Ned Dougherty's visit to heaven (plus the Unbelievable Story of the Apparitions in Egypt)
Ned Dougherty opened Club Marakesh in the Hamptons in 1976. It became one of the hottest nightclubs on Long Island. He also owned a Club Marakesh in West Palm Beach, Fla., which he launched in 1978.
Dougherty enjoyed standing at the club’s entrance and selecting the “chosen ones” who he deemed beautiful or rich enough to enter his club from the long line of celebrities, sports stars, models, film and record managers, Wall Street traders, socialites and even mobsters hoping to party there each night.
On July 2, 1984, while his 37-year-old body was being worked on my EMTs, Dougherty’s spirit was catapulted up into the air, over his ambulance, then up into a tunnel where he was greeted an old friend who had been killed in Vietnam. They communicated telepathically. Eventually, Dougherty found himself in a crystalline sphere, in the presence of God and aware that his life review was about to commence. “What had I done with my life? Where was my life going? What had I done to show love of God, love of my neighbor, love of self?”
During his life review, he saw his six-month-old self sleeping comfortably in his crib. Meanwhile, his young-faced father – on the most important night of his basketball-coaching career – suffered a defeat which led to choices that dramatically impacted the whole family. During this supernatural experience, Dougherty not only saw scenes of his past life but was also treated to movie-like scenes of his future life. He even saw glimpses of End Times. He was given a dire message about the United States by St. Michael the Archangel, and was shown a little boy. That boy turned out to be Dougherty’s future son.
After his NDE, Dougherty abandoned his hedonistic lifestyle, sold his nightclubs, returned the Catholic faith of his childhood, and even lived at a monastery briefly as a visitor. Today, he usually goes to Mass daily.
On Dec. 8, 1994, more than a decade after his NDE, Dougherty was visiting a shrine to the Blessed Mother in Eastport, N.Y. on Long Island, when he saw the Lady of Light again. Appearing brighter than the sun, she smiled and spoke to him as he stood on a pathway. Dougherty had “accidentally” found the Shrine of Our Lady of the Island the previous summer. On the shrine’s property he found a clearing in the woods and panoramic view of the ocean that had previously been shown to him in a vision during his NDE.
After arriving at the shrine’s chapel and sitting in a pew, Dougherty, through an interior location, “heard” the voice of the woman say to him in a clear voice, “Go to Egypt!” though she did not say why he was to go to this predominantly Muslim country which he had not expected to visit. That same morning, after he returned home from his shrine visit, something was waiting for him in his pile of mail. “The piece of mail was an invitation to join a group on an archaeological expedition to the ancient ruins of Egypt,” Dougherty writes. Seeing that the tour was starting in just a few months, Dougherty made his reservation the same day.
With his tour group, Dougherty visited the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx, and the tomb of King Tut. He also enjoyed a cruise up the Nile. The final day of the trip was the kicker . . . a visit to a Coptic church called St. Mary's in the Zeitoun district of Cairo. Dougherty was not familiar with the story of the apparitions of a luminous Virgin Mary which had occurred there between 1968 and 1971, as witnessed by 250,000 Christians, Jews and Muslims at one time, but he learned the history on his tour bus.
When Dougherty entered the church building, a breathtaking surprise awaited him. On the wall hung a life-size portrait of the Lady of Light depicting Mary as she was seen during her apparitions in Zeitoun in the 1960s. The portrait was identical to the Lady of Light who had appeared to him on Long Island in 1994! Any doubts that had ever crossed his mind about what he had witnessed in the afterlife and in New York were forever erased. The painting also confirmed for him the identity of the Lady of Light he had encountered in Long Island on the trails of the shrine he visited. She truly was Mary, the Mother of God (she had not given her name to him previously).
History of the Apparitions at St. Mary's Church in Egypt
A Catholic cardinal expressed his belief in the authenticity of the apparitions in Egypt. Cardinal
Stephanous Sidarrous – the bishop overseeing the Catholic Copts in Egypt and beyond – stated, "It is no doubt a real
appearance...." Cardinal Stephanous issued his statement of endorsement to Pope Paul VI.
Other Catholic representatives also forwarded to the Vatican their own personal declarations of the validity of the events in Egypt. Protestant authorities in Egypt also declared the apparitions authentic. The apparitions occurred at an Egyptian church on grounds believed to have been visited by Mary, Joseph and the Child Jesus during the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt in the first century.
Millions in Egypt claim they saw the Virgin Mary walk around the roof of St. Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church as a "Lady of Light." The church's extraordinary history may explain why the Virgin would have chosen this site. In 1918, a devout Egyptian Coptic Christian named Khalil Ibrahim received a vision by a Lady of Light who told him to build a church on that land in her honor. She promised the man that if he built the church, she would return to the church in 50 years to bless the church with her presence. Sure enough, the apparitions on the church’s rooftop began 50 years later, on April 2, 1968. The apparitions continued until 1971.
