Chasing Jesus & Finding a Christmas Tale

The photograph that runs with this column has been declared an official vision by bishops of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt.  It consists of a mysterious spray of light coming down from the heavens directly over the church of St. Mark in Assiut, a Nile River town about 250 miles south of Cairo.  

Egyptian legend say that it was near this spot that an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him King Herod had died.  From here, the Holy Family began the return trip to Israel that would end its five year exile in Egypt, which Egyptian or “Coptic” Christians believe began when the Holy Family crossed the border from Israel to get away from King Herod who wanted to kill the baby Jesus. 

There are a few chapters in the book of Matthew about the Holy Family fleeing the wrath of King Herod, but nothing written in the Bible about what the Holy Family did nor what they learned on their flight to Egypt.  But Egyptian Christians and Muslims have collected stories over the centuries and assembled a Holy Family Trail in their country, which includes 33 sites venerated by the Coptic Orthodox Church.

The church being bathed in light in this photo is in Assuit, the 33rd site on the trail.  Like many of the others, it has been associated with miracles since it was built more than 200 years ago.  Lights have been the miracle here.  Off and on for two centuries lights have appeared to come down from the sky directly over the church steeple.  Tens of thousands of people have seen them, and many Egyptians have captured them on film....

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