Religion In The News

Tree Stump Virgin Mary Draws Faithful

From Reuters - October 23, 2003


PASSAIC, N.J. (Reuters) -- Believers are flocking to a rundown street in New Jersey to see a tree stump they say has the form of the Virgin Mary and is a divine sign of hope for the impoverished neighborhood.

"Miracle on Madison Street, that's what I would have called it," said Hector Cruz, who visited the roughly two-foot-high stump in Passaic, New Jersey, a largely Hispanic city about 15 miles west of New York.

The piece of wood, whose shape believers say resembles a veiled Virgin Mary with a bowed head, was noticed by passers-by over the weekend on state-owned land alongside a street that residents say is a hangout for illegal drug users.

Since then, a steady stream of visitors have left candles, flowers and handwritten notes and prayers at the site. "It has her form, definitely," said Jackie Cohrs. "It looks like her."

Marian Ruiz said she and her mother first spotted the stump, etched with ax marks and surrounded with litter.

"Where it's located, it's a bad area around here," she said. "It's a sign."

A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson told local media the church would have to learn more about the case before investigating whether it is a miracle.

Five years ago in nearby Jersey City, word of an image of the Virgin Mary on a freezer door drew people to a supermarket. That image, said to be a silhouette of a woman in a hooded garment, lasted four days.


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