In the modest district of Soufanieh in Damascus Syria, near
the heart of the place where St. Paul was struck down by
light from heaven, and there converted and baptized, today in our
own times, new light is shining.
In this book, “Light from the East,” author, Father
Fox tells of marvels: exudations of oil, apparitions,
visions, stigmata, bodily and spiritual cures, with doors of a family
open to all.
A light from heaven is shining again - calling all peoples
the world to unite as one in Jesus Christ. The author
relates the call
of heaven for unity, love, holiness in our families as a prerequisite
Christian Unity. Light from the East has been shining in recent years
ever more brightly at Damascus, its Soufanieh Community at the
There is a great need for both understanding and apprecia-
tion between the East and the West, between Orthodox and
A testimonial to this book from the East
“Your testimony about Soufanieh bears great significance.
appears at a crucial time in history. Mary, the Virgin,
is the Mother
from the East, whom God chose, excluding all other women, in order
to open locked doors in both the East and the West so as to form
one human family…
“One of the most amiable aspects of this [book] is your
course about the Mother Icon of Our Lady of Soufanieh,
that is, the
Icon of Our Lady of Kazan upon which the Soufanieh Icon is based.
What you have written has great dimensions, at the Church level, the
ecumenical level and the level of faith in general.”
“I do beseech Our Lord Jesus, with the mediation of Our
Virgin Mother, to make this testimony of your book a new
awaken those who got drowned in the delusion of this world. This
book reflects the sensitivity needed now.”
(Above excerpts from this Book’s Introduction by Fr.
Elias Zahlaoui -
Our Lady of Damascus Church, Syria. He has been associated with
the happenings of Soufanieh from the beginning.)
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Table of Contents
Prayer to Our Lady of Soufanieh
Preface: Light from the East—in the Arab World
Chapter 1. Overview of the “Pearl of the East”
Chapter 2. Historic Syria, Christians, Muslims and Mary
Chapter 3. Signs of the Finger of God Here
Chapter 4. Transfer of the Icon and
Chapter 5. Interview with Fr. Elias Zahlaoui, an Apostle
Chapter 6. Interviews with Myrna and the Soufanieh Family
Chapter 7. The Family Is Called to be a Domestic
Chapter 8. Interviews with Hierarchy in Damascus
Chapter 9. Our Lady of Kazan, Fatima and Soufanieh
Chapter 10. Messages Given to Myrna Nazzour from Jesus
the Virgin Mary
Chapter 11. Soufanieh Is for Now and the Future
I dedicate this book, written for Christian unity—for
love and unity
among all Christians and of each family in Jesus
Christ—to the Holy
Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. I pray that in some way this book can
a voice to re-echo the call of heaven for such love and unity upon
May all Christians hear this heavenly call for love and
unity. “Yet not
for these only do I pray, but for those also who through
their word are to
believe in me, that all may be one, even as You, Father, in me and I in
that they also may be one in us, so that the world may believe that You
sent me” ( John 17:20-22).
May the millions of dear people who profess the religion
of Islam, and
who also have a love for the Virgin Mother Mary, come
soon into union
with their Christian brothers and sisters.
Finally, I dedicate this book to my sister, Catherine Fox
Hrabe, 89, the
news of whose death, August 12, 2002, was received just
as this book was
completed and I was writing its dedication. She was my Godmother, the
oldest in a family of eight children. She was always an example of love
kindness to all and an inspiration to me, as to our brothers and
children and grandchildren. She always showed the greatest interest in
work as a priest and my efforts at Catholic journalism. Now she joins
mother and father, Susie Emma Lorentz, Aloysius J. Fox, and her husband,
Chapter. # Name v
Prayer to Our Lady of Soufanieh
Virgin Mary, Mother of God and men,
Blessed are You to have accepted for the first time in
the History of
Salvation, a Mission in the heart of the Arab World.
Blessed are You to have chosen Damascus as a home, to
children who come from the five continents, to remind
the Gospel of your Son Jesus and to listen to Him.
Blessed is your Son Jesus to have chosen at the end of a
century full of
hate, violence and murder (and at the end of a millennium
many divisions) to unveil to the whole world, as previously to St.
Paul, the fascinating face of our God who is Love, Dignity and
Blessed are You to have chosen Myrna, a simple and young
without much culture, to manifest Your Love that
Blessed are you to have blessed the love of Myrna and
husband, and their children, Miriam and John Emmanuel, in
order to tell us again, at the end of a century (and end of a
millennium) which experienced a systematic destruction of the
Family and of Life, that Love is God Himself sealing the love
between man and wife, and that the child is simply a Gift from
Blessed are you to remind us in this modest district of
Damascus through this rosary of marvels such as
oil, apparitions, ecstasies, messages, visions, stigmata, bodily and
spiritual cures, with doors open to all, through continuous prayer
in humility and gratuitousness; Blessed are you for your joint
Presence, so powerful yet so discreet and loving, which is always
the same, yesterday, today and forever.
