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Church History & Miracle of Holy Oil

The altars and Icons at St. Mark Church in Cleveland were consecrated on Sunday, October 1, 1989, during my pastoral visit to the Coptic churches in the United States.

On the feast of St. Athanasius the Apostolic on May 15, 1990, His Grace Bishop Tadros of Port Said visited the church in Cleveland. While traditional prayers were being conducted inside the church, oil seeped from the Icon of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, holding the Lord Jesus in her arms. Everyone attending witnessed this. The same thing also happened on the feast day of the consecration of the church of St. Demiana at the Barari by Pope Alexander (19) : oil seeped once more from the same Icon as well as from the Icon of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Oil seeped also on the following dates: 5/22, 5/23, 5/24, 5/25, 5/27, 6/4, 8/11, and 8/18 of the year of 1990. Large quantities of oil had seeped, and this was witnessed by many Americans including a reporter who wrote an article in the Cleveland newspaper. No sooner had he wrote it when thousands had flocked to the church to see the oil and be blessed by the seeping icons.

The media gave the matter utmost attention; local TV channels: 3, 5, 8, 43, and 61, as well as NBC from which CNN derived the news, the latter being two National TV channels came to the church to report this phenomenon. Radio channels also broadcast many programs covering this phenomenon, while many religious magazines published various articles in this regard.

On the day of the Feast of the Cross of September 19, 1990 oil seeped again. Oil also seeped on October 8, 15, 16, and 23, 1990. It happened that the oil seeped from the face of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary on both icons in the presence of His Grace Bishop Thomas of Koussia. Oil seeped also on other days like November 18, 1990.

Very Reverend Father Mikhail, the church's pastor, had stated in a report submitted in this regard, that the number of visitors to the church had reached 27,000 persons of various denominations and religious beliefs and coming from different parts of the United States.

In this report, Very Reverend Father Mikhail provided statements about miraculous healings that resulted from the seeping oil from the Icons in the church. Such statements have been written by the persons themselves to whom such miracles had happened, many being Americans and non Copts. An example of such cases is that of a youth by the name of Anthony Mikhail Dillio who recovered after he was involved in a near fatal accident on July 28, 1990. Another example is that of a young boy by the name of Bobby Collette who also recovered, after being anointed by the oil, from urinary retention without having to undergo imminent surgery. Other examples are those of Francis Picarek who regained his sight after all hope was lost and of the young Coptic Orthodox girl Annetta Gad's healing without the surgery required for the healing process. Many other miracles of healings were recorded in Very Reverend Father Mikhail's report.

The following are our remarks regarding this phenomenon:

1. Oil seeped from Icons consecrated with the Holy Oil which does not happen to non-consecrated Icons.

2. Oil seeped during church services and in the presence of one of the bishops, and this happened repeatedly.

3. The oil has attracted people to the church rather than kept them away from it. People are anointed with the oil inside the body of the church by one of the bishops or the priests.

4. This phenomenon does not happen to one particular person as an individual, but it concerns the church as a whole.

5. The spiritual life of the congregation has been revived.

6. This phenomenon has added a good dimension to the report of the Coptic Orthodox Church among the churches of the world as had previously the appearance of the Virgin Mary in the church bearing her name in Zeitoun and in the church of St. Demiana in Pappadopolo in the years 1968 and 1986 consecutively.

7. Oil seeped on the feast days of popular saints of our church as well as on the feast day of the Cross and it happened in a church consecrated and dedicated to St. Mark, our patron saint. All this binds the congregation to the saint of the church, its traditions, its rites, and its fathers like St. Mark, Pope Alexander, and Pope Athanasius.

8. The miracles of the presence of incense witnessed by His Grace Bishop Hedra of Aswan during his visit to the church in Cleveland, as well as the miraculous healings, all glorifying God in His saints. His Grace Bishop Reweis, Bishop at large has submitted a report regarding the seeping of the oil and the miracles associated with it. Another report was submitted by His Grace Bishop Missael. Reports were also submitted by His Grace Bishop Tadros and His Grace Bishop Thomas, as well as by people who experienced miraculous healings or by those surrounding them who witnessed those miracles.

Based upon what preceded, it is clear that the phenomenon of the seeping oil from the Icons in the church of St. Mark in Cleveland is a miracle that glorifies God and His saints, that augments people's faith as well as their adherence to the church, its rites, and beliefs, and will not cause them to drift away.

May God's Name be glorified in His saints forever.

Pope Shenouda III
Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark
Cairo, Egypt

May 15, 1991
(The Feast of St. Athanasius the Apostolic)

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