News and images of alleged luminous manifestations of the Holy Virgin Mary in the sky above the domes of churches in villages close to Muharraq Monastery in Meir, al-Qoussiya, Assiut, some 330km south of Cairo, Upper Egypt, have gone viral on Facebook and Twitter.
According to Fr Mikhail, a monk at Muharraq Monastery, villagers were participating in the celebration of Kiahk Midnight Praise, an all-night long praise ceremony dedicated to the Holy Virgin and held all through the Coptic month of Kiahk which closes with Coptic Christmas on 29 Kiahk, 7 January. Claims that a luminous form of the Holy Virgin was seen hovering over the domes of churches in the villages of Rizqat al-Deir, Ballout, and al-Manshah, sent the villagers rushing to climb rooftops of nearby houses to get a better view. They captured photographs which they posted on social media. They say the manifestations started Saturday 29 December after midnight, and ran into the early hours of Sunday morning.
So far, the Church has issued no official confirmation or denial of the news.
If it proves that the Holy Virgin did indeed appear over the churches around Muharraq, it would not be the first such manifestation in Egypt in modern times. Among the most outstanding apparitions are a number that took place starting 1968.
In April 1968, the Holy Virgin appeared in a very well-defined luminous form above the dome of her church in Zaitoun, Cairo, in numerous manifestations that tapered off over a period of two – three years. In March 1986, she appeared throughout several months over the dome of the church of St Dimiana in Papadoplou in the Cairo district of Shubra. In August 2000 and well into 2001, the Holy Virgin manifested herself several times above the church of St Mark in Assiut and, in December 2009, over the dome of her church in Warraq, Giza.
The Monastery of the Holy Virgin Mary, known as al-Muharraq, is among the oldest in Egypt, believed to have been built during the first AD centuries. Tradition has it that it is located where the Holy Family—Baby Jesus, St Mary and St Joseph—resided for some six months during its flight into Egypt from the face of Herod the King.
“Al-Muharraq” is an Arabic word which means “burnt by fire”, and has been used to denote the monastery which was partially burned by foreign invaders and Berbers in the Middle Ages.
The church of the Holy Virgin inside the monastery is believed to have been built over the cave where the Holy Family stayed. The altar stone, dated 747AD, is said to be located on the very spot where the Baby Jesus rested.
31 December 2018