I would like to felicitate all of you on the commencement of the fast of Saint Virgin Mary, which began a few days ago. The fast of Saint Virgin Mary is one of the Egyptian celebrations that all Egyptians participate in, as their hearts are filled with a very special love for Saint Virgin Mary, whom religions have exalted and raised over all ages and times, fulfilling her immortal prophecy: “For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.” Religions proclaimed the dignity of Saint Virgin Mary; the Holy Bible mentions the words of Archangel Gabriel to her: “And having come in, the angel said to her, “The Lord is with you; blessed are you among women… you have found favor with God.” Also, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, beatified her saying: “Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” In the Quran, it is said: “And when the angels said, “O Mary, indeed Allāh has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds.”
The fast of Saint Virgin Mary begins on August 7, lasting for 15 days to end on her feast, falling on August 22. As previous articles mentioned, celebrating the feast of Saint Virgin Mary is connected to her departure, as God revealed the honor of her pure body as angels carried it to heaven after her departure. On Touba 21 (coinciding with 30th of January), Saint Virgin Mary departed, and the father apostles and disciples attended her burial except for Apostle Thomas, who had been in a missionary trip in India. On his way back from his mission, Thomas was granted to see the angels carrying the body of Saint Virgin Mary up to heaven! Then he met the father apostles and asked about Saint Virgin Mary, they told him she had passed away, so he asked to see her grave. They went all to find her tomb empty! Thomas then told them about that wondrous scene he had watched, so the father apostles offered a fast to God in order to see the body of Saint Virgin Mary once more, God responded to their prayers on 16th of Mesra (22nd of August), turning the day into a feast of Saint Virgin Mary.
The Copts celebrate several feasts of Saint Virgin Mary, including:
The Feast of Annunciating Her Birth
God sent Archangel Gabriel to her father Joachim the Righteous, announcing to him the birth of a baby who would become a reason of joy and rejoice to the entire world. Righteous Joachim and his wife Hannah were getting too old without having a baby, as Hannah was barren, so both of them pleaded for God, and made a vow to offer their child to the temple, then they had the annunciation of the birth of Saint Virgin Mary on 7th of Mesra (13th of August).
Saint Virgin Mary was born in the city of Judea, from the Tribe of Jude, from the House of David. When the fulfillment of time, previously assigned by God, came, the angel of the Lord was sent to her father, Joachim the Righteous while he was praying in the mount, the angel said to him: “The Lord will grant you an offspring, out of whom would come the salvation of the world”, the promise was fulfilled and the church celebrates this feast on the first day of Bashans (9th of May).
The Feast of Her Entry into the Temple
On that day, Saint Virgin Mary -at the age of three yet- was offered to the temple in Jerusalem at the House of the Virgins in order to worship in the temple and serve the Lord, as this was the vow made to God.The Church celebrates this feast on 3rd of Kiahk (12th of December).
Feast of her Coming to Egypt
A feast that distinguishes Egypt from the rest of the world countries: Saint Virgin Mary came to Egypt, carrying her baby Jesus, accompanied by Saint Joseph the Carpenter; she resided in Egypt’s suburbs for nearly three yearsand a half. The church celebrates this feast on the twenty-fourth of Bashans (the first of June).
Feast of her Apparitionat Al-Zaytoun
On 2ndof April 1968 (the twenty-fourth of Baramhat), her apparitions began on the domes of her church at Al-Zaytoun, and her apparitions continued for years, during which hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world watched her, declaring Saint Virgin Mary’s special love for Egypt and its people.
Happy feast for everyone, we are praying for God to protect Egypt from all evil, through the blessings and intercession of Saint Virgin Mary. And … Stories about beautiful Egypt never end!
The General Bishop
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center