Posts Tagged “marian apparition”

Our Lady of Fátima and the Children - Igreja de São Domingos - LisbonIt’s the hundredth anniversary of the Virgin Mary’s famous appearance at Fátima, Portugal. Pope Francis celebrated it by going on a pilgrimage there, and as the Jesuit America magazine reports, he canonized two of the children who saw the apparition (WebCite cached article):

History was made at the shrine of Fatima at 10:30 a.m. on May 13 when Pope Francis declared that Francisco Marto and his sister Jacinta are saints. Francisco and Jacinta are the first child saints who are not martyrs in the history of the church.

Francisco, Jacinta and their cousin Lucia are buried here side by side in the basilica. Before Mass, Francis prayed in silence at the tombs of the three shepherd children. When Jacinta’s body was exhumed before being brought here, 15 years after her death, it was found to be totally uncorrupted. Because of this, the local bishop asked Lucia, by then a contemplative nun, to write the memoirs of Jacinta and Francisco, detailing the extraordinary events that have so powerfully impacted the lives of believers ever since [cached].

The Fátima sighting, of course, was not just a single event: it was six of them. Today is the anniversary of the first of these appearances; the last was 5 months later in October of 1917. The now-famous “three secrets” were delivered during the third of the six appearances, in July.

These secrets — mainly, the third — are the subject of more than a little conspiratorial thinking. The third was withheld, and put in writing in the early 1940s by the surviving witness (at that time), Lúcia dos Santos (who had become a nun), sealed in an envelope by her. It was not to be opened until 1960, for some reason; Pope John XXIII read it at that time, but decided not to disclose it. John Paul II finally revealed the “third secret” in 2000, and the Church decided then that it had referred to the assassination attempt against him in 1981. It’s been published, and is even available on the Vatican’s Web site (cached).

The Church’s interpretation of the “third secret” is rather deficient, by any standard. Its vision of a bishop in white being killed by soldiers does not, in any way, reflect the shooting of John Paul II. This, plus the sketchy way the “third secret” was treated, fostered conspiracy theories. Many of these theories assume the Vatican’s published version of the “third secret” is either incomplete or fraudulent, and the actual “third secret” is being withheld for nefarious reasons (which they’ve spun out of thin air, having nothing else to base them on).

There’s just one problem with all of this: Sister Lúcia was alive in 2000, and published commentaries on the “secrets” as late as 2001, and died in 2005. She never contradicted the Vatican’s released version of the “third secret.” (This is why Lúcia wasn’t sainted along with her two friends today; they died long ago due to the Spanish flu pandemic and qualified for canonization already; Lúcia’s sainthood cause has yet to run its course.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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People who got out of their cars form a line to get a look at the cross atop the Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Sandor Bodo/The Providence Journal)Once again we have yet another example of a Virgin Mary sighting. And once again, people line up to gawk at this claimed apparition. This time, as reported by The Providence Journal, it’s atop a church in North Providence, RI (WebCite cached article):

A steady stream of people gathered Friday in the rain at the Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to witness what some believe is an image of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus.

“It’s her. It’s amazing,” said Zumma Canedo, of North Providence.

Canedo, a native of Bolivia, said she had prayed the rosary while standing in the rain outside the church on Mineral Spring Avenue. “She’s saying something,” Canedo said.

A darker profile, interpreted by believers as that of the Virgin Mary, can be seen against the gray copper cross atop the church. Bystanders remarked that the profile did not fade despite the pouring rain.

Imagine that! Stains in a metal cross don’t fade in the rain! How fucking impressive is that!? (Answer: It’s not!) Oh, and not only does the Virgin Mary deign to appear on this cross, she’s talking to people, too! I’d love to hear a recording of what she said … if one exists (and I suspect it doesn’t).