Fox. Light from the East—Miracles of Our Lady of
Blessed are you for your presence in the Arab world,
welcoming yet so
unrecognized, and where miraculously survives this little
cious and living remnant of Your first Church.
Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and men, make us
announce intelligently and courageously, Your Son’s name,
deserve the Mission with which You entrusted us.
[Prayer by Fr. Elias Zahlaoui]
About the Author
Fr. Robert J. Fox has long been recognized as a Catholic
Catholic doctrine, church history, catechisms and
founding the Fatima Family Apostolate and becoming editor of the Immaculate Heart Messenger magazine which is printed both in
States and in the Philippines, the author had been a columnist for the National Catholic Register, regular writer for Our Sunday
Twin Circle, and many other Catholic publications. He now presents
a new voice and some deeper insights into the miracles of Soufanieh and
what Jesus and Mary are saying today in the land of early Christianity.
Fox traveled to Damascus to present firsthand the fruit of his research.
Chapter. # Name vii
Light from the East—in the Arab World
T SEEMED HARDLY coincidental that months before I
departed for Damascus, Syria, I chose September 11, 2001, to
be in flight there. I would spend time at an ideal
Community of Soufanieh that has developed in the midst of
For the first time in 2000 years, in the Arab world, in the very area
Paul the Apostle was converted and baptized, from where he went to
the world to be one in Jesus Christ, our Blessed Mother, the “Virgin,”
come to manifest her presence with a special mission. Miracles have been
happening there since 1982. It is heaven’s call for love and unity.
I was urged to write a book on Soufanieh. I would not do
first-hand experience of the area. I needed to get to
know the people direct-
ly involved. It is important for you to read the Introduction to this
Fr. Elias Zahlaoui, who teaches at the University in Damascus and has
associated with the Soufanieh events from the beginning. He is presently
pastor of Our Lady of Damascus Church there, and is considered the
Catholic priest in Syria at present most reliable on Soufanieh. I
interview Church authorities, both the Orthodox and Catholic. The
Nazzour family at the center of the Soufanieh supernatural phenomenon
has a Melkite-rite Catholic mother, Myrna, and Orthodox father, Nicolas.
I was in Damascus, Syria, for a week, each day as a guest
at the Virgin’s
House of Soufanieh. I was always made welcome by Nicolas
Nazzour and the broader Soufanieh family as they gathered each evening
for prayer and for the holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
I had many interviews with people and authorities
about Soufanieh. These included His Holiness, Moran Mor
I, the Syrian Orthodox Prince Patriarch of Antioch; also, Gregoire III,
Patriarch of Melkite Catholics; Archbishop Dionysius Behnam Jajjawi,
Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese; Fr. Elias Zahlaoui, associated with
Soufanieh from the beginning and who was an invaluable resource for me
in preparing this book.
I met also with Fr. Boulos Fadel, Myrna’s present
spiritual director suc-
ceeding Fr. Malouli, and whom Fr. Zahlaoui recognized
years ago would be
valuable for the Soufanieh mission. I found great cooperation from all,
ing the friends of the local Soufanieh community. The love that flowed
between all these people, the spirit of unity, was evident.
The Virgin Mother told Myrna in 1982 to open the doors of
home to all. I observed the Virgin’s House of Soufanieh,
which is also the
Nazzour home, opened daily to people of all faiths. They came from
different countries and prayed before the Icon of Soufanieh. These
ed Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. Always
was respect from all, always all were welcome. I admired
the sacrifice of the
Nazzour family in opening their home to all and always gratuitously.
has anything been disturbed or stolen.
Whenever I offered the Sacrifice of the Mass at Soufanieh
before the Icon, I found the people most devout. They
prayed long before
the Mass began. I was able to use the chalice daily which the Pope used
when he was in Damascus in May 2001, when his Holiness went on pil-
grimage, following the footsteps of St. Paul.
On my final evening of September 18, 2001, we were
Mass and farewell in the upper terrace where Our Lady
appeared. At the
end of the Mass I expressed my gratitude for the charity and kindness
I was saying that I recognized a similarity between the message of
in the West and Soufanieh in the East. Suddenly Fr. Elias Zahlaoui drew
my attention that olive oil was exuding from the hands of Myrna who
When Fr. Zahlaoui announced the oil the youth present
a beautiful hymn to the Virgin of Soufanieh. They lined
up so I could
anoint them with oil from Myrna’s hands. I had said Mass near midnight
that final night in Soufanieh before returning to America. It is my
that I may offer holy Mass each day, even my last day on earth. Planes
been grounded after the terrorist attacks. What difficulties awaited me
back to the United States I did not know. I took the abundant oil from
Myrna’s hands and anointed each one present. It was obvious the youth
were experiencing a presence of God and of the Virgin. As always
the oil began to cease when all were anointed.
