Visit the “Hanging Church” in Old Cairo’s Coptic Cairo
November 9, 2022
We never told this part of the story about our travels in the middle east, but it was an important moment for John. One would never expect to experience a moment that an intervention by God can only explain; there can be no other explanation.
We arrived at The Hanging Church in Cairo, which was named for its location above a gatehouse of the Roman fortress called the Babylon Fortress. Saint Virgin Mary’s nave is suspended over a passage. We climbed the 29 steps into the church.
After a few minutes, John became very faint and sat down. He was dazed, as he later described as an “outer body experience!” We moved him to another pew away from the other visitors walking through the church. We thought he would be fine in a few minutes, but unfortunately not. We were so thankful for Sam as our guide. Within 10 minutes, he had someone from the local pharmacy check John’s blood pressure. We checked his sugar level, and all seemed fine.
We determined the best thing was to get him out of the church, and we would figure out what to do next. All of a sudden, Sam arranged for a wheelchair and helped in getting him out of the church. There are always funny or remarkable things involved in our adventures! The front wheels of the chair would not rotate. Two strong church employees carried John and the wheelchair to an elevator and the church entrance. There were a series of steep stairs to street level. Suddenly, a man single handily picked John and the chair up and carried him to the sidewalk.
As they were moving John through the church courtyard, a priest came to Janice and gave her a blessing from St. Mark, who founded the Christian church in Egypt in the first century.
When we were at street level, a priest approached John and introduced himself as Father John; he asked where John was from and told him North Carolina. The priest said he was from Boston, and another priest with him was from New Hampshire. He told us how important the name John is and then asked John if he could pray for him.
John said he only wished he could remember all the words; John was in tears, and part of the prayer was that “God had acknowledged the prayer through John’s tears.” He then anointed John with oil and his blessing.
Sam said he had never seen anything like this at the church in all his years as a Coptic Christian. It will always be extremely special … and… that is not the end of the story.
After the cruise, on December 4, we returned to Cairo and met our guide Sam to take us back to the church. We walked into the courtyard and up the 29 stairs. One of our reasons for returning was to meet and thank Father John for his blessing and kindness. At the top of the stairs and to our right was Father Jacob; it turns out he was the head priest of the church. John told him we were looking for Father John from Boston; Father Jacob said there was no Father John at the church.
He smiled as John told him the story and what Father John had done. He told us Father John was only a visitor to the church that day. It had to be a miracle that just at the moment John was being carried out of the church, an American Coptic Priest was also leaving the church and took the time to pray with him and offer his blessings. Father Jacob asked if he could give us a blessing, which was another incredible moment, and then offered us some Holy Communion bread. We thanked him and then entered the church.
We walked to a front pew, sat down, and Sam began telling us the church’s history. He smiled at some people who came up behind us. They had big smiles on their faces as we turned to look. The two people had helped John; one was the pharmacist who had checked John’s blood pressure, and the other had gotten the wheelchair and helped John out of the church were both standing next to us.
They told Sam how thrilled they were that John was fine, and both came up and hugged us. It was early December, and we wished them a Merry Christmas, and they wished us a Happy Christmas!
This whole experience was indeed a gift from God. John said he had never felt such an emotional connection. He has shared the story with our children, and he is highly emotional each time he remembers the experience. Many others have had these experiences and it was a reminder of the miracles of life.