On April 2, 1968, the Blessed Mother St. Mary appeared to thousands of people in Zeitoun, Egypt. The Holy Mother of God was visible for a total span of 3 years. Christians and non- Christians alike witnessed her apparition atop the domes of the quaint church in Zeitoun. Her brilliant image left an indelible etch on the hearts of all. No one present has been able to forget it, and these chosen eyewitnesses have passed on this remarkable event since. Years later, precious physical mementos of St Mary’s apparition have been the key to keeping the miracle alive.Support Our Cause Find out more
The Zeitoun Memorial Foundation will replicate, to every detail, the actual church of St. Mary in Zeitoun, Egypt. The church replication will be a museum to house artifacts and writings of the greatest apparition of St. Mary in history.
The church museum will also house items pertaining to the heritage of the Coptic people of Egypt, the rich history of the Church of Alexandria, and its monumental influence in the Christian world. Another feature of the museum will be a history exhibit of the immigration to the United States by the actual descendants of the Pharaohs.
It is the responsibility of the Coptic Orthodox people to preserve the memory and legacy of the miracle of St. Mary’s Apparition in Zeitoun; it is to honor of God’s mercy and compassion. Doing so will honor the prayers and intercession of St. Mary on behalf of His people. The Zeitoun Memorial Project will stand as a powerful statement for generations to remember.
Along with the Zeitoun miracle, the memorial will share the deep heritage of Christianity in Egypt dating back to the year 61 A.D. with the arrival of St. Mark to Alexandria. Also to the great St. Athanasius, the defender of the faith and author of the Christian Creed, a statement of faith.
The timely immigration of the Coptic people to the United States has a beautiful history in itself, deserving recognition. The Memorial will retell the way the ancient Coptic Church has been preserved and shared in a new land.
In the land of Egypt in Zeitoun, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ came to visit in April of 1968. Zeitoun, a suburb of Cairo, borders the area that was once a part of ancient Heliopolis, (in Egyptian known as ON, in Greek known as CITY OF THE SUN). At the intersection of Tumanbay Street, the main street, and Khalil Lane in Zeitoun, there is a rather small Coptic Orthodox Church of the Virgin. Khalil Lane is named after the Khalil Ibrahim family.
It was on Tuesday night April 2, 1968, at 8:30pm when some workers at the garage across the street from the church were at the gate for the changing of shifts. There were also some women crossing the street. All of a sudden, there appeared an unusual movement up at the cross on the domes of the church. This movement attracted the attention of the women and two of the garage workers who were enjoying a cup of tea at the gate of the garage. The scene, appearing in the darkness, seemed to be of a young lady in white kneeling by the cross at the top of the dome. This scene, most unusual because the dome has a round smooth, very sloping surface, held the men and the women pedestrians as though they were nailed in their places. As they all pointed to the dome, one of the workers gave out a cry warning the person not to jump down. Since he could not see her face, he thought she was a girl trying to commit suicide. He spoke to the man next to him and everyone started to whisper. Then these whispers became warning shouts. The lady stood up. They all saw her dressed as if in a bright gown of light in a view similar to that associated with the Virgin Mary. One of the ladies gave out a very long “zagharuta” or cry of joy. They cried out,“Settena Mariam,” which means,“Our Lady Mary.” The woman began pleading for the Holy Lady’s blessings. Someone ran to get the priest and another, the rescue squad. Then the Lady vanished. One of the garage workers, who had pointed his bandaged right forefinger at Virgin Mary, had gone to have his finger surgically amputated, but when the bandages were removed, his doctor found and confirmed that his finger was completely healed.
After April 2nd, as time went on, witnesses of all different religious denominations reported seeing the Holy Virgin Mother almost nightly. From the beginning it seemed as though the Virgin Mother stepped out in front of everyone from behind an invisible curtain; as surely as she came it was only the Lord Jesus Christ who could have opened the curtain for her. The following testimony of a witness says most perfectly what was revealed: “The whole scene was bathed with a luminous halo surrounded with a blue circular frame all ablaze. Little by little the vision became more distinct until the figure of Mary became more evident to the vast multitudes that filled the space surrounding the church of Zeitoun. The luminous circle seemed to symbolize... the perfection of eternity in contra-distinction to the fragmentary limitations of our seemingly dreary mechanical measure of time.”
St. Mark was born in Cyrene, a town in North Africa. He was a young child when savage desert gangs raided the city, and his family lost their fortune. They moved to Jerusalem, where he witnessed the Lord Jesus’ miracles with his own eyes. He was one of the seventy apostles sent by the Lord to the surrounding towns, and he was also the nephew of St. Barnabas. The house of his parents is where the Last Supper took place and where the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples and apostles. His uncle St. Barnabas took him on his missionary trip to Europe, but St. Mark did not stay long with him. Instead, he went to his birthplace in North Africa to preach Christ to them. Then, he came to Egypt and arrived at the fi rst Egyptian city on the coast, which is Alexandria.
St. Athanasius was born to pagan parents between the years 295 - 298 AD. When St. Athanasius’ father died, his mother brought him to Pope Alexandros, who taught them the principles of the Christian faith and baptized them. They gave their money to the poor, and stayed with the Pope, who taught St. Athanasius the church subjects, and ordained him deacon and made him his personal secretary. The gifts of the Holy Spirit increased in him. Pope Alexandros had recommended St. Athanasius, his deacon, for the Papacy. St. Athanasius lived with St. Antonious, the Father of Monasticism, and followed his example in asceticism. His brilliancy was manifest when he refuted Arius in the universal council. Arius said about Christ that He was “similar” in essence with the Father, St. Athanasius described the Son as “One in essence with the Father.”
