New French film explores Marian sightings in Egypt
September 05, 2012
A new movie presented at the Cannes and Berlin film festivals, produced by an Egyptian-born French director, examines the remarkable phenomenon of “Our Lady of Zeitoun”—the reported Marian apparitions that were witnessed by tens of thousands of people in Cairo beginning in 1968.
In The Virgin, the Copts, and Me, director Namir Abdel Messeeh takes a very personal and skeptical approach to the apparitions, but uses them as a means of analyzing relationships between Coptic Christians and Muslims in Egypt, noting that both groups revere the Virgin Mary. Messeeh suggests that the apparitions—which were witnessed by President Gamal Abdel Nasser, among countless others--were somehow used by the government to promote national unity at a time when Egypt was recovering from shock of a crushing defeat by Israel in the 1967 war.
The apparitions, which were seen over a Coptic church in the Zeitoun district of Cairo, were thoroughly investigated by the Coptic Orthodox Church and by civil authorities, who could find no natural explanation for the phenomena.
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