The director and editors of Mary Page under the auspices of the International Marian Research
Institute do not necessarily endorse or agree with the events and ideas expressed in this feature.
Our sole purpose is to report on items about Mary gleaned from a myriad of papers representing
the secular press.
The "miracle" at Milton Hospital is multiplying.
[Source: The Boston Herald, June 25, 2003]
Faithful flocking to venerate a window bearing what many
believe is an image of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus now are turning their
gaze to what looks like two crosses etched in the soot on the side of a
"I believe that it definitely is a sign," said Patricia Burke of
Quincy, standing yesterday on a once-grassy traffic island worn bare by the
crowds that gather daily to view the image.
"I think God's telling us something. I don't know what that message
is," she said.
The crosses, each about 6 feet high, stand one atop the other on the side of
the square stack.
Alice Sweeney of Quincy thinks the images of Mary and the crosses are God's way
of urging mankind to embrace "peace."
Lowell resident Maria Flaris, who made the trek to Milton with her son, said
she thinks God sent the images "to bring peace in the Middle East. I think
so and I hope so."
While the Madonna likeness has been widely recognized - even by skeptics who
consider the origin to be random chemical activity - the crosses are more
"It's awesome, because I believe in the Blessed Mother and she's been
appearing all over the place lately," said Joan Smith of Milton.
But her daughter, Karen Smith, was more skeptical as the two stood in a blazing
mid-day sun yesterday to examine the smokestack.
"The cross - I don't see it at all," she said.
The image of Mary is covered by a blue tarp most of the day for crowd control
but the view of the smokestack remains unobstructed.
A hospital spokeswoman had no comment on the latest image and said there are no
plans to change the schedule for viewing the Madonna and baby Jesus. Officials
remove the tarp from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. nightly.
Scrap of cloth draws flock of faithful to La Crosse
[Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 23, 2003]
It had to be a journey of faith that brought hundreds here to
walk up a hill in 80-degree heat to see a religious relic -- a tiny,
half-inch-square piece of cloth.
Yet, for the faithful, the cloth was a tangible representation of the Virgin
Christians from throughout the state as well as from Minnesota and Iowa stopped
to view the cloth, called the "Tilma of Tepeyac," which was part of a
cloak worn by a man who said he saw the Virgin Mary more than four centuries
ago in Mexico.
"I think it's really neat," said Mary Jane Griffin, who drove four
hours round trip from Eau Claire. "I've seen relics before and I get so
much out of it. Faith-wise you don't always get to see things, so this is
something we can see."
The Tilma of Tepeyac, which has been in the archives of the Archdiocese of Los
Angeles since 1941, is on a 20-city tour. La Crosse was the third stop after
Denver and New Haven, Conn., for the tilma, which next travels to Springfield,
Ill., and Sacramento, Calif.
A tilma is a cloak that was worn by Aztec Indians centuries ago. According to
the story behind the Tilma of Tepeyac, a man named Juan Diego said the Virgin
Mother appeared to him three times in 1531 and asked him to speak to the bishop
of Mexico City and tell him that Mary wanted a church to be built at the base
of Tepeyac Hill.
Juan Diego, who was canonized last year, picked roses at the Virgin Mother's
request and wrapped them in his tilma. When Juan Diego opened his cloak to give
the roses to the bishop he discovered a colorful image of Mary imprinted on the
tilma. The faithful believe it was a miracle.
In 1941 the archbishop of Los Angeles led a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our
Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City to see the image of Mary on the tilma.
In gratitude, the archbishop of Mexico City sent a small piece of the cloak to
the archbishop in Los Angeles, and now, it is encased in a small blue locket
that on Sunday was draped around a 17th century statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe
inside a plastic case. Two vases of white roses were placed next to the relic.
Thousands stood in line in Denver to see it, said Andrew Walther, coordinator
of the tour.
"People have really been eager to see the relic and learn about the
relic," Walther said Sunday.
La Crosse Bishop Raymond L. Burke asked organizers of the tour whether the
relic could stop in this community on the banks of the Mississippi River. They
So Saturday morning, the Tilma of Tepeyac was brought to a chapel at the Shrine
of Our Lady of Guadalupe of the Diocese of La Crosse, and Sunday afternoon
another procession, led by Burke and the Knights of Columbus, carried the relic
down the hill.
More than 300 people saw the relic on Saturday, and a similar number had
stopped by on Sunday as of 2 p.m., said Andrew Brannon, interim executive
director of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which opened last December.
"This is such a venerated piece," Brannon said. "To have a relic
of this magnitude for such a young shrine, it means a lot."
Jane Noll traveled from Alma, about 60 miles away, with her husband and son,
both members of the Knights of Columbus, to see the relic. Noll knew the story
behind the tilma and wanted to see the piece of cloth because it's spiritually
important to her.
"I'm a very big friend of the Virgin Mother. I pray to her often,"
Mike and Mary Jane Strube brought their three daughters from Wisconsin Rapids
to see it.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance because I don't think we'll ever get
down to Mexico" to see the entire tilma and picture of the Virgin Mother,
said Mike Strube.
Group tours state with Virgin Mary image [Source: Star
Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), June 20, 2003]
A group protesting abortion made its way across the Twin Cities
on Thursday with a life-size depiction of the Virgin Mary.
Members of Suspend Abortion Compact in Minneapolis and some Catholic Church
members visited clinics and churches that they say they feel have deviated from
"We are basically protesting the destruction of the family, which is the
foundation on which the church rests," said the group's director Colleen
Clobes, of Minneapolis.
The visits are part of a three-week tour across the state.
