We caught up recently with Myrna Nazzour, Syrian stigmatic and seer, now 52, who, it is claimed, experienced the rare phenomenon in 1982 whereby pure olive oil not only exuded from an icon in her proximity but from the then young woman herself -- causing wonderment to Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and Muslims alike.
She herself is from a household of both Catholic (her father) and Orthodox (her mother) heritage -- blending what John Paul II called "both lungs" of Christianity.
Remarkably, her mysticism has met with the approval of Roman Catholic authorities (the papal nuncio at the time, Bishop Luigi Accogli), the Melkite Catholic prelate (Isidore Battikha), and an Orthodox Patriarch.
That cross-denominational approbation -- perhaps unique in Mariology -- has been made more poignant by her message of Christian (Orthodox-Catholic) unity. In fact, some of her phenomena only occurred at times when Orthodox and Catholic holiday coincided (including major ones such as Easter and Christmas, which on the differing calendars are often days or week apart).
The 1982 phenomena started on November 27 with the exudations of oil, by several days preceding the appearance of the Blessed Mother herself.
"Yes, she still comes," said her husband Nicolas, who spoke for her (Myrna's English is incomplete), when asked about the Blessed Mother. But it is not like it was at the start, says her husband, and her experiences are now mainly confined to alleged interior locutions and a healing/evangelical ministry.
The last time oil exuded from her hand was back in 2007, Nicolas, who translates for his wife, informed us from Damascus, where Myrna had just returned from her seventh trip to the United States, where she spoke at twenty churches there and in Canada, traveling in the company of a priest and with the express permission of her Melkite archbishop).
Above left and top are photos from an article in this Polish newspaper when she visited that country. To the right we see her as a young woman during the height of her experiences. All this information we take under advisement, for discernment.
If some of the phenomena seems gruesome -- including blood flowing from "wounds" on her forehead -- it was indeed painful and must be considered with caution. The discernment is always whether it is from God to a victim soul or an apatetic force. What we have to go on is that priests and prelates have taken a positive stand for decades now. (Mary is known there as "Our Lady of Soufanieh.")
Despite the mystical afflictions, and serious demeanor when they occurred, Nazzour is known as a jovial, unpretentious woman of 52 who lives a mere quarter of a mile from where Saint Paul escaped and closer yet to the historic spot where Anaias baptized then-Saul.
We're told she has had 37 ecstasies in all, five full-fledged apparitions and five experiences of full stigmata.
Though no longer stigmatic, a source close to her says she sometimes feels the pains of the wounds.
An Orthodox himself (he married Myrna, originally Mary Kourbet Al-Akhras, but known simply as Myrna), Nicolas married her six months before the experiences began and told us that they and their two children are doing well in Damascus but that ISIS radicals have caused huge disruptions in surrounding vicinities. A jewelry shop he owned has closed.
The good news, of course, is that they are alive and well. We still have not been able to ascertain the whereabouts and perhaps fate of another seer in the troubled region, Dinah Basher of Mosul, in Iraq -- where virtually all major Christian churches and other sites have been decimated by the evil forces of ISIS.
"It's really bad around us but not in Damascus," explained Nicholas, who closed a jewelry shop he owned two years ago.
They have two children, a daughter who has married and a son who was educated in Canada as a computer expert and now works in Lebanon. Nicholas said he would send us some of his wife's most recent messages, which we will report when they are translated.
Mary came, said Myrna (also "Mirna"), in a globe of light that resembled the reflections of a diamond and left in three flashes.
This of course was long before the horrible warfare, persecution, and overall destruction wrought by radical Muslims such as ISIS.
Myrna's experiences were not so far from the spot where also the light from Heaven surrounded Saul (Acts 9:3). As the halves of the globe fell away, she had testified, a bow of light appeared above it and inside was a beautiful lady.
"My children, be mindful of God," Mary had told Myrna, who enjoys her bishop's approval. "You know a lot, but you know nothing. Your knowledge is incomplete. The day will come when you will know all things as God knows me. Deal kindly with those who do you wrong; do not mistreat anybody. I have given you oil, more than you have asked. I will give you something stronger than oil. Repent and believe. Be mindful of me in your joy."
The key message here, as stated -- but as cannot be over-emphasized -- was unity between all religions -- something that as we have seen in the years since was in desperate need and could have prevented the current upheaval and atrocities, including there in Syria. Mary's wish of uniting the Easter feast seemed clear, as the Catholic-Orthodox woman's stigmata only appeared when the Easter was one for all Churches in the years 1984, 1987, 1990, 2001, 2004.