SHENTENA EL-HAGAR, Egypt (CWN) - Since the first reported sighting of the red lights and silver-white objects around the church's roof on August 13, followed by "spiritual images," about 150,000 people have visited, said the local priest, Father Youanis Rateb Abdel-Nour.
(From a Catholic World News Service report on the apparitions.)
"I can tell you for sure that what you have heard is actually true," said Mayar Waheed from Cairo, Egypt. "Both my father and brother went to the small village and they saw the Virgin Mary appearing for almost 3 hours. If it was anyone else other than my family who saw this then I would have doubted, so that is why I am so sure. What they saw was as follows:
They were standing outside the church due to the crowd, and all they could see was the tower of the church where the bell is found. First they saw a red star come down. In the star was what seemed like small white specs. This star circulated the church and then after that there appeared two big white doves. They were not flying around, but in fact they were still but only their wings moving up and down. Next they saw light appear in the area where the bell of the church was. Inside this light appeared the Virgin Mary as a brighter body of light. Next thing was that the light surrounding Her disappeared and She remained with the two doves. Her body outline was not at all sharp - it was very wavy. Anyway, She was standing there and every once in a while She would bow down as if She was blessing the people. This all happened around 4:30 a.m.
Till now both of my brother and father are still in a daze of what they saw. They feel that they have been dreaming. In addition, I would like to point out that ALL those standing there saw the same thing. So there was no doubt that it was in fact the Virgin Mary. They say that Her light was so bright.
I also heard that in that same day, the people in the church saw the Virgin appear in the temple area.
The next night, I went to the village. She didn't appear that night, but there were two flashes of light that appeared also in the tower. Although it wasn't the body of the Virgin Mary, but the flashes of light were quite amazing."
Holy Virgin Mary Appears Again in Egypt
By Adel Girgis, MET, correspondent in Menufiya, Egypt (September 7, 1997)
For the last 2 weeks, thousands of Coptic Christians have gathered outside a church in Menufiya to witness what they believe is an appearance of the Virgin Mary. The appearance, verified by the local bishop and the secretary-general of the Holy Council of the Coptic Orthodox Church, is the third in Egypt since 1967.
"Fireballs, glowing falling stars, unbelievable lightning, circles of fire around the cross and moving sparkling wings" is how Father Wisa Baqi, of the Saint George Church in Kafr Al Shuhada in Menufiya, described the appearance.
Since the 7th of August Christians from all over Egypt have gathered from around midnight to sunrise to watch the Virgin, who appears as silver light above the church.
"Then She appeared on the church tower with 2 angels on Her sides and She began moving and blessing the people," said Father Wisa.
"People who live in the houses around the church were the first to see the silver doves and Saint Mary under the big cross of the church tower. Immediately after they saw this, they told me about it," said Father Yo'anes.
"We were surprised to see a great lightning on the cross of the church. There was a great circle of light around the cross. Saint Mary appeared in the church tower. You can't describe how beautiful She was. There was a crown above Her head and Her clothes were as blue as a clear sky and She was raising Her hands as if She was praying to God," said Father Yo'anes on August 19. The sightings were verified by the Bishop of Menufiya.
"I saw Her 3 times. She appeared in very strong circles of lights. Once I saw Her holding Her arms high in the sky as if She was praying and I saw Her another time moving right and left and looking at the people, and the third time I saw Her transforming into a huge silver dove piercing the sky," Bishop Benjamin told the Middle East Times.
In 1967, the Virgin Mary was believed to have appeared in the Zeitoun district of west Cairo [see Pearl Zaki. "Our Lord's Mother Visits Egypt in 1968-69". Booklet published by St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church. PO Box 626. East Brunswick, NJ 08816].
Bishop Bishoy, the general secretary of the Holy Council of the Coptic Orthodox Church, said, "The Virgin appears more clearly [than in] Zeitoun. I have never seen Her that way. I have presented a report to his holiness [Coptic Pope Shenouda III] confirming the news."
Bishop Sarapamoun, Bishop Ghabrial, Bishop Yo'anes, the secretary of the Pope, have reportedly confirmed the apparition.
The news of the appearance spread by word of mouth and Christians from all over Egypt brought sick relatives to Menufiya. Nader Thabet believes that the Virgin healed his five-year-old son, Abanoub, who had gangrene in his finger. "I went to the church and prayed to the Virgin, saying: ""Please heal me because mother and father are crying,"" said Abanoub. ""I do not want mother to feel sad,"" the boy added.
"The day after the boy's prayer we went to the doctor to have the boy's finger cut but it was strange to find that the boy didn't need anything and he was fully healed," said the boy's father.
Dr. Taher Ismail, who examined Abanoub, said his case was "a miracle." A number of those who witnessed the apparition, in fact, now believe they have been healed.
The Apparitions of Shentena El-Hagar, Menufiya - Official Statement:
According to the reports we have received from H.G. Bishop Bishoy and H.G. Bishop Benjamin, the Patriarchate announces the following:
A super natural light appeared in the church at Shentena El-Hagar, Menufiya, especially around the end of the month of August, and it attracted thousands of persons, rejoicing and hymning for this spiritual phenomenon which continued for several days on separate occasions.
Unfortunately, video and photographic cameras provided nothing.
We recommend that people consider it enough what they have seen, because such phenomena do not continue. Besides, uncontrolled heavy crowding has its drawbacks.
(Translated from El-Keraza official bimonthly Arabic magazine of the Coptic Orthodox Church, issue of Friday, September 12, 1997, page 13 - bottom left corner.)