On the eve of Tuesday, March 25, 1986 (Baramhat 16, 1702 A.M.), the Holy Virgin Mary started Her apparitions in the church of Saint Demiana the Martyr in Papadouplo, near El-Teraa El-Boolakia street, in the overcrowded Shoubra quarter of Cairo, Egypt. The church of Saint Demiana in Papadouplo is a very small and poor Coptic Orthodox church and the surrounding "streets" are very narrow (about 4 meters wide).
On this day, our Lady appeared beside the two towers of the church of Saint Demiana and was first seen by people living in the houses overlooking the church's towers; Her light shone in their houses and they saw Her in Her full body surrounded by a halo of light over the left (western) dome of the church. This apparition was repeated several times, then the news spread and people from all sects and religions came to see the apparitions. The very narrow streets surrounding the church became overcrowded with thousands of night vigils (see figure on the right) praying and singing doxologies, liturgies and hymns to the Mother of True Light for whole nights.
The crowds gathered in front of Saint Demiana church in Shoubra quarter,
waiting for their turn to enter the church.
In an article published Sunday, April 13, 1986 in issue 1268 of the Egyptian weekly Watani newspaper on pages 1 and 5, Mr. Mosaad Sadek wrote:
Spiritual phenomena seen by thousands in Shoubra quarter
Some of the inhabitants of the houses around the church said that they saw flashes of light shining over the church starting a few months ago, but nobody reflected on the matter. It was only when the Virgin appeared that they started to link the preceding events with the apparitions of the Virgin.
On Wednesday, April 9, 1986, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III issued the following papal order: (English translation follows below)
The Papal order, dated April 9, 1986.
As we have received news of spiritual phenomena occurring in the church of Saint Demiana in Papadouplo, Shoubra, we have entrusted a special committee to investigate this matter, and present a report, after examining the news we have received, and the witnesses of those who have seen unnatural phenomena in the church in Shoubra.
The committee will have the following members:
April 9, 1986
His Holiness Pope Shenouda III receiving the members
of the official committee entrusted to investigate
the apparitions at Saint Demiana church, in Papadouplo, Shoubra.
Anba Bishoy, president of the committee, Anba Paule, vice-president
of the committee and Mr. Mosaad Sadek are to the right of H.H. the Pope.
To the left of His Holiness, you can see Anba Moussa,
bishop of youth and Anba Serapion, bishop of social services.
The committee examined the accounts of eye-witnesses, and on Thursday, April 10, 1986, at midnight, the members of the Papal Delegation went to the church to watch closely the reported spiritual phenomena. They stayed there till a little before morning. At 3:40 am on the dawn of Friday, April 11, 1986, they saw the Holy Virgin in a clear form surrounded by a halo of light and the apparition continued till 5:00 am. Father Heg. Georgios Amin was also there with the committee to supervise order.
The first statement of the Papal Delegation
After the papal residence in Deir Anba Rueiss received news of unnatural phenomena occurring in the church of Saint Demiana the Martyr in Papadouplo, Shoubra, Cairo, starting on Tuesday, March 25, 1986 and uptill now (the date of the report), H.H. Pope Shenouda sent several bishops on different days to investigate the matter. His Holiness has also entrusted an official committee for the same purpose.
The committee members met on the eve of Thursday, April 10, 1986 to examine all the reports submitted by the reverend bishops, fathers and monks who have witnessed the apparitions and also reports from a large number of members of the church congregation; the committee members also read all what was written by visitors of the church from different sects who eye-witnessed unnatural spiritual phenomena like:
Let us thank the Lord for this blessing on the people of Egypt and for the repetition of these spiritual phenomena. We would also like to thank the police and the Department of the Interior for their untiring efforts at maintaining safety and good order among the thousands of people who have spent day and night at prayer. We ask all the people to remain calm. Thus they may worthily receive the blessing of the Virgin, of Saint Demiana and of all the saints. May God save our country. We pray that He may guide Egypt and all her children to every success. May this phenomenon be a pledge of well-being for them and for all nations.
Another statement from the Papal Delegation
The Papal Delegation entrusted by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III to investigate the unnatural spiritual phenomena occurring in Saint Demiana church, Shoubra, after examining these phenomena with His Holiness, declares that these apparitions are a blessing for Egypt and a blessing for the Church, and are not new in our era... The apparitions go with the Lord's saying in the book of Isaiah: "Blessed be Egypt my people." The committee, while acknowledging the big efforts of policemen to keep the order among crowds reaching tens of thousands, also thanks the people for receiving these spiritual phenomena with reverence and calmness.
