The hearts of Copts leaped on 3 July as news circulated that the Holy Virgin had appeared in luminous form above the spire of the church consecrated in her name in the Minya town of Deir Mawas some 320km south of Cairo. As soon as word got out, crowds converged on the church hoping for a glimpse of and blessing by the Holy Virgin.
Ever since the grand more-than-18-month long manifestation of the Holy Virgin on the dome of her church in the Cairo district of Zaitoun in April 1968, Copts have eagerly flocked to any site in which she was said to have appeared. The Zaitoun manifestations were marked with many blessings and miracles, later recorded in books upon books. In Deir Mawas, it was not only the eager Copts who moved to the scene, but also the media which rushed to talk to witnesses and interview Anba Aghapius, Bishop of Deir Mawas and Dalga, asking for his comments on the blessed apparition and his view on what it could mean for the Church, Copts, Egypt and Egyptians.
Egypt’s long history with the manifestations of the Holy Virgin includes several incidents which now occupy a prominent position in historical references on Marian apparitions around the world over the last two centuries.
We can never discount the overflowing faith with which any incident of manifestation of the Holy Virgin is met, nor can we overlook the rush of the crowds to eagerly witness it with much zeal and delight. We are keen to report on the miracles and blessings that accompany the manifestations. It is the responsibility of the Church leadership, however, to take all necessary measures and procedures to investigate and confirm any such incident, and to issue official statements that authenticate and recognise it. The measureless value of Marian apparitions places us under the obligation of verifying and confirming them, to defend them against frequent rejection and belittlement by those who suspect their veracity. Some attempt to explain them off as visual illusions or light tricks, whereas others promote and exploit them for personal interest. As much as these claims pain the Coptic faithful, they place on the shoulders of the Church leadership the responsibility of assuming its role in investigating and monitoring the occurrence, recognising and authenticating it to reassure the congregation and stop doubters in their tracks.
The Church has in earlier incidents assumed its responsibility in checking out alleged Marian apparitions, and ended up not recognising them. This asserts and underlines the value and honour attributed to confirmed manifestations, especially given that the Church never recognises those that could not be verified. It works to preserve the spirituality, sanctity and purity of the definite occurrences, casting away all doubts.
I hope that His Holiness Pope Tawadros and the Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod would delegate a bishop committee to investigate the alleged luminous apparition of the Holy Virgin in Deir Mawas. The committee should present its report to the Pope, and a statement by the Holy Synod should follow to categorically conclude the matter.
30 July 2020