While I had come to research for a book on Soufanieh I
prayed that if
God wanted oil to occur while I was there—if He felt that
a miracle would
make the book on Soufanieh I was to write more credible, it’s in His
I did not deem myself worthy to witness such a miracle. If God wanted to
bring forth oil, not for Myrna’s glory nor mine, but only for the
ness of the message of Soufanieh, which is for love and unity of the
and the Church—only God can determine that and cause the miracle. I had
no right to ask.
Before going to Soufanieh I did not know that the message
fanieh also concerned family life. I thought the call was
only for Christian
Unity of the Universal Church, starting with the reunion of Orthodox and
Catholics. Then I discovered Soufanieh concerns love and unity in the
ily as well. Now I understood, as director of the Fatima Family
dedicated to the sanctification of families, why, by unforeseen circum-
stances, I was called to Soufanieh-Damascus. It became clear why I chose
to fly there to a Community of Love and Unity, September 11, at the same
time when hatred of extremists was being unleashed in my native land.
When there are millions of families filled with love and
living in unity
in Christ there will come Christian Unity. The first big
effort is to unify the
Feast of Easter so Orthodox and Catholics celebrate the Feast at the
time. Then the rest will follow.
I hope the Icon of Soufanieh can be placed in our homes
each family of heaven’s call for love and unity in our
families and heaven’s
call for all Christians to pray for Christian unity.
Fr. Robert J. Fox
Chapter. # Name ix
Dear Fr. Robert J. Fox:
You asked me, in faith and sensitivity, to write an
your book. I, in turn, respond in faith and with
sensitivity as well. Faith,
because the priesthood of Jesus incorporates us together; and, in sensi-
tivity, because you, an eminent priest, known all over America, asked
who is not well known in America, to write this introduction.
First, I must express gratitude to the Lord for He has
led you in your
travels to Damascus at an exceptional time: on the very
day and imme-
diately subsequent to the dreadful assault on the World Trade Center in
New York, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., etc.
I must also thank the Lord for the invincible desire with
has inflamed your heart to write a book about the
activities of His most
consecrated Mother in the Soufanieh neighborhood of Damascus, and
hence for the whole world.
A great many people came to Damascus before you, were
and grateful as they discovered the inconceivable
occurrences at Soufan-
ieh. They have come from France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Holland,
Spain, Tahiti, the United States, Mexico, Denmark and, of course, from
all the Arab countries. However, only a few of them wrote articles or
treatises on Soufanieh.
There are two exceptions: first the French journalist
Ravaz, who wrote a primer entitled “The Revelations of
Jesus and the
Virgin in Damascus” and, second, Fr. Adel Theodore Khouri, a German
national who wrote a primer entitled “A Sign from Heaven,” 1988.
You, Father, however desired to write an ample book
Americans on the one hand and the English speaking world
other. And since you have an acknowledged status in ecclesiastical and
clergy circles in the United States, thanks to your books which have
exceeded forty and through the Eternal Word Television Network
(EWTN), which was founded by Mother Angelica, this testimony of
yours about Soufanieh will certainly be adequate to reach an innumer-
able amount of people.
Is there anyone in this world who has not witnessed the
conflict in our modern world between those turning away
from God and
those with a zealous passion for Him?
Hence, your testimony about Soufanieh bears great
Therefore, I would give thanks to the Lord, first, and
then to you,
dear Father, for the caution with which I have noticed in
you to detect
the Soufanieh occurrences with accuracy and going directly to reliable
sources. You have never put aside any of the reported references,
they be from sources that are ecclesiastical, scientific, educational or
You have done all this as if you were that exceptional
priest the late
Fr. Joseph Malouli, who was chosen by the Lord to take
care of Sou-
fanieh for so long during those momentous years, and who recorded all
so lovingly and faithfully.
For these reasons, I have gratitude to the Lord and to
you; hence I
rejoice at your work.
Moreover, I experience an additional gratitude with joy
for the Lord
and for you, dear Father. You are a priest who has
dedicated a great por-
tion of your priestly life to spreading the message of Our Mother, her
revelations, to the entire world. Then suddenly you came to Damascus
and as it were spontaneously, as by divine guidance, saw the link
Fatima and Damascus; between the Virgin’s revelations in Fatima and
Her revelations together with Jesus in Damascus. How successful and
fortunate you were!
At the level of the conjoined divine mission between
Damascus you vanquished the challenge to glorify the
family and its
members so that families would become the builders of the sanctity of
the bigger, universal family which is the Church. Such sanctified fami-
lies would also be the builders of Church unity and its sharp testimony
amidst a world whose material density and arrogance multiplies and
whose spirituality and substance declines.
