From IOL News (SA):
Blinded by faith
By Alex Eliseev
Amal Nassif believed 17-year-old Francesca Zackey when she said the Virgin Mary would appear if Nassif gazed into the sun. Now 37-year-old Nassif, a devout Catholic, may be blind for life. She went to Zackey - the Benoni girl who claims to have repeatedly seen the mother of Jesus - to receive a blessing. Now she says at least four other people also damaged their eyes after being told “the lady” would spin the sun and confirm her presence to her believers.
On Monday, a distraught Nassif went for treatment to renowned eye doctor Percy Amoils. He operated on Nelson Mandela and last year received the Order of Mapungubwe, the country’s highest honour. Amoils was horrified at what he saw.
“This is an absolute disaster and a tragedy,” he fumed. “I am shattered. Apparently this has happened to other people, and must be exposed.”
According to Amoils, the sun’s rays burnt Nassif’s eyes in the same way they burn a piece of paper when focused through a magnifying glass. Her central vision, which allows a person to focus in on certain items, is “severely damaged” in both eyes.
“Let’s hope that God is kind to her and she recovers,” he said.
However, Zackey says Nassif’s problem is not her fault and that she is praying for the woman. She said the sun was still spinning each day, but should only have been looked at during sunset.
“It went out of my hands, people look at the sun at their own risk,” she said. “I am not the sun.”
But Amoils issued a grave warning that people must never look into the sun, no matter the time of day. He was unable to make any promises that Nassif would recover her sight. She is on strong medication to ease the pain. Nassif and her sister Sandra visited Zackey on May 24 at her home, which the area’s security guards now call “the church”.
“Being Lebanese, we believe in our lady and the saints,” Sandra said on Monday. “You have faith… you believe. Francesca said Mother Mary would appear in the sun.”
The day before, Zackey had announced that Mary had told her that the sun would spin at sunset. She claimed the phenomenon was witnessed by hundreds of people and was “absolutely amazing”, with a rainbow of colour pouring out of the sun. Mary apparently also showed herself inside the giant fireball and placed a protective shield over it. After that, word spread and people began looking into the setting sun. Over the weekend, more than 200 people visited Zackey to be blessed or healed.
Thousands have flocked to her since the first sighting in May and are still being encouraged to seek the lady inside the sun. On the same day as her visit, Nassif - who looks after her sick mother - stared into the sun for a full minute around 4.15pm. The Mulbarton resident now lives in a world of blur, in which she can’t recognise shapes. And in almost a month her vision hasn’t improved.
“I can’t see anything. There is a large dark blind spot,” she said. “It looks like (the effect of) a television show blurring out someone’s face.”
Nassif went to Mulbarton Hospital on May 25, and returned two weeks later. Nothing had changed and the doctors could give her no assurance that she would get her sight back.
“It’s scary. You have it (your sight) and then you don’t,” said Nassif. “I hope people will learn from my mistake.”
Meanwhile, at her home, Zackey performed several “spiritual healings” and insisted thousands of people around the world had looked into the sun to confirm Mary’s presence. Her mother Bridgette said she looked into the sun each and every day. The teenager has started a prayer group and is launching a youth group - a demand she says that Mary made on one of her appearances.
I thi… The little bi… For fu….
Nope, I got nothing!