The Virgin Mary's Apparitions and Miracles in Assiut, Egypt

Story of the Our Lady of Assiut Apparitions in 2000 and 2001

Mary Assiut Egypt
The Holy Spirit appeared as a dove, believers say, during the Virgin Mary's "Our Lady of Assiut" apparitions in Egypt. Steve Allen / Brand X Pictures / Getty Images

Here’s the story of the apparitions and miracles of the Virgin Mary at Assiut, Egypt from 2000 to 2001, in an event known as "Our Lady of Assiut":

A Bright Light on Top of a Church Attractions Attention

Residents of Assiut, Egypt were awakened in the middle of the night on August 17, 2000 by an exceptionally bright light coming from Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church. Those who looked toward the church saw an apparition of Mary between the church's two towers, accompanied by large, glowing white doves (a traditional symbol of peace and the Holy Spirit) flying around her.

The figure of Mary emanated a brilliant white light, and so did the halo around Mary's head. Witnesses said they smelled the fragrance of incense (which symbolizes prayers from people traveling to God in heaven) while they watched the apparition.

The Apparitions Continue

The apparitions continued to appear on various nights over the next several months, until January 2001. People often gathered outside the church at night to wait to see if an apparition would occur. Since the apparitions usually took place in the middle of the night, those hoping to see them often camped out overnight on the local streets or on nearby rooftops. While they waited, they prayed and sang worship songs together.

Mary most often appeared with the white dove birds flying nearby, and sometimes flashing blue and green lights appeared over the church as well, drawing the attention of people miles away.

Thousands of people witnessed the apparitions, and many recorded them.

Some took video that they then posted on the Internet; some took photos that were published in newspapers. While Mary didn't speak during the Assiut apparitions, she did gesture toward people in the crowd. It appeared as if she was blessing them.

People also reported that, during some of the church's worship services, light would emanate from a picture near the altar that showed Mary with a dove above her head, and the light would sometimes flow down out of the picture.

Each time afterward, those outside the church would report seeing lights flashing above the church building. Lights are spiritual symbols that can mean life, love, wisdom, or hope.

People Report Miracles of Peace

The main miracle associated with Mary's Assiut apparitions is the powerful way it inspired peace between people of faith who had been in conflict with each other in Egypt. Christians and Muslims, who both honor Mary as the mother of Jesus Christ and as an extraordinarily faithful person, had been at odds in Egypt for years. After Mary's apparitions in Assiut, relationships between many Egyptians of both faiths were marked by peace rather than hostility, for a while -- just as they improved for a while after Mary's apparitions in Zeitoun, Egypt from 1968 to 1971, which also featured doves flying around the figure of Mary.

"This is a blessing for Muslims and Christians alike. It is a blessing for Egypt," an ABC News report quoted Mina Hanna, secretary of the Assiut Council of Coptic churches, commenting on the impact of the apparitions.

The Coptic Orthodox Church declared the apparitions themselves to be miraculous in that they were supernatural events with no natural explanation.

A Place Visited by the Holy Family

Before the apparitions, Assiut was already a place of spiritual pilgrimage, because it was a place reportedly visited by Mary, Jesus, and Saint Joseph while they lived in Egypt for a while during Bible times.

Assiut "is supposedly one of the places where Mary, Joseph, and the child Jesus stopped on their flight into Egypt," writes Norbert Brockman in his book Encyclopedia of Sacred Places, Volume 1. Later, he adds of a monastery in the area: "The holy family came down the Nile [River] by boat and landed at a place called Qusquam, where they lived for six months. The cave in which they stayed is the site of the Coptic monastery, a walled and fortified compound with five churches." One of those church was the site of the "Our Lady of Assiut" apparition.