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The Virgin Made Visible: Intercessory Images of Church Territory in Egypt

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 March 2012

Angie Heo*
Affiliation:
The Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry, Emory University

Extract

In the dark midnight hours of 11 December 2009, the Virgin Mary (al-‘adhra) burst into visibility against the skyline of al-Warraq, a working-class district on the neglected peripheries of Giza, Egypt. Hovering within a glowing triad of crosses, the apparition attracted spectators to the Church of the Virgin and the Archangel Michael along the main thoroughfare, Nile Street, even in the inconvenient hours between dusk and dawn. Within days, the Virgin was being discussed far and wide by Christians and Muslims, Egyptians and foreigners, skeptics and believers. Reactions were diverse: A journalist announced to his friends, “Even if the Virgin appeared before my very eyes, I would deny her.” A cab driver explained, “It is a trick, a big laser show in the sky.” A young mother urged, “Why [forbid oneself] the joy that the Virgin brings?”

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Society for the Comparative Study of Society and History 2012

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References

REFERENCES

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al-‘Azm, Sadiq Jalal. 1969. Naqd al-Fikr al-Dini (Critique of religious thought). Beirut: Dar al-Taliah.Google Scholar
Bax, Mart. 1995. Medjugorje: Religion, Politics, and Violence in Rural Bosnia. Amsterdam: VU Uitgeverij.Google Scholar
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Bourdieu, Pierre. 1991. Language and Symbolic Power. Thompson, J., ed., Raymond, G. and Adamson, M., trans. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
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Hirschkind, Charles. 2006. The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
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Hoffman, Valerie J. 1995. Sufis, Mystics, and Saints in Modern Egypt. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.Google Scholar
Hoffman, Valerie J. 1997. The Role of Visions in Contemporary Egyptian Religious Life. Religion 27, 1: 4564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ivy, Marilyn. 1995. Discourses of the Vanishing: Modernity, Phantasm, Japan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Johnston, Francis W. 1982. When Millions Saw Mary: An Account of the Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Zeitoun, Cairo, 1968–77. Devon: Augustine Publishing Co.Google Scholar
Keane, Webb. 1997. Signs of Recognition: Powers and Hazards of Representation in an Indonesian Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Klein, Holger A. 2004. Eastern Objects and Western Desires: Relics and Reliquaries between Byzantium and the West. Dumbarton Oaks Papers 58: 283314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lossky, Vladimir. 1976. The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. Crestwood: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.Google Scholar
Mahmood, Saba. 2005. Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Makari, Peter. 2007. Conflict and Cooperation Christian-Muslim Relations in Contemporary Egypt. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.Google Scholar
Meinardus, Otto. 1970. Christian Egypt, Faith and Life. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.Google Scholar
Meinardus, Otto. 1999 [1981]. Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.Google Scholar
Messick, Brinkley. 1996. The Calligraphic State: Textual Domination and History in a Muslim Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Milbank, John. 1997. The Word Made Strange: Theology, Language, Culture. Wiley-Blackwell Press.Google Scholar
al-Miskeen, Matta. 1952. Hayat al-Salaat. Wadi al-Natrun: St. Macarious Monastery Press.Google Scholar
Mittermaier, Amira. 2011. Dreams that Matter: Egyptian Landscapes of the Imagination. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Mondzain, Marie Jose. 2005. Image, Icon, Economy: Byzantine Origins of the Contemporary Image. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
Morcos, Samir. 2002. Al-ta'lim al-dini al-masihi. Al-bidayat wal-masarat. Al-Dimuqratiyya 2, 8: 8796.Google Scholar
Nelson, Cynthia. 1973. The Virgin of Zeitoun. Worldview 16, 9: 511.Google Scholar
Olds, Katrina. 2009. Visions of the Holy in Counter-Reformation Spain: The Discovery and Creation of Relics in Arjona, c. 1628. In Christian, William and Klaniczay, Gábor, eds., The ‘Vision Thing’: Studying Divine Intervention. Budapest: Collegium Budapest Workshop Series.Google Scholar
Pandolfo, Stefania. 1997. Impasse of the Angels: Scenes from a Moroccan Space of Memory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Pentcheva, Bissera. 2004. Visual Textuality: The Logos as Pregnant Body and Building. Res: Journal of Anthropology and Aesthetics 45: 225–38.Google Scholar
