November 26

Our Lady of Soufanieh, Damascus, Syria

On November 22, 1982, three women of different faiths -- Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Islam -- stood in prayer around a sickbed in the Soufanieh neighborhood of Damascus. Seeing light, then oil, coming from the Catholic woman's hands, the Moslem woman urged her to put them on the sick person, who was instantly healed. Thus began the spiritual career of Myrna, a member of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, then only 18 and recently married to Nicolas Nazzour, of the Antiochan Greek Orthodox Church. Five days later, oil began oozing from a small picture of Our Lady of Kazan in Myrna and Nicolas's home -- an icon both Catholics and Orthodox Christians revere, known for miracles and healings. With a year's break in 1985-86, oil flowed from the image until November 26, 1990. On December 15, 1982, Myrna saw the Virgin coming from a globe of light in a eucalyptus tree. From then on she repeatedly saw and received messages from both Mary and Jesus, until November 26, 1990, when she reported the Virgin's farewell: "... you are seeing Me for the last time until the feast is unified." Consistent with the seer's personal location in a nexus of faiths, the messages of Soufanieh call for Christian unity, including agreement on the date of Easter, historically different in the western and eastern churches. Often Myrna heard the Virgin repeat the Biblical sayings of Jesus: "Love one another. ... Forbear and forgive. ... Do not fear, I am with you." In an early message from Mary, Myrna learned the affirmation, "God saves me, Jesus enlightens me, the Holy Spirit is my life, thus I fear nothing." 

Since 1983, Myrna has occasionally suffered intense stigmatic wounds during ecstasy, visible to others during the day and completely gone by midnight. Many miracles have been attributed to the oil from her icon and hands. The position of the hierarchy on the Soufanieh devotions is unclear, supporters claiming blessings and church approval and detractors claiming fraud and church disapproval. Priests and bishops, both Catholic and Orthodox, have celebrated masses in connection with the devotions. Annual anniversary celebrations begin November 26 with mass in a church, followed by evening prayers and festivities at the Nazzours' home, with Myrna, Nicolas, their two children, relatives, friends, and followers. (Picture from Association Notre-Dame-de-Soufanieh ŕ Montréal, www.soufanieh.com; information from that and other sources.)   

Also commemorated this date:

bulletInmaculada Concepción, Alhendín, Granada, Andalucia, Spain. Statue arrived, 1656, commemorated annually; 350th anniversary 2006; processes every 5 years during Fiestas Grandes 3rd Sunday of August (2009, 2014).
bulletVirgen de las Huertas, Lorca, Murcia, Spain (Virgin of the Gardens). Statue crowned, 1944. Fiesta Sept. 8. Town patron.
bulletVirgen de Belén, San Mateo, Aragua, Venezuela. Image emerged from ground, 1709.
 

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly