The Church of the Virgin Mary at Zeitoun district, East Cairo (Photo: Ahram)
Egypt's Housing Minister Essam El-Gazar and Cairo Governor Khaled Abdel-Aal discussed on Monday the renovation work being carried out on the Church of the Virgin Mary in the Cairo district of Zeitoun.
El-Gazar said that the political leadership is keen on renovating the church given its historical significance and the services it provides to residents in the area.
The meeting tackled development plans for the church and how to ease traffic congestion in the surrounding area during the renovation.
The meeting was attended by a number of lawmakers and clergy, who praised the state's keenness to renovate the church.
The church was built by wealthy Coptic Christian Tawfik Khalil Ibrahim in 1924 under the supervision of Italian architect Leomingelli.
It was built as a smaller version of the famous Hagia Sophia church in Istanbul based on a vision Ibrahim's late father had, where the Virgin Mary told him she would appear at the church in Zeitoun after 40 years.
Known as the apparition church, it was consecrated during the Holy Mass on Sunday 29 June 1925. It is widely believed that the church's site is one of the locations where the Holy Family of Jesus Christ stayed during their journey through Egypt.
Starting April 1968, witnesses reported seeing a Marian apparition at the church repeatedly over a period of two to three years.