On 4/2/1968, the luminous lady was first spotted on the roof by a few Muslims who were down on the ground, including a mechanic named Farouk Mohammed Atwa. The mechanic initially thought he was seeing a girl contemplating a suicidal jump off the building. He yelled, “Lady, don’t jump!” The lady, in response, rose to her feet from her kneeling position and now could be seen wearing shimmering robes. The man’s bandaged gangrenous finger was scheduled for surgical amputation the following morning, but when he pointed to her, his finger was healed.
This became the first of countless miracles at the site which were declared by investigating physicians to be inexplicable. Photographer Wagih Rizk Mata noticed that an accident-related injury to his arm was suddenly healed after he snapped two photographs of the apparition. His cure was declared inexplicable by Dr. Zarif Beshara.
The second apparition of Mary occurred a week after the first, and more evenings of apparitions followed, drawing crowds of up to a quarter million people on some nights. Sometimes Mary would appear for a few minutes and other times for many hours. There were periods of time when she was appearing every night.
“[S]ometimes she would be carrying a palm branch which she waved at the people in blessing. Sometimes she carried a cross with which she blessed people, other times just appearing radiant, shimmering, with a brilliant start in her crown, silently hovering over the church. She moved as if gliding . . .,” writes Pearl Zaki in her book Our Lord’s Mother Visits Egypt.
In her book, Zaki includes the story told to her by Coptic bishop Anba Gregorios. According to the bishop, there was a man who mocked the “silly” people who claimed that the Virgin was present. He arrived at the site and found thousands in attendance. “Suddenly, there she was in all splendor before his eyes. He fell to his knees and until now is lamenting every moment he was away from God,” Bishop Gregorios told Zaki.
Government authorities conducted a search within a 15-mile radius of the church hunting for electronic devices that could produce the moving images on the church’s rooftop but to no avail, Zaki notes: “[T]hey turned every inch . . . they became convinced of its authenticity….” Electrical power in the vicinity was cut off, but the luminous woman continued to move around the domes of church.
The Egyptian Government’s director of general information and complaints department declared that fraud had been ruled out and that investigations had resulted in “an undeniable fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary has been appearing on the Coptic Orthodox Church at Zeitoun in a clear and bright luminous body, seen by all present in front of the church, whether Christian or Moslem.”
Zaki notes a 1973 meeting in Rome of Pope Paul VI, head of the Catholic Church at the time, and the Coptic leader at the time – Pope Shenouda, III – during which the two men prayed together and celebrated the anniversary of St. Athanasius of Alexandria, a Church Father who had a leading role at the Second Council of Nicaea. During the meeting – which resulted in a declaration to work towards Church unity – the Coptic leader gave Pope Paul VI an account of the 1968 and 1969 apparitions in Zeitoun.
Five years before the historic meeting, the previous Coptic leader – Pope of Alexandria, Kyrillos VI – had declared the authenticity of the apparitions after an investigation by top Coptic officials of both the apparitions and of the associated physical miracles. The declaration was issued May 5, 1968, just one month after the first apparition.
Around the same time, Cardinal Stephanos I – a Catholic cardinal who was leader of the Catholic Copts – announced his positive report on the apparitions: “It is no doubt a real appearance, confirmed by many Coptic Catholic members of the highest integrity and reliability. They saw the Blessed Virgin’s apparition and gave me complete details and descriptions of the appearances of the blessed apparitions on the dome of the Zeitoun Church. Sister Paula de Mofalo, a Roman Catholic nun well known for her accuracy and preciseness, assured me of the certainty of the Virgin’s appearance on the dome of the Zeitoun church . . . .”
A declaration of certainty of the presence of the Virgin Mary also came from the leading Protestant authority in Egypt, namely Dr. Ibraham Said, the Head of the Evangelical Church and the Speaker on behalf of all the Protestant Churches in Egypt, according to Francis Johnston’s book, When Millions Saw Mary.
Johnston also lists the names of multiple recipients of miraculous cures as well as doctors and hospitals that confirmed miracles reported at the apparition site. The ailments cured included the blind, deaf, mute, paralyzed, and cancer patients. A paralyzed woman named Mahmoud Shoukry Ibrahim who visited the Zeitoun church felt a strange trembling sensation in her limbs when she arrived. An hour later she rose from her wheelchair and was able to walk to her husband’s car. Her miracle was confirmed by the Medical Commission established by the Coptic Church. Sami Abd-el-Malek, whose surgeon was Dr. Aziz Fam at Cairo University, was instantly healed of an incurable cancerous tumor in the bladder. Fatma Zahi Reda was cured of a life-threatening thyroid disease.
Because she was too ill to travel to the apparition site, her husband went alone to beg for a cure. When he came home, Fatima was cured – as confirmed by the Government Manial Hospital – and had just had a dream about being surrounded by beings dressed in white. At the moment a blind woman – Madiha Mohammed Said – had her vision miraculously restored, she could see the apparition of the Blessed Virgin. A doctor named William Nashed Zaki suffered from a painful hernia for three years. On the same evening that Dr. Zaki saw Mary bless the crowd, he realized the hernia had vanished by the time he arrived home.
