Here’s a look at what believers say happened when Mary appeared in Assiut, Egypt in 2000 and 2001 in events now known as "Our Lady of Assiut":
Residents of Assiut, Egypt were awakened in the middle of the night on August 17, 2000 by an exceptionally bright light coming from Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church. Those who looked toward the church saw an apparition of Mary between the church's two towers, accompanied by large, glowing white doves (a traditional symbol of peace and the Holy Spirit) flying around her.
The apparitions continued to appear on various nights over the next several months, until January 2001. People often gathered outside the church at night to wait to see if an apparition would occur. While they waited, they prayed and sang worship songs.
Mary appeared with a face and figure of brilliant golden and white light. She most often appeared with the white doves flying nearby, and sometimes flashing blue and green lights appeared over the church as well, drawing the attention of people miles away.
Thousands of people witnessed the apparitions, and many recorded them. Some took video that they then posted on the Internet; some took photos that were published in newspapers. While Mary didn't speak during the Assiut apparitions, she did move around as if blessing people in the crowd watching.
People also reported that, during some of the church's worship services, light would emanate from a picture near the altar that showed Mary with a dove above her head, and the light would sometimes flow down out of the picture. Each time afterward, those outside the church would report seeing lights flashing above the church building.
The main miracle associated with Mary's Assiut apparitions is the powerful way it inspired peace between people of faith who had been in conflict with each other in Egypt. Christians and Muslims, who both honor Mary as the mother of Jesus Christ and as an extraordinarily faithful person, had been at odds in Egypt for years, with Muslims often persecuting Christians. After Mary's apparitions in Assiut, relationships between many Egyptians of both faiths were marked by peace rather than hostility, for a while -- just as they improved for a while after Mary's apparitions in Zeitoun, Egypt from 1968 to 1971, which also featured doves flying around the figure of Mary.
The Coptic Orthodox Church declared the apparitions themselves to be miraculous in that they were supernatural events with no natural explanation.