Much of the group's presence went unnoticed Thursday morning as the protesters
took the digital reproduction of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe (the Virgin
Mary) _ displayed on a 4-foot by 6-foot wood frame _ to 13 churches and clinics
in the Twin Cities. At each site, they prayed for about 15 minutes and then
moved to their next stop.
According to religious historians, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to San Juan
Diego in 1531 as the pregnant mother of God and left a "miraculous
image" of herself on his cactus fiber cloak, which still exists. It is
kept in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
Many believe that those who touch the image will be healed or have their
Deborah Holt of Alexandria, Minn., who helped organize the tour, said she
believes that the Our Lady of Guadalupe image brings healing to Minnesotans.
"It's like we're getting a visit from Heaven," she said. "She
comes to help, to bring awareness of the sanctity of life."
Tina Smith, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota and South Dakota,
said she was pleased that the protesters were respectful when they visited her
organization's St. Paul location.
"We honor their right to be there," she said. "We are really
happy that these protesters were quite peaceful."
Group members said they believe that their prayers for the clinics and churches
will stop abortions and bring the churches back to the Catholic doctrine.
After the stops Thursday in the Twin Cities, the tour headed to Duluth. It
returns Monday to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in South St. Paul, and it ends
Tuesday in St. Cloud.
The group members started their day Thursday on sympathetic turf.
Margaret Eckert of St. Paul, who joined in prayer to welcome the image to the
Twin Cities in the morning at St. Agnes Catholic Church in St. Paul, said she
was excited to be so close to it. "At one point," she said, "I
felt that I was touched to tears."
Julie Madden, peace and justice coordinator at St. Joan of Arc Church, said the
church community was not offended by the protesters' presence Thursday morning.
"We could choose to interpret [what they're doing] as a disrespect for the
work that we do, but I don't believe it is. I really don't," she said
while observing a group prayer in the church parking lot in south Minneapolis.
"As a community, I believe that we are very vital in the Catholic Church,
and the larger community. We have done a lot of significant work on behalf of
capital punishment, children, immigrants and the homeless."
Madden said the church embraces a "consistent life ethic," which
means it acknowledges all life as scared.
At St. Agnes, Francisca Lemewih said she just had to touch the image.
She knelt before it, head bowed and caressed the image of the cloak gently with
her right hand.
"I'm so happy," said Lemewih, of St. Paul. "I confide in her. I
feel so fine. When I got close to her, I feel warm inside."
Catherine Turner, of Lino Lakes, spread her palm across her throat and came
close to tears as she stared silently at the image.
"Love, life and protection, that's what she represents to me," she
said. "She's my spiritual mother. She always gives me solace in my life.
And everything that I've always wanted, she's given to me, and
Bayou Liberty [Source: Times Picayune (New Orleans, LA),
June 15, 2003]
Last week's Bayou Liberty Pirogue Races raffle winners are:
Pirogue, Stacy Taylor; 19-inch color television, Fay Stanley;and $75 cash, Mary
If you weren't a winner, better luck next year.
A touch of divine providence and a knock at the door has resulted in the
restoration of a statue of the Virgin Mary and the building of a shrine in the
backyard of St. Genevieve parishioners Janet, Eddie and Melissa Miller.
The Millers recently acquired the statue, which was in disrepair. They
recruited friends Matthew Gomez, Philip Bellini, John Friery and their families
to help bring the 650-pound statue to their home. It was placed in their
backyard and then the family began to wonder how they would find someone to
replace the missing finger and restore the feet to perfection.
"You don't look in the phone book for statue repairs," Eddie Miller
About a week later, a man knocked on the Millers' door looking for yard work.
Miller didn't have any grass to cut, but took the man into the back yard which
needed to be cleaned in preparation for the building of a shrine for the
statue. The man, whose name the Millers cannot recall, mentioned that he had
stopped at the votive chapel at St. Genevieve to offer prayers before
proceeding in his quest for work.
When the man saw the statue, he remarked on its beauty, and Miller explained
that he was hoping to find someone to repair and paint the statue. At this, the
man stated he was a sculptor.
A deal was struck, and the 5-foot tall concrete statue of the Virgin Mary was
miraculously repaired and painted.
The Millers set about building a deck and a garden to befit the beautiful
statue. Religious articles which were in disrepair were sought from friends to
be buried beneath the site where the statue rests. Ceramic vases were placed on
either side and became fountains, symbolic of Jesus' first miracle at Cana when
at his mother's request water was turned into wine.
Flowers planted nearby are called blue queen. On each side of an arch has been
planted confederate jasmine. Once the finishing touches of a deck and garden
benches were in place, a crowning was held at the Millers' home. Sixty-three
people attended the spiritual and joyful celebration.
The Rev. Elbert Vasquez of St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church was present
to bless the statue. A floral crown was made by Penny Warshauer and placed on
the statue by Melissa Miller.
Children in attendance each placed a flower in a vase at the feet of the
statue. After singing "Hail Holy Queen," the group retreated from the
rain inside to continue the event by praying the Rosary. Stephanie Guillot
offered a spiritual and beautiful rendition of "Ave Maria"
accompanied by a tape of her husband, Glenn, playing the guitar.
A delicious buffet luncheon was served and topped off by a cake brought by
The Millers hope that the young man who brought their statue to life will
contact them again.
Magnificent Mercs and millions [Source: Courier Mail (Queensland,
Australia), June 14, 2003]
CULT leader Debra Geileskey who claims she has visions of the
Virgin Mary has amassed a property empire worth more than $3.5 million.
The former school teacher whose Magnificat Meal Movement headquarters are based
at Helidon, 80km west of Brisbane, also owns four