Philipp, Thomas. 1988. Nation State and Religious Community in Egypt—The Continuing Debate. Die Welt des Islams 28, 4: 379–91.Google Scholar
Rancière, Jacques. 2006. The Politics of Aesthetics. New York: Continuum Press.Google Scholar
Sassen, Saskia. 2006. Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Scheer, Monique. 2009. Taking Shelter under Mary's Mantle: Marian Apparitions in the Early Cold War Years, 1947–1953. In Christian, William and Klaniczay, Gábor, eds., The ‘Vision Thing’: Studying Divine Intervention. Budapest: Collegium Budapest Workshop Series.Google Scholar
Scheer, Monique. 2011. Balancing the Many and the One: Processes of Recognition and Image-Making in Marian Apparition Sites in the 20th Century. Paper presented at the conference “Catholicism and the Visual Study of Religions,” Duke University, Durham, 15–16 Apr.Google Scholar
Sha'lan, Husayn. 1986. Jerusalem and the Copts. Journal of Palestine Studies 15, 4: 178–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sharkey, Heather. 2008. American Evangelicals in Egypt: Missionary Encounters in an Age of Empire. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Shenoda, Maryann. 2007. Displacing Dhimmi, Maintaining Hope: Unthinkable Coptic Representations of Fatimid Egypt. International Journal of Middle East Studies 39, 4: 587601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Shryock, Andrew. 1997. Nationalism and the Genealogical Imagination: Oral History and Textual Authority in Tribal Jordan. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Tadros, Mariz. 2009. Vicissitudes in the Entente between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the State in Egypt (1952–2007). International Journal of Middle East Studies 41, 2: 269–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Telfer, William. 1953. Episcopal Succession in Egypt. Journal of Ecclesiastical History 3: 113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Telfer, William. 1955. Meletius of Lycopolis and Episcopal Succession in Egypt. Harvard Theological Review 48, 4: 227–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Turner, Victor and Turner, Edith. 1978. Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture: Anthropological Perspectives. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
Valtchinova, Galia. 2009. Re-inventing the Past, Re-enchanting the Future: Visionaries and National Grandeur in Interwar Bulgaria. In Christian, William and Klaniczay, Gábor, eds., The ‘Vision Thing’: Studying Divine Intervention. Budapest: Collegium Budapest Workshop Series.Google Scholar
Van der Veer, Peter. 1994. Religious Nationalism: Hindus and Muslims in India. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
The Virgin in Zeitoun. 1968. Official Report of Papal Commission in 1968. Led by Bishop Gregorious, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate. Cairo: n.p.Google Scholar
Voegelin, Eric. 1962. World-Empire and the Unity of Mankind. Royal Institute of International Affairs 38, 2: 170–88.Google Scholar
Voegelin, Eric. 1974. Order and History. Vol. 4: The Ecumenic Age. Baton Rouge: Louisiana Press.Google Scholar
Zaki, Pearl. 1977. Our Lord's Mother Visits Egypt in 1968 and 1969. Cairo: Dar El Alam El Arabi.Google Scholar
al-Yowm, Al-Qahira, 23 Dec. 2009, Al Yowm Television Channel.Google Scholar
al-Kineesa, Nabd, 20 Dec. 2009, Al-Aghapy Television Channel.Google Scholar
Abu el-Haj, Nadia. 2001. Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Abu-Lughod, Lila. 2005. Dramas of Nationhood: The Politics of Television in Egypt. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Afifi, Muhammad. 1999. The State and the Church in Nineteenth-Century Egypt. Die Welt des Islams 39, 3: 273–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
el-Amrani, Issandr. 2006. The Emergence of a “Coptic Question” in Egypt. Middle East Report Online, 28 Apr. (no longer available from the web without a subscription).Google Scholar
Anderson, Benedict. 1991 [1983]. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso.Google Scholar
Ansari, Hamied N. 1984. Sectarian Conflict in Egypt and the Political Expediency of Religion. Middle East Journal 38: 397418.Google Scholar
Asad, Talal. 1986. The Idea of an Anthropology of Islam. Washington, D.C.: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, Occasional Paper.Google Scholar
Asad, Talal. 2003. Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
al-‘Azm, Sadiq Jalal. 1969. Naqd al-Fikr al-Dini (Critique of religious thought). Beirut: Dar al-Taliah.Google Scholar
Bax, Mart. 1995. Medjugorje: Religion, Politics, and Violence in Rural Bosnia. Amsterdam: VU Uitgeverij.Google Scholar
Blackbourn, David. 1994. Marpingen: Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in a Nineteenth-Century German Village. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
