Seven Days With Mary by M. Brown A week of devotions to special sites that involved the Virgin Mary. Special prayer and histories of historic and hidden apparitions and visions!  Photos. Journey to remote sites you've never heard of or learn some hidden facts about places you have! A new prayer book that's like going on retreat. Each section has the history of a major apparition and a long prayer that includes novenas, special supplications, and litanies. CLICK HERE  'Life Missions, Family Healing' on Kindle or Nook; 'The Other Side' on Kindle or Nook; The God of Miracles (Kindle and Nook); 'Tower of Light' Kindle or Nook; The Spirits Around Us on Kindle or Nook; The Seven: Kindle;  After Life on Kindle or Nook


 
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From the Middle East:

BLESSED VIRGIN HAS BEEN SURPRISING PRESENCE ACROSS BREADTH OF MUSLIM-DOMINATED REGION

By Michael H. Brown

OUR LADY OF DAMASCUSCurrently I'm in Israel (your prayers appreciated; I'll be writing of this shortly) and it causes me to reflect on the Blessed Mother's role and presence -- or lack thereof -- in this part of the world.

That is, one ponders the fact that in the Middle East, Mary has less of a presence than just about any other inhabited part of the globe, even though she was born and grew up and gave birth to Jesus here.

Across Europe are so many shrines dedicated to her that no one has an accurate reckoning of them. In Russia and other parts of the former U.S.S.R. are sacred places built for Marian devotion. In the U.S. countless churches named for her. Legends and phenomena attached to her predominate in Mexico, South America, and now even Africa.

But as for the Middle East:

We think of the fact that Israel is a Jewish state and the Judaic faith does not acknowledge Christ as Savior and we also think of how Arabs -- mainly Muslims -- dominate the rest of the region, including parts of Israel itself (particularly Bethlehem).

It is certainly not a Catholic region. On her home terrain, in the Middle East, she has just about no modern presence.

Or does she?

As it turns out, while an active presence is not as up-front as in so many areas, no place in the world is devoid of her phenomena, and that includes this one.

There have been reports of Marian phenomena in Israel itself; a painting of her has wept here; and in 1983 there was the case of an image of her that mysteriously appeared on a wall at Beit Sahour, Bethlehem.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Lebanon, hundreds of Lebanese people visited the Christian cemetery of Tyre to pray before the statue of the Virgin Mary that according to many eyewitnesses exuded oil (source: líOrient-Le Jour, Lebanon).

There also have been reputed major Marian phenomena including apparitions with dramatic messages in Mosul, Iraq (which -- interestingly enough -- later came under incredible barrage during the war, with most of the Catholics chased out of the country or killed) and Syria (with another exuding icon of her). Likewise was there a report of phenomena in Marjeyoun, Lebanon, during an Israeli attack.

Lately phenomena associated with Mary have been reported in Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt -- this after after a major massacre of Coptic Christians (27 dead, dozens wounded) in Maspero (a section of the metropolitan Cairo area). There, in sketchy reports, she was described as appearing with a luminosity like the moon (though there was no moon that night).

The Apparitions Of Virgin Mary At Zeitoun Church, EgyptAs one blogger from there reported on October 22: "Today one of the soldiers came and approached me. I thought maybe I was doing or sitting in an area I should not have been, but he addressed me as 'Doctora' so I knew he had seen me their before. He asked me if I knew of the events the night before. I was a little concerned because I had gone out without my security team. I thought maybe he wanted me to return to my flat. When I asked him what the issue was or what had happened he told me about the apparitions. 

"I was stunned for I had not heard anything. This Muslim soldier told me about how the Blessed Mother had been seen last night in three separate areas. She was seen simultaneously at the church in Alexandria and Mosque where people had been attacked last December. Then, on top of that, she had been seen at a church in Aswan. He told me her message was that she loved Egypt and wanted her people to come together and pray. Many times people do not realize that the Muslims consider the Virgin Mary special.  Anyway, he pulled out his cell phone and began to show me the video feed and pictures. It was an odd sight to have this Muslim military soldier with his rather large gun strapped to his back talking and showing me pictures on his phone."

The phenomena seem to have resembled the luminous sights reported off and on now in the Cairo area since the 1960s, when she appeared on the roof of a Coptic church in Zeitoun (left, also in the general area, and where she apparently is appearing again).

That has been followed by highly similar luminosities seen in at least half a dozen other places in the general Cairo region during subsequent years, including December 10, 2009, in Al-Warrak, a poor working class neighborhood of the Egyptian capital, as a 10,000-strong crowd silently stared upward. "The first person to spot the sighting of the Virgin Mary was a Muslim neighbor," an Orthodox Church newsletter reported at the time -- two years ago. "'He took a video and pictures and distributed them to everyone,' said Father Fishay, a priest at the Warrak church, describing how he first heard of the apparition.

"Hassan, the Muslim neighbor, was sitting at his local coffee shop when at around 8:30 p.m., he saw a strong light coming from the church. Others on the street began to notice the light and saw a bird circling above the church. At around two a.m., a vision of the Virgin Mary in her white and blue robes appeared, Fishay said."

While the 1968 sightings were related by some as connected to the Egyptian defeat during war with Israel (they occurred between the Six-Day and Yom Kippur conflicts), it's not certain what some of the subsequent appearances may imply, for no messages were given (although the 2009 appearances could be seen as a preparation for the great upheaval and indeed revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarack earlier this year [2011]).

Some of the disturbances rose right in the neighborhood of the apparitions.

At the most recent events, a voice was said to have been heard from the sky; we are trying to learn details.

H. H. Pope Shenouda III with Rev. Fr. Boutros Gayed

Meanwhile, as for her general presence, let me note that Turkey is where one of the very holiest sites connected to Mary -- her house in Ephesus -- is located (with most pilgrims Muslims!).

In Portugal is the great site of Fatima -- a town named after the daughter of a Muslim chieftain who once ruled the vicinity (before the Muslims were forced out) and whose daughter in her turn had been named after Mohammed's daughter. Archbishop Fulton Sheen believed that Our Lady of Fatima would have a role in the conversion of Muslims!

So even here -- where it doesn't seem like she had a presence -- she has had a huge impact.

Muslims have a special, even peculiar respect for the Blessed Mother -- who is honored in the Koran, where she is directly or indirectly mentioned 34 times. "Mary's childhood, as seen through the Koran narration and Islamic tradition, is entirely a miracle," notes L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's newspaper. "Mary grows under direct divine protection, she is nourished daily by angels (III, 32), and has visions of God every day. Everything contributes to making her and her Son a signum for mankind." 

Notes another commentator: "The third chapter of the Koran places the history of Maryís family in a genealogy that goes back through Abraham, Noah, and Adam. When one compares the Koranís description of the birth of Mary with the apocryphal Gospel of the birth of Mary, one is tempted to believe that Mohammed very much depended upon the latter.

"Both books describe the old age and the definite sterility of Anne, the mother of Mary. When, however, Anne conceives, the mother of Mary is made to say in the Koran: 'O Lord, I vow and I consecrate to you what is already within me. Accept it from me.' When Mary is born, her mother, Anne, says: 'And I consecrate her with all of her posterity under thy protection, O Lord against Satan!' The Koran has also verses on the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity. Angels are pictured as accompanying the Blessed Mother and saying, 'O Mary, God has chosen you and purified you, and elected you above all the women of the earth."'"

 

[Michael Brown will be in the Mideast for the next week]

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