Our Lady Of Guadalupe; Virgin Mary Tree (credit: CBS 2, NYC)The phenomenon of Virgin Mary sightings shows no sign of letting up. Almost since the start of Christianity, the religions followers have found her in any number of weird places. Clearly, they are determined to see her everywhere … and, unsurprisingly, they do! Her latest appearance, as USA Today reports, is in the bark of a tree in West New York, NJ (WebCite cached article):

People are flocking to a tree in New Jersey where some say they see the image of the Virgin Mary.

People have been praying, crying and leaving flowers and candles as they look at the small opening where the bark was stripped away.

Since this is close to the heart of the nation’s largest metropolis, it’s attracted more than a little attention, which had to be accomodated:

A fence and other barricades also have been set up around the tree, which is in a sidewalk along a commercial strip in West New York.

The local Catholic principality is a bit circumspect about this Marian apparition:

Newark Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness tells The Journal newspaper of Jersey City the image is likely “some discoloration that resembles Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

The picture above, courtesy of CBS New York, shows Our Lady of Guadalupe and the West New York Mary side-by-side, providing an excellent comparison. Frankly, I don’t see the resemblance. Yes, I concede the torpedo-shaped bark split that surrounds the presumed image of the Virgin Mary does, indeed, resemble the capsule surrounding the famous Guadalupe painting. But what’s inside the West New York image, doesn’t look anything like what’s inside the Guadalupe image. It’s not similar at all. These Virgin Mary-spotters and -worshippers are causing a ruckus over nothing.

This sort of madness really needs to stop. As I’ve blogged so many times before, this is nothing more than pareidolia at work, the well-known tendency of humans to see familiar patterns in otherwise-unremarkable formations. Get over it already and go back to your lives. OK?

Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: CBS 2 via CBS New York.

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