Bourdieu, Pierre. 1991. Language and Symbolic Power. Thompson, J., ed., Raymond, G. and Adamson, M., trans. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Bowman, Glenn. 1993. Nationalising the Sacred: Shrines and Shifting Identities in the Israeli-Occupied Territories. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 33, 3: 431–60.Google Scholar
Brown, Peter. 1981. The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Carroll, Michael P. 1992. The Cult of the Virgin Mary: Psychological Origins. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Castelli, Elizabeth. 2007. Martyrdom and Memory: Early Christian Culture Making. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
Christian, William A. 1981. Apparitions in Late Medieval and Renaissance Spain. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Christian, William A. 1996. Visionaries: The Spanish Republic and the Reign of Christ. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Claverie, Élizabeth. 2003. Les guerres de la Vierge: une anthropologie des apparitions. Paris: Gallimard.Google Scholar
Cohen, Raymond. 2008. Saving the Holy Sepulchre: How Rival Christians Came Together to Rescue Their Holiest Shrine. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Crapanzano, Vincent. 1973. The Hamadsha: A Study in Moroccan Ethnopsychiatry. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Davis, Stephen. 2004. The Early Coptic Papacy: The Egyptian Church and Its Leadership in Late Antiquity (Popes of Egypt). Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.Google Scholar
Davis, Stephen. 2008. Coptic Christology in Practice: Incarnation and Divine Participation in Late Antique and Medieval Egypt. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
de Certeau, Michel. 1992. The Mystic Fable: The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
de la Cruz, Deirdre. 2009. Coincidence and Consequence: Marianism and the Mass Media in the Global Philippines. Cultural Anthropology 24, 3: n.p.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Demus, Otto. 1988. The Mosaic Decoration of San Marco, Venice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Engelke, Matthew. 2007. A Problem of Presence: Beyond Scripture in an African Christian Church. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Fawzy, Sameh. 2009. Hizb Qibty … Kayf wa Limatha?! Roz al-Youssef, 20 Nov.: n.p.Google Scholar
al-Gawhary, Karim. 1996. Copts in the “Egyptian Fabric.” Middle East Report Online, Fall 1996 (no longer available from the web without a subscription).Google Scholar
Geary, Patrick. 1991 [1978]. Furta Sacra: Thefts of Relics in the Central Middle Ages. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Gilsenan, Michael. 1973. Saint and Sufi in Modern Egypt: An Essay in the Sociology of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Griffith, Sidney. 2001. ‘Melkites,’ ‘Jacobites’ and the Christological Controversies in Arabic in Third/Ninth-Century Syria. In Thomas, D., ed., Syrian Christians under Islam: The First Thousand Years. Leiden: Brill, 955.Google Scholar
Hanks, William. 1990. Referential Practice: Language and Lived Space among the Maya. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Hasan, S. S. 2003. Christians versus Muslims in Modern Egypt: The Century-Long Struggle for Coptic Equality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Haykal, Mohamed Hassanein. 1994. Egypt's Copts Are no Minority but Part and Parcel of Egypt's Human Cultural Fabric. Al-Ahram, 22 Apr.: n.p.Google Scholar
Hirschkind, Charles. 2006. The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
Ho, Engseng. 2007. The Two Arms of Cambay: Diasporic Texts of Ecumenical Islam in the Indian Ocean. Journal of the Social and Economic History of the Orient 50, 2–3: 347–61.Google Scholar
Hoffman, Valerie J. 1995. Sufis, Mystics, and Saints in Modern Egypt. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.Google Scholar
Hoffman, Valerie J. 1997. The Role of Visions in Contemporary Egyptian Religious Life. Religion 27, 1: 4564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ivy, Marilyn. 1995. Discourses of the Vanishing: Modernity, Phantasm, Japan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Johnston, Francis W. 1982. When Millions Saw Mary: An Account of the Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Zeitoun, Cairo, 1968–77. Devon: Augustine Publishing Co.Google Scholar
Keane, Webb. 1997. Signs of Recognition: Powers and Hazards of Representation in an Indonesian Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Klein, Holger A. 2004. Eastern Objects and Western Desires: Relics and Reliquaries between Byzantium and the West. Dumbarton Oaks Papers 58: 283314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lossky, Vladimir. 1976. The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. Crestwood: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.Google Scholar
Mahmood, Saba. 2005. Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Makari, Peter. 2007. Conflict and Cooperation Christian-Muslim Relations in Contemporary Egypt. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.Google Scholar