Furthermore, you were fortunate in your emphasis of the
tance of both Fatima and Damascus. There is no place for
chance or luck and mere speculation as to what the Lord’s choice has
been. It is He who knows and plans and executes. Man may respond or
The Lord Himself chose the town of Fatima in the second
of the twentieth century; likewise, He chose the city of
Damascus in the
second decade from the end of that century.
Fatima refers to a great Muslim name. What happened at
embodies an urgent appeal from the Blessed Virgin to the
come back to God humbly, lovingly and hopefully.
Damascus, on the other hand, is the name that relates
early Christianity through the apostle St. Paul, the
it relates to the magnanimous Islam through hundreds of years. Without
warning, what has happened at Damascus, in the modest neighborhood
of Soufanieh, summons people to return to God in faith
love. It also summons each and every family on this earth to live in
tity daily so as to turn humanity into one united human family, affec-
tionate and faithful. This will unite all the sanctified families so as
synthesize together one Church to testify truthfully the efficacy of
the Redeemer (whom many do not yet share), the Unshared.
Mary, the Virgin, is the Mother from the East, whom God
excluding all other women, in order to open locked doors
in both the
East and the West. Mary is God’s choice to demolish the extending high
walls between the East and the West. Finally, Mary has been chosen to
gather all the children of God everywhere at any time so as to form one
human family which raises its polyphonic voice in united prayer to the
One Divine Father.
Isn’t that precisely what humanity needs so desperately
than anything else?
Dear Fr. Robert,
You have said all this in your book simply, joyfully and
have said it in an attentive and sensitive way which is
directed to accu-
mulating reiteration around the solid nucleus of the truth. One of the
most amiable aspects of this reiteration is your discourse about the
Mother Icon of Our Lady of Soufanieh, that is, the Icon of Our Lady
of Kazan upon which the Soufanieh Icon is based. What you have writ-
ten about the history of the Kazan Icon and its Russian record has great
dimensions, at the Church level, the ecumenical level and the level of
faith in general. That is especially when you mention the way it was
and the way it was found, and finally its sojourn under the protection
and patronage of Our Lady of Fatima at Fatima. You have indicated all
these dimensions without hesitation. Some of your indications acquire
vigor whereas others are discussed delicately so as to comply with the
nature of the West-East relationships.
Dear Fr. Robert,
Being an Arab Catholic priest, and a son of the city of
can’t help but expose your honesty in testifying in favor
of the children
of the Arab Church today and to the people of Damascus, as you have
demonstrated in your book. You have shown this in writing of the peo-
ple of Damascus and Syria and the Arab Orient composed of Christians
and Muslims. You did not spare a minute to manifest what you have dis-
covered in them; human spontaneous tendency, aggression-free geniali-
ty, genuine faith and ethical open-mindedness.
There are plenty of issues which deserve to be
pondered and I would not misappropriate the pleasure for
in discovering them in this book. I would, however, point out one very
important topic in your testimony.
It is this: your constant, quiet emphasis on the
prolongation of the
absolutely free prayers which have been offered at the
humble house of
the Blessed Virgin in the Soufanieh community. It does give me deep
happiness to notice that you have observed in your book, more than
once, that both Christian and Muslim believers pray next to each other
in both respect and faith. Both do this asking the blessing from their
Virgin Mother, the blessing of peace, love and unity. They ask this
blessing for themselves and for all of humanity, and even for their ene-
mies. They do this while they stride every day over a great deal of
and antipathy and grievances which have accumulated in this Arab
Amiable Father Robert,
Once again, I thank you for this precious, inestimable
that comes from you, the American priest, at a crucial
time. I do beseech
Our Lord Jesus, with the mediation of Our Virgin Mother, to make this
testimony of your book a new voice to awaken those who got drowned
in the delusion of this world; this delusion which is founded upon the
disdainfulness of the science, the lust for power and worship of money.
May this testimony rouse a great many people to listen to
words of the Virgin’s discourse at Soufanieh to all her
out the world:
Remember God because God is with us.”
May this testimony as well rouse a great many people to the latest
words of the Lord Jesus at Soufanieh to all His brothers
“Don’t forget that I am the reason of your existence on
earth. And I
am the reason of your happiness in Heaven.”
Finally, I would not find a better conclusion to this
than to remind you of what the Lord Jesus said to Myrna
“My peace in your heart will be a blessing for you and
for all those
who have cooperated with you.”
Dear Father, God bless you and bless your effort.
Fr. Elias Zahlaoui Damascus, 6/10/2002
Our Lady of Damascus Church
Al.Quousour, Damascus, Syria
Myrna Nazzour on mountain overlooking Damascus, Easter
Scenes of Old Damascus
(Above) Eastern Gate (Bab
Charki); (right) street scene.