Our Lady of Warraq

Our Lady of Warraq

Apparition of Mary above the middle dome of the Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael Church.
Location Giza, Egypt
Date December 11th 2009
Type Marian Apparition

Our Lady of Warraq is believed, by some, to be a mass apparition of the Virgin Mary that occurred at the Coptic Orthodox Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael church, in Warraq al-Hadar, Giza, Egypt, in the early hours (1:00 AM – 4:00 AM) of Friday 11 December 2009.[1] Others, however, point out after an examination of the footage made that night, comparing it with other images of the church building, that the "apparition" is probably the illuminated tower (also called minaret) behind the church's domes as seen from different angles, and is an instance of pareidolia.[2]


The first person who saw the alleged apparition of Mary was reportedly a Muslim neighbour. He was said to be sitting at his local coffee shop when he apparently saw a strong light coming from the Coptic Orthodox place of worship. He and others are said to have observed the light condense into a female form.[3]

Mary supposedly appeared above the middle dome of the church. The purported apparition is then said to have moved between the domes and on to the top of the church gate between its two twin towers in front of the central church building. Many local residents reported seeing the alleged apparition of Mary.[4]

A representative of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria has approved the apparitions.[5]

Critical evaluation of the events

Mary allegedly appeared in luminous robes, in a pure white dress and a royal blue belt, with a crown on her head. Critics have pointed out that this colour pattern perfectly matches the colour pattern of the lights on top of and inside the tower behind the church's domes, i.e. a golden illuminated cross on top of the tower and blueish-white and yellowish-white electric light sources inside the tower.

Cell phones were used to call friends, take pictures and make videos of the phenomenon and send them to friends. Critics have suggested that the overexposed and blurry quality of the pictures and footage being sent around on cell phones, facilitated the illusory perception of a figure, when in fact all people were looking at were low-quality images of the illuminated church tower behind the domes.

Critics have suggested that the alleged apparition is actually the tower (or 'minaret', which is a common feature not only of Egyptian mosques but also of Coptic churches) behind the church's domes with bright lights inside and on top of it, seen from different angles (see Figure 2).

The video "Debunking Mary Apparition in Warraq, Egypt" lays out the case for this natural explanation and shows how regular sharp and normally exposed images of the church tower can be turned into almost exact matches of the "apparition" images by blurring and brightening the regular images of the tower to match the images made on the day of the alleged apparition.

The claim that the "apparition" moved is not substantiated by any of the film footage, which never shows any actual movement, only three apparently different locations. One film shows an elongated light above the middle dome, which critics say is the back tower seen from an angle that aligns it with the aforementioned middle dome. Another film shows the same elongated light to the right of the middle dome of the church, which critics say is the same illuminated tower seen from an angle that puts it between the middle dome and the dome to its right. A third film shows the same elongated light apparently standing on top of the entrance gate, but this can be argued to be the same back tower observed from standing almost right in front of the entrance gate. The fact that the "apparition" appears smaller in this third film is consistent with this interpretation (see Figure 3).

In response to the claim that the authorities turned off the electricity to the area to rule out a hoax or fraud, critics have said that one plausible explanation is that other power sources, such as generators, could have been used to power a bright light in the back minaret. Additional evidence that the "apparition" is actually the electrically illuminated tower is that footage from the night of the "apparition" seems to show the light being switched off inside the tower.[6]

Press coverage

This event was widely covered by Egyptian newspapers, Arabic TV channels and by the international press.[7] The news about the apparitions appeared in multiple newspapers, including the Egyptian Watani, American Los Angeles Times,[8] Egyptian Al-Ahram,[9] Italian AsiaNews,[4] Egyptian Almasry Alyoum,[10] and Egyptian Bikya Masr.[11]

A December 24, 2009 Agence France Presse (AFP) article recounted nightly gatherings bringing crowds of up to 10,000 people to watch the tower in anticipation of the "mysterious light over the church tower," which upon its appearance each night "jolt[ed] the gathering into a frenzy of cries an ululations."[12] This article was duplicated by several news agencies, including the Assyrian International News Agency,[3] Sudan Vision Daily,[13] Daily Star (Lebanon),[14] and British Middle East Online.[15]


  1. Anba Theodosius, Bishop-General of Giza. "Statement from Giza Coptic Orthodox Bishopric". Archived from the original on October 15, 2010.
  2. "Virgin Mary Apparition at Egyptian Coptic church debunked, believers not persuaded".
  3. 1 2 Dec 25, 2009,. "Glimpse of Hope for Egypt's Christians".
  4. 1 2 Dec 29, 2009,. "Christians see Our Lady in the lights that appear in the sky above Cairo".
  5. Hazel Heyer, Jan 04, 2010,. "Virgin apparition over Christmas". Archived from the original on 2012-04-01.
  6. Footage apparently showing light being switched off inside the church tower, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOCQeYECWU0&t=4m29s
  7. "Apparitions of the Blessed Holy Virgin Mary at El-Warraq Coptic Orthodox Church, Greater Cairo, Egypt. December 2009".
  8. Amro Hassan, Dec 15, 2009,. "EGYPT: Is it the Virgin Mary or just a curious flash of light?". Los Angeles Times.
  9. Sherine Nasr, Dec 17-23, 2009,. "Crowds flock to Giza as news spreads of an apparition of the Virgin Mary".
  10. Dec 25, 2009,. "State papers focus on swine flu, independent papers cover Gaza, and MB". Archived from the original on 2013-01-16.
  11. Morris Sadek, Dec 21, 2009,. "The Holy Virgin Mary appears in Egypt". Archived from the original on 2011-06-28.
  12. Salem, Mona (24 December 2009). "Virgin Mary sighting a glimpse of hope for Egypt Christians". Agence France-Presse. Archived from the original on 9 October 2010. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  13. Dec 27, 2009,. "Virgin Mary Sighting a Glimpse of Hope for Egypt Christians". Archived from the original on 2011-09-28.
  14. Dec 29, 2009,. "Late nights in Egypt with the 'Virgin Mary'".
  15. Dec 27, 2009,. "Virgin Mary sighting provides hope for Egypt Christians".

See also

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