St. Athanasius hid himself in the mountains after the departure of Pope Alexandros for he believed he was unworthiness to this serious and important position. The people sought him until they found him, and brought him to the bishops, and he was ordained Pope in 328 AD (44 AM). After he became Pope, he ordained for Ethiopia its fi rst Metropolitan whose name was Anba Salama. The church of Ethiopia has followed the church of Alexandria since that time. The spiritual and religious state in Ethiopia had established and settled since that time. The historian Socrates testifi ed about him saying, “Athanasius’ fl uency in speech and his outspokenness in the council of Nicea brought over him all the hardships that he encountered in his life.” St. Athanasius was exiled away from his Chair fi ve times because of doctrinal heresies that he refuted. St. Athanasius perfected the Christian Orthodox creed, or statement of faith, still faithfully recited today. Although St. Athanasius reached the age of 72, he did not compromise in performing his duties. For his steadfastness and his fi rm stand for justice, the world described him by the saying: “Athanasius against the world.”
He wrote several books about the Arians, the Incarnation, and other subjects. Pope Cosmas (The 44th Patriarch) praised these publications by saying: “I ask anyone who would fi nd the books of Athanasius to write them on paper, and for those who could not fi nd paper, to write them on their clothes.” St. Athanasius was the fi rst Pope to wear the monastic tunic from the hand of St. Antonious. He made it the uniform for bishops and patriarchs. He was the one who ordained St. Antonious a priest, and then Archpriest. He departed in peace after he had been on the Apostolic throne for 45 years.
We believe in one God, God the Father the Pantocrator who created heaven and earth, and all things seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not created, of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy spirit and the Virgin Mary and became Man. And He was crucifi ed for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried. And on the third day He rose from the dead, according to the scriptures, ascended to the heavens; He sits at the right hand of his Father, and He is coming again in His glory to judge the living and the dead, Whose kingdom shall have no end.
Yes, we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Life-Giver, Who proceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorifi ed, Who spoke by the prophets.
And in one holy, catholic and apostolic church. We confess one baptism for the remission of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the coming age. Amen.
The Zeitoun Memorial Foundation was established by people, taking initiative to do their part in trying to preserve the memory of the apparition of St. Mary in Zeitoun, Egypt.
Our mission is to deepen the awareness of the most unique apparition, of our Blessed Mother, that has ever been documented in history. The museum portion will take visitors on a journey back to this precious moment in the history of the Coptic Church, when an entire community, and even nation, was brought together to take a blessing from her Apparition. Similarly, we hope to strengthen our bonds to the community by passing Saint Mary’s message of love, peace and guardianship along to all people, of all denominations and nationalities.
His Holiness, the Thrice Blessed, Pope Shenouda III (reposed in the Lord) and several honorable bishops received this concept with great enthusiasm. His Holiness applauded this project saying that it is very important to preserve these historical events, and noted that this plan is unique and unequalled in ambition, veneration, and magnitude.
On December 26th, 2014, Father Antonious met with His Holiness Pope Tawadros II in Egypt to present the concept and developments — about which His Holiness was enthusiastic and expressed an eagerness to see it’s fulfillment. At our request, His Holiness gave us a letter of blessing, encouragement, and outlined his hopes for this project.
We hope to design the museum to be a full-scale replica of the original church in Zeitoun, where our Blessed Mother appeared. We have commissioned, in Egypt, an architectural firm to create “as-built” drawings of the existing church building in Zeitoun, and a professional photographer to capture the full interior and exterior design of the building: walls, columns, icons, banisters, arches, flooring, etc.
These have been given to an architectural firm here in the United States to begin work on redrawing plans according to American Standards and New Jersey Codes. The memorial will also have an annex building to hold exhibitions and events necessary for the continual propagation of this project.
It is in our plans that all artifacts pertaining to the Apparition will be maintained by proper museum preservation techniques to ensure the conservation of the artifacts for generations to come.
There will be additional sections in the project more broadly focusing on Christianity in Egypt. We hope to shed light and increase awareness on a few historical points: how Christianity came into Egypt through St. Mark; the contributions of the Church of Alexandria (the Coptic Orthodox Church) to Christendom as a whole; the Coptic Church’s immigration to America; and the Church’s life of martyrdom.
All artifacts pertaining to the Apparition are planned to be preserved by proper museum preservation techniques to ensure the life of the artifacts for generations to come.
On January 24, 2019, Zeitoun Memorial Foundation purchased a property next door to St. Mary and St. Athanasius Coptic Orthodox Church on US Highway 206 in Hillsborough, New Jersey. The next step, now, is to begin a capital campaign to start this blessed undertaking.
It is projected that the site work — construction of the memorial church with specific material and craftsmanship — will cost five million dollars. The annex building for all support and extended activities is estimated at two and a half million dollars. The Zeitoun Memorial Foundation will also establish an endowment fund for the purpose of maintaining the overall operating expenses, maintenance, and repairs for the facilities.
This is the preservation and memorialization of the visit of the Holy Mother of God to the people of Egypt! It is our responsibility to ensure that this event lives on for generations to come. You can be a financial partner by donating to support the memorial’s purpose. You can also assist by spreading the word and encouraging as many people as you can to be a part of this blessed effort.
As a 501(C)(3) organization, your support is tax-deductible. However, it is our hope that your donations are not from your regular tithing to your local parish church but from the plenty that God gives us. Your desire to give over and above will undoubtedly be a multi-fold blessing — to you and to this project.