Meinardus, Otto. 1970. Christian Egypt, Faith and Life. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.Google Scholar
Meinardus, Otto. 1999 [1981]. Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.Google Scholar
Messick, Brinkley. 1996. The Calligraphic State: Textual Domination and History in a Muslim Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Milbank, John. 1997. The Word Made Strange: Theology, Language, Culture. Wiley-Blackwell Press.Google Scholar
al-Miskeen, Matta. 1952. Hayat al-Salaat. Wadi al-Natrun: St. Macarious Monastery Press.Google Scholar
Mittermaier, Amira. 2011. Dreams that Matter: Egyptian Landscapes of the Imagination. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Mondzain, Marie Jose. 2005. Image, Icon, Economy: Byzantine Origins of the Contemporary Image. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
Morcos, Samir. 2002. Al-ta'lim al-dini al-masihi. Al-bidayat wal-masarat. Al-Dimuqratiyya 2, 8: 8796.Google Scholar
Nelson, Cynthia. 1973. The Virgin of Zeitoun. Worldview 16, 9: 511.Google Scholar
Olds, Katrina. 2009. Visions of the Holy in Counter-Reformation Spain: The Discovery and Creation of Relics in Arjona, c. 1628. In Christian, William and Klaniczay, Gábor, eds., The ‘Vision Thing’: Studying Divine Intervention. Budapest: Collegium Budapest Workshop Series.Google Scholar
Pandolfo, Stefania. 1997. Impasse of the Angels: Scenes from a Moroccan Space of Memory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Pentcheva, Bissera. 2004. Visual Textuality: The Logos as Pregnant Body and Building. Res: Journal of Anthropology and Aesthetics 45: 225–38.Google Scholar
Philipp, Thomas. 1988. Nation State and Religious Community in Egypt—The Continuing Debate. Die Welt des Islams 28, 4: 379–91.Google Scholar
Rancière, Jacques. 2006. The Politics of Aesthetics. New York: Continuum Press.Google Scholar
Sassen, Saskia. 2006. Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Scheer, Monique. 2009. Taking Shelter under Mary's Mantle: Marian Apparitions in the Early Cold War Years, 1947–1953. In Christian, William and Klaniczay, Gábor, eds., The ‘Vision Thing’: Studying Divine Intervention. Budapest: Collegium Budapest Workshop Series.Google Scholar
Scheer, Monique. 2011. Balancing the Many and the One: Processes of Recognition and Image-Making in Marian Apparition Sites in the 20th Century. Paper presented at the conference “Catholicism and the Visual Study of Religions,” Duke University, Durham, 15–16 Apr.Google Scholar
Sha'lan, Husayn. 1986. Jerusalem and the Copts. Journal of Palestine Studies 15, 4: 178–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sharkey, Heather. 2008. American Evangelicals in Egypt: Missionary Encounters in an Age of Empire. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Shenoda, Maryann. 2007. Displacing Dhimmi, Maintaining Hope: Unthinkable Coptic Representations of Fatimid Egypt. International Journal of Middle East Studies 39, 4: 587601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Shryock, Andrew. 1997. Nationalism and the Genealogical Imagination: Oral History and Textual Authority in Tribal Jordan. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Tadros, Mariz. 2009. Vicissitudes in the Entente between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the State in Egypt (1952–2007). International Journal of Middle East Studies 41, 2: 269–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Telfer, William. 1953. Episcopal Succession in Egypt. Journal of Ecclesiastical History 3: 113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Telfer, William. 1955. Meletius of Lycopolis and Episcopal Succession in Egypt. Harvard Theological Review 48, 4: 227–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Turner, Victor and Turner, Edith. 1978. Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture: Anthropological Perspectives. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
Valtchinova, Galia. 2009. Re-inventing the Past, Re-enchanting the Future: Visionaries and National Grandeur in Interwar Bulgaria. In Christian, William and Klaniczay, Gábor, eds., The ‘Vision Thing’: Studying Divine Intervention. Budapest: Collegium Budapest Workshop Series.Google Scholar
Van der Veer, Peter. 1994. Religious Nationalism: Hindus and Muslims in India. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
The Virgin in Zeitoun. 1968. Official Report of Papal Commission in 1968. Led by Bishop Gregorious, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate. Cairo: n.p.Google Scholar
Voegelin, Eric. 1962. World-Empire and the Unity of Mankind. Royal Institute of International Affairs 38, 2: 170–88.Google Scholar
Voegelin, Eric. 1974. Order and History. Vol. 4: The Ecumenic Age. Baton Rouge: Louisiana Press.Google Scholar
Zaki, Pearl. 1977. Our Lord's Mother Visits Egypt in 1968 and 1969. Cairo: Dar El Alam El Arabi.Google Scholar
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