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Posted: 2/24/2007 5:05:51 PM EST
www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4578164.html


Phenomenon to some, miracle to others
Virgin Mary image draws throngs
Metal baking sheet at an elementary school yields apparent likeness on Ash Wednesday


By SARAH VIREN
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

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Virgin Mary appears on pan
Previous Virgin Mary images

SIMULACRA

Religious simulacra is the name scientists give to images, like Mary or Jesus, that people say they see in inanimate objects.

• Sandwich: In 2004, Florida resident Diana Duyser sold her grilled cheese on eBay for $28,000. She claimed the sandwich was 10 years old, and she had kept it, preserved in a plastic container, after noticing a shape that looked like the Virgin Mary on the bread.

• Tortilla: In 1978, a woman frying tortillas in New Mexico said she saw an image of Jesus within the pattern of burn marks on her tortilla. She set up a shrine and thousands came to see it.

• Egg: Last year, villagers in Kazakhstan said they found an egg with the word "Allah" inscribed on it in Arabic. A chicken laid the egg just after a hail storm hit the Kazakh village, state media said.
They kneeled. They cried. They asked for healing.

Before them, on an altar of roses and prayer candles, was a metal baking sheet, stained with what hundreds of Houston Catholics now believe is an image of the Virgin Mary.

Guadalupe Rodriguez, a Pugh Elementary School cafeteria worker, discovered the possible miracle on Ash Wednesday, while scrubbing away the last crumbs from the pizza lunch.

By Friday, a steady stream of people were filing through the southeast Houston front yard of Sylvia Calderon, a PTA member who took in the sheet pan after school leaders decided they couldn't accommodate the curious crowds.

At dawn, one woman arrived at Calderon's home in the Denver Harbor neighborhood asking to see the Virgin's image before her 8-year-old son had surgery. That afternoon another woman came for a blessing bearing a picture of her grandson, who has cerebral palsy.

Scientists call this phenomenon religious pareidolia, when the eye sees religious images in objects such as tree trunks and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Believers say it's a miracle.

"It was beautiful," said Angie Bentancur, who left the picture of her grandson beside the sheet pan Friday afternoon.

On Wednesday, Rodriguez, a longtime kitchen worker, was leaning over the sink of the cafeteria at Pugh Elementary washing sheet pans — the kind that normally hold rows of chocolate chip cookies or chicken nuggets.

It was with the last pan, pulled from the cold rinse, that the Virgin appeared, Rodriguez, 59, said.

"I started looking at it, and started looking at it, until I realized it was the Virgin," she said.

The pan appears to be stained, maybe by grease, with an image several inches tall. A splotch of missing color resembles the Virgin Mother's down-turned face, a slight rainbow stain running alongside this could be a shawl.

Her hands still wet, Rodriguez took the pan to the cafeteria, and held it up to her co-workers. What do you see, she asked?

The Virgin Mary, they said, undeniably — on a sheet pan.

Someone got the cafeteria manager, Coralia Pacay, who said the same: undeniably, the Virgin Mary — on a sheet pan.

Pacay and Rodriguez went to Principal Lyda Guerrero. They asked her what she saw.

"It was a silhouette," Guerrero recalled. "A silhouette of the Virgin Mary."

For believers, there is no doubt about Rodriguez's discovery. It is a message from God. The find created a logistical problem for school officials. When they got home Wednesday, many pupils who had seen the sheet pan told their parents, many of whom returned to school to see for themselves. Pacay propped up the pan near the lunch line.

The crowds grew to include neighbors, and soon district officials, including Houston Independent School District Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra, who agreed the tray had to go somewhere else. That's when the PTA agreed to take it to Calderon's house.

"Right now because it is attracting a lot of attention, we just don't want it in the school," said Rebecca Suarez, HISD spokeswoman. "But we want to treat it with respect."

Calderon, who has a 7-year-old daughter at Pugh, has been up since dawn and stayed awake until near midnight every day since then. She only takes the sheet pan in when she sleeps.

A steady stream of people continue to shuffle into her yard. Most are women, some with children. They walk from neighboring houses or park down the street. Some hold bouquets, others candles or pictures.

They brush the Virgin's image with their palms, fingertips, the backs of their hands. They close their eyes and make the sign of the cross.

Some hope to set up a permanent spot for the baking pan in the neighborhood, where anyone can visit, day or night.

Regardless, school officials say they doubt it will go back to the wash bin any time soon.

"I think someone was watching over us," Guerrero said. "I think someone is watching over this community and this school district and this school."
Link Posted: 2/24/2007 5:07:46 PM EST
Uh-huh
Link Posted: 2/24/2007 5:09:22 PM EST
I saw this on the news.


[CarlosMencia] Why do only Mexican people find pictures of the Virgin Mary? [/CarlosMencia]

Link Posted: 2/24/2007 5:10:38 PM EST
Looks more like a cock and balls.