Here’s the cross in question, adorned with this presumed Virgin Mary:

Some people are claiming to see an apparition of the Virgin Mary in a cross outside the the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in North Providence. (Sandor Bodo/The Providence Journal)

Some people are claiming to see an apparition of the Virgin Mary in a cross outside the the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in North Providence. (Sandor Bodo / The Providence Journal)

I’m sorry to report, as with so many of the other Virgin Mary apparitions I’ve blogged about, I just don’t see it. Maybe that’s because I’m a cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathen and am just not capable of perceiving such important and other-worldly things.

Only at the very end of the article does the ProJo concede this might not be what people say it is:

Brian Dowling, associate director at The Steel Yard, a nonprofit community arts program in Providence, said the discoloration is probably a chemical reaction.

“Like patina,” Dowling said referring to the tarnish that forms on copper from oxidation and other chemical reactions. Copper, Dowling said, yields a wide spectrum of colors, from greens to browns to reds.

While this might seem a reasonable explanation that can satisfy rational people, ardent believers will, no doubt, reject it out-of-hand without admitting it even as a remote possibility. Absolutely nothing gets in the way of them arriving at the conclusion they’re determined to arrive it. Not even facts to the contrary … including the fact that all copper items left outdoors long enough will, inevitably, show stains and discolorations.

As I always do, I’ll remind my readers that this is nothing more or less than an example of pareidolia, or recognizing things in something that was otherwise randomly generated. It’s no different from seeing familiar people or objects in cloud formations, which many people — particularly kids — are wont to do, or seeing Richard Nixon in a potato. That’s all this is, folks. Really. Honest. Now go the hell home already and stop getting in the way of funeral processions, fercryinoutloud.

One more thing: This cross, stained to appear to some as though the Virgin Mary impressed her sacred image on it, is on top of a church. One called “the Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” no less! How do we know this image hadn’t been put there purposely by the church or its parishioners? We don’t, of course. Not at all! That said, I don’t believe this was purposeful, a hoax or a pious fraud. Had it been, a resemblance to the Virgin Mary would probably have been much clearer than this. All I’m doing is pointing out there are more than one fully non-supernatural explanations for this Marian apparition.

Photo credit (both): Sandor Bodo/The Providence Journal.

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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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The Virgin Mary ... in a door? Where?I’ve blogged before about Virgin Mary being seen in things, such as in the murky frost between panes of glass, and in the knots on some plywood. This time the Virgin Mary has shown up in someone’s door in Durham, North Carolina. WTVG in Toledo reports on this stunning revelation (WebCite cached article):

We’ve all heard stories of images of the Virgin Mary appearing on everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to highway underpasses. Now, a Durham, NC woman says the Virgin Mary literally appeared in her bedroom door – and hundreds have flocked to her apartment to get a glimpse.

“It appeared on February 28th on Sunday at about 9:30 in the morning,” Carolina Martinez told ABC11.

Martinez said the image appeared on the door of a spare bedroom after a friend spent the night.

“She called for me and told me that she saw the image and I told her no, that she was crazy,” Martinez recalled.

But she now believes.

Note the common trope of initial disbelief, followed by having been convinced by someone else. Ms Martinez said a church elder told her that the image was “just lines,” which upset her:

“I came home very sad because these are things of God and I would not play with something like that.”

Oh, of course, Ms Martinez. Of course you couldn’t possibly “play with” this, because it’s “of God.” How horrible of someone to make such an accusation?

Moreover, Ms Martinez has many supporters:

But hundreds of people apparently don’t think they’re just lines. The Sunday the image appeared, Martinez said something amazing happened.

“We told three neighbors and we stayed. Because with that, more than 300 people came that Sunday until about 1a.m.,” said Martinez.

And they haven’t stopped coming.

Well, obviously, there can no longer be any doubt! 300 people have spoken, and it can only be a genuine visitation by the blessed Virgin Mary.

That said, I honestly can’t see anything even remotely resembling the Virgin Mary — or any other person — in this door. WTVG has a small gallery of photos; I challenge anyone to show where the image is. It’s not there.

This is, of course, yet another example of the psychological phenomenon known as pareidolia. Nothing more.

Hat tip: Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: WTVG, Toledo, OH.

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