However, due to the current interior state of the country these days, and the fact that this is an examinations season for students, and to let all people concentrate on worship in these last days of the Holy Lent and Week of Passion of our Lord, we ask all our children to take all these matters into consideration when they come to take the blessings of the church, by praying inside and leaving instead of gathering in crowds by night in the surrounding streets.
We are contented to take from these apparitions their blessings, the satisfaction of the saints and the positive action of these matters in our hearts, and at the same time keep the order taking into consideration the current circumstances in our country.
And blessed are those children who obey.
The Papal Delegation
April 16, 1986
Bermuda 8, 1702 A.M.
Report of the Papal Delegation presented to the Holy Synod assembled on June 21, 1986 and headed by H.H. Pope Shenouda III
On Saturday, Baramhat 27, 1702 A.M., the 5th of April 1986, Father Heg. Abdel Messih El-Sherbeeni and Father Samuel Younan, the priests of Saint Demiana church in Papadouplo, El-teraa El-Boolakia, Shoubra, Cairo, informed Pope Shenouda III of the occurrence of apparitions of the Blessed Holy Virgin Mary and other saints, associated with other spiritual phenomena in the church.
H.H the Pope entrusted Anba Paule, now bishop of Tanta and Anba Saweros, bishop of El-Moharaq Monastery to go to the church and investigate the matter on site. The two bishops immediately went to the church and remained there till the morning and each of them presented a report to H.H. the pope affirming their personal witness of supernatural spiritual phenomena, and they reported what eye-witnesses have said, all giving the same details of apparitions of the Blessed Holy Virgin Mary and other saints starting on the eve of Tuesday, 16 Baramhat, 1702 A.M., the 25th of March, 1986.
On the 9th of April, 1986, H.H. Pope Shenouda III officially entrusted a special committee to investigate the subject. On the eve of this same day (April 9), the members of the committee went to the church and remained there till the morning and saw the Apparition of the Holy Virgin Mary and the various accompanying spiritual phenomena. The committee went to the church on several occasions thereafter and the apparitions of the Blessed Holy Virgin and spiritual phenomena were repeated. These apparitions were accompanied by miraculous cure of numerous sick persons with diagnosed hopeless medical cases, like the return of sight to the blind or to persons who have suffered ophthalmic diseases for long years and have impaired sight, or the cure of patients with chronic kidney disease, heart disease and all other bodily organs' affections, many of these patients were appointed to undergo surgical operations after failure of all other methods of medical treatment.
The apparitions of the Blessed Holy Virgin in Saint Demiana church in El-teraa El-Boolakia, Shoubra were unique in that:
The last two lines of the official report presented to the Holy Synod
of the Coptic Orthodox Church on June 21, 1986,
and formally approving the apparitions; the signatures
of the members of the Papal Delegation are also seen.
Some of the forms of the apparitions, as published in Watani newspaper of April 20, 1986 and as reported by eye-witnesses:
One of the innumerable miracles that occurred during the apparitions of our Lady in Saint Demiana church, Papadouplo, Shoubra is the following miracle which was published in Watani weekly newspaper on Sunday, June 1st, 1986 (P. 5, 3rd column):
The mother of Theresa Soliman Youssef (6 years old) reports the miracle that the Blessed Holy Virgin Mary did to her daughter: Theresa had lost vision in her right eye after a tricot needle pierced this eye and injured the cornea and eye lens, causing traumatic cataract. The girl was unable to see using this eye; this occurred on November 17, 1984.
On December 5, 1984, the child was operated upon to remove the destroyed lens in order to use an external replacement contact lens thereafter, but the right eye condition deteriorated due to a secondary purulent infection. Theresa's mother continues saying:
On Sunday, May 18, 1986, I took my daughter and we went to Saint Demiana church in El-Teraa El-Boolakia, Shoubra. After receiving the Holy Communion, we ascended to the church's balcony and stood there with the crowd. And suddenly, a strong light shone from the right side of the veil of the altar. My daughter raised her hand towards the source of light, then wiped her sick eye with her palm and suddenly shouted exultantly:
I can see mother... I can see mother!
She could put her hand over her left (good) eye and still see with her right eye which was once blind.
Dr. Fayez Akhnoukh, who also serves at Saint Demiana church, examined the child, tested the visual acuity of both of her eyes, and found that the girl could now see using her right eye which was healed miraculously. Father Raphael El-Anba Bishoy who was at this time helping Father Heg. Abdel Messih El-Sherbeeni, the church priest, has recorded and documented this miracle.