I thought I saw the baby Jesus on a used bit of toilet paper once, but my eBay auction got pulled
Link Posted: 2/24/2007 5:12:19 PM EST

Originally Posted By 72826:
Looks more like a cock and balls.

I thought I saw the baby Jesus on a used bit of toilet paper once, but my eBay auction got pulled


they pulled it cause baby jesus was white, not brown
Link Posted: 2/24/2007 5:13:33 PM EST

Originally Posted By builttoughf250:

Originally Posted By 72826:
Looks more like a cock and balls.

I thought I saw the baby Jesus on a used bit of toilet paper once, but my eBay auction got pulled


they pulled it cause baby jesus was white, not brown



Link Posted: 2/24/2007 5:14:08 PM EST

Originally Posted By 72826:
Looks more like a cock and balls.

I thought I saw the baby Jesus on a used bit of toilet paper once, but my eBay auction got pulled


I hope you have a priest in the family after that comment. Go in peace and sin no more.

Domine Patre Espiritu Santo,
HTG
Link Posted: 2/24/2007 5:14:20 PM EST
Link Posted: 2/24/2007 5:14:36 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/24/2007 5:16:07 PM EST by zwvirtual]
I saw Cthulhu once on a piece of bread that I covered with peanut butter. Since then I've dropped the Christian way and now 10 times a day I face up to
space and pray to stone city of R'lyeh.

ETA: I'm hoping one day to make a pilgrimage...

Link Posted: 2/24/2007 5:56:53 PM EST
I remember the "image" of the VM on a window of a building in Clearwater, FL. back in the late '90s. They made that a pilgrimage for years. Folks camped out night and day, alters and candles, animal sacrifices, etc.

Some yahoo threw some ballons with some caustic crap in them at the image one day. They washed the stuff off the window and low and behold, the image was still there. Not even touched.

The next week, the crowd had doubled.
Link Posted: 2/24/2007 6:39:26 PM EST
how come it's always the Virgin Mary and not a nude Paris Hilton or something?
Link Posted: 2/24/2007 7:21:58 PM EST

Originally Posted By Fuggit:
I remember the "image" of the VM on a window of a building in Clearwater, FL. back in the late '90s. They made that a pilgrimage for years. Folks camped out night and day, alters and candles, animal sacrifices, etc.

Some yahoo threw some ballons with some caustic crap in them at the image one day. They washed the stuff off the window and low and behold, the image was still there. Not even touched.

The next week, the crowd had doubled.


A few ball bearings and a slingshot ended the party.

Link Posted: 2/24/2007 7:30:42 PM EST
Wow! I never knew that had happened. Somebody was pissed I bet.



Originally Posted By Sturmgewehr-58:

Originally Posted By Fuggit:
I remember the "image" of the VM on a window of a building in Clearwater, FL. back in the late '90s. They made that a pilgrimage for years. Folks camped out night and day, alters and candles, animal sacrifices, etc.

Some yahoo threw some ballons with some caustic crap in them at the image one day. They washed the stuff off the window and low and behold, the image was still there. Not even touched.

The next week, the crowd had doubled.


A few ball bearings and a slingshot ended the party.

www.sptimes.com/2004/07/13/images/medium/B_1_1bbroken_180842_0713.jpg
Link Posted: 2/24/2007 8:01:28 PM EST
Mmm, yeah.
Slow news day.
Link Posted: 2/24/2007 8:12:30 PM EST
I've been to Houston several times. The only true prophesey is that I-10 is under construction. And so it shall be. Amen.
Link Posted: 2/25/2007 2:38:15 AM EST
News Flash!

Casper the Friendly Ghost Appears on Baking Sheet!
Link Posted: 2/25/2007 4:03:23 AM EST
I think Mestizo people from south of the border (Mex, Central, and South America) are as a whole far more superstitious than Anglo Roman Catholics. One reason is the general lack of education, but I think the issue is mainly because the Roman Catholic Church actively encouraged them to mix their pre-Catholic pagan religions with Roman Catholicism in the Church's effort to convert the heathen. Why do you think there are black Madonnas in Mexico? Same thing happened in the Mediteranean with the local pagan religions (animal headed Catholic saints, etc.).

AV1611 out...
Link Posted: 2/25/2007 4:29:22 AM EST

Originally Posted By AV1611:
I think Mestizo people from south of the border (Mex, Central, and South America) are as a whole far more superstitious than Anglo Roman Catholics. One reason is the general lack of education, but I think the issue is mainly because the Roman Catholic Church actively encouraged them to mix their pre-Catholic pagan religions with Roman Catholicism in the Church's effort to convert the heathen. Why do you think there are black Madonnas in Mexico? Same thing happened in the Mediterranean with the local pagan religions (animal headed Catholic saints, etc.).

AV1611 out...


The power of belief and superstition combined with ignorance and bad eyesight can lead to people.......Seeing things in the most unlikely places.
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