Church of the Virgin Mary (Zeitoun)

The Church of the Virgin Mary at Zeitoun (The Apparition Church) was built by Tawfik Khalil Ibrahim, under the supervision of the Italian architect Leomingelli. He built it as a miniature of the famous Agia Sophia church in Istanbul, Turkey upon a vision he had seen in which the Holy Virgin told him that she would appear in her church at Zeitoun after forty years. The church was consecrated during the Holy Mass on Sunday 29 June 1925. According to tradition, the site is one of the locations where the Holy family stayed during their flight into Egypt.,[1]

Virgin Mary Coptic Orthodox Church
Virgin Mary Church at Zeitoun.jpg
LocationZeitoun, Cairo
Country Egypt
DenominationCoptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
Founded29 June 1925
DedicationSaint Mary
Consecrated29 June 1925
Architect(s)Tawfik Kalil Ibrahim
Architectural typeByzantine architecture
StyleByzantine architecture
Bishop(s)Pope Tawadros II


On the Evening of Tuesday, 2 April 1968, that is the 24th of Baramhat, 1684 (Coptic Calendar), our Holy Lady, began to appear in luminous scenes over domes of St. Mary church at Zeitoun. The first apparition was seen by the workmen of a garage belonging to the Public Transport Authority opposite the church. Among them was the watchman Abdel Aziz Ali, who saw a luminous body of a young lady kneeling next to the big Cross located on the largest dome of the church.[2]

He started shouting "A light over the dome!" Then he called upon his fellow workers to look at the lady on the roof of the church. Some of them thought it was a young lady trying to commit suicide, so they shouted a warning to her. She was standing over the dome in her white robe, and she was holding in her hand something like an olive branch. Then they saw her moving, and a light was emanating from her body all around her. Only then they realized that she was the Holy Virgin Mary, so they started shouting loudly, "It is the Virgin... It is Virgin Mary."[3][2]

This apparition was accompanied by various spiritual phenomena such as:[4][5][6]

  • Spiritual bodies in the form of doves, flying swiftly with a great speed like arrows breaking through the sky over the church
  • Stars dropping very rapidly above the domes and over the roof of the church.
  • Flashes, like lighting, radiating from the church domes, especially the northern east dome.
  • Fragrant incense spreading and filling the place over the big central dome, the roof, and all around.
  • Luminous clouds over the church domes, in the form of the Holy Virgin.

Annual celebrationEdit

On the 2nd of April, every year the church celebrates the Virgin's apparition, in a marvelous celebration by thousands of believers who wish to honor her, seeking her blessing and intercession.

  • "Blessed are you, O Mary, the ever-lighted lamp." - St. Cyril of Alexandria
  • "Blessed are you, O Mary, the heaven bearing the Divinity." - St. Ephrem the Syrian
  • "Blessed are you, O Mary, who is more honored than the Cherubim and more glorified than the Seraphim." - St. John Chrysostom
  • "Blessed is our land, and blessed is our Holy church which the Blessed Virgin has chosen from all parts of the world to appear in, in a very special and unprecedented manner." - Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria


  1. ^ LaFave, Peter. "When Mary Returned to Egypt", The Christian Review, 21 January 2016
  2. ^ a b Michael P. Carroll The cult of the Virgin Mary: psychological origins, p. 212
  3. ^ Carroll, Michael P. (1992), The cult of the Virgin Mary: psychological origins, Princeton University Press, pp. 211–212, ISBN 0-691-02867-2
  4. ^ Johnston, Francis. When Millions Saw Mary. Augustine Publishing Co., 1980 ISBN 0-85172-631-3
  5. ^ "The Apparitions Of The Blessed Holy Virgin Mary"
  6. ^ Bishop Grigorius (1968), ST. MARY'S TRANSFIGURATIONS (The Coptic Orthodox Church of Zeitun), Cairo: Dar Memphis Press, pp. 16–18