How long did it last? Is there evidence of weather phenomenon? Was there a device found nearby? One eye witness claimed he saw a laser light, but the video clearly does not fit that description. Why not? Further, the author dismisses the entire phenomenon by broadly claiming intellectuals agree that the underlying cause of mass sightings is clearly social and economic hardship. Really? Please tell me who these intellectuals are and where in the academic literature social phenomenon has lead to group hallucinations which incidently is supported by a video. Stop the lazy reporting.

there are those who have eyes who do not see and those who have ears but do not hear. Its happened to many times for it to be untrue, I thank God that he has remembered his people in Egypt and has sent st mary to us and to the Coptic Church. Lets Pray and Fast that the whole of Egypt can open there eyes and see St Mary and be witnesses to Christ.

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