Catholic popes do not generally make official declarations on apparitions associated with non-Catholic churches, though it is possible the Vatican would investigate further if the Coptic Christians reunited with Rome in the future. Dr. Henry Habib Ayrout, a Catholic priest and Jesuit, affirmed his belief in the authenticity of the apparitions as did a convent of nuns of the Sacred Heart order in Egypt. Father Ayrout was rector of the College College of the Holy Family (Collège de la Sainte Famille) in Cairo, Egypt, at the time of the 1968 apparitions.
The Rev. Fr. Constantine Moussa, who was rector of the Coptic church at the time of the apparitions, revealed before his death in 1984 that Mary had appeared to him privately inside the church prior to the public rooftop apparitions, and told him, “Be ready!” (source)
One evening during a public apparition, Bishop Anba Anthanasius entered the church and went to the second floor to attempt to climb a ladder to the roof, but his body began shaking and so did the ladder. “He felt frozen in his tracks, unable to move, and sensing that something unusual was very close by . . . He retreated back down and back outside to see that she was standing just 3 feet from where he had been!” (source)
If you have time to peruse the article here, be sure to catch the story of the two Muslim doctors who offered a ride to a young lady heading to Zeitoun. When it was time to drop her off, the lady vanished. They saw only a dove flying out of their car. Also check out the story of the forty travelers on a truck who gave a ride to a young nun on the road with a Bible. Suddenly a bright light appeared on the truck and the nun vanished into thin air.
Also of interest is the story of the Muslim man whose house was near the apparition and who threw stones at growing crowds of pilgrims and tried to have them arrested. The Blessed Virgin appeared to him privately and “begged him not to continue in this fashion and commanded him to paint the sign of the cross on his house. Although he is still a practicing Muslim, he is now convinced of the authenticity of the visions and painted forty huge white crosses.” (source)
Why did Mary choose land in Zeitoun for her church? Tradition holds that the Holy Family rested there during their flight to Egypt as Herod executed plans to kill male babies in Israel.
The Coptic Church – which is doctrinally similar to the Catholic and Orthodox Churches – is largely based in Egypt. It became independent from the original Catholic Church in 451 A.D., separating itself due to a technicality regarding how to express the true nature of Christ. To this day, the Copts continue to have a valid priesthood, Mass, and Sacraments since they have maintained Apostolic Succession since the Apostles. The Coptic Church in Egypt should not be confused with the Coptic Catholic Church which operates in full union with Rome since it is part of the Catholic Church.
In recent centuries, the Coptic Church was officially renamed the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria to distinguish itself from both Catholic Coptics and from the Eastern Orthodox Church. Tradition holds that it was founded by the Evangelist St. Mark. The Copts consider their current leader – Pope Tawadros II, elected in 2012 – to be their 118th pope and a director successor of St. Mark the Evangelist.
Photograph of Virgin Mary: To the left is a photo of St. Mary’s Orthodox Coptic Church on an evening when many eyewitnesses watched a luminous human figure shaped like the Virgin Mary in shimmering robes walking around the domes on the church’s rooftop.
OFFICIAL INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE APPARITIONS IN ZEITOUN
Bishop Anba Athanasius, a Coptic leader who was instructed by the Coptic pope to investigate the case, arrived on the scene only to personally witness an apparition:
“Suddenly, there she was – standing in full figure. The crowd was tremendous. It was too difficult to move among the people. But I worked my way to in front of the figure. There she was, five or six meters above the dome, high in the sky, full figure – like a phosphorescent statue, but not stiff like a statue.
"There was movement of the body and clothing … Our Lady looked to the north – she waved her hand. She blessed the people, sometimes in the direction where we stood. Her garments swayed in the wind. She was quiet, full of glory. It was something really supernatural … very, very heavenly … Some people were reciting verses from the Koran. Some were praying in Greek. Others were singing Coptic hymns … I tried to distinguish the face and features … there was something about the eyes and mouth I could see … the apparition slowly faded away ….” (source: Our Lady Returns to Egypt by Fr. Jerome Palmer, O.S.B.).
Online resources on Zeitoun: www.stmaryztn.org/saintmary/(official site), Online book: When Millions Saw Mary Video documentary of Apparition in Egypt (1968-1970) Duplicate of Video Article on Apparitions of Zeitoun, Egypt , Photos and Info Real Photos of Apparitions at Zeitoun, Documentary of Zeitun narrated by Ricardo Montalban Newspaper article on Zeitoun Saint Mary’s Appearance in Assiut, Egypt (2000-2001) Eyewitnesses included Father Dr. Ayrut of Greek Catholic Church and Rev. Dr. Ibrahim Said of the Protestant Evangelical Ministries
Books on the Zeitoun apparitions that can be read for free online at www.zeitun-eg.org include: Our Lord's Mother visits Egypt in 1968 & 1969 by Pearl Zaki (1977) AND When Millions Saw Mary by Francis Johnston (1980). Other books on Zeitoun in the English language (there are many in the Arabic language) include: A Lady of Light Appears in Egypt: The Story of Zeitoun by Youssef Kamell, John P. Jackson & Rebecca Jackson (1996) AND Our Lady Returns to Egypt by Fr. Jerome Palmer, O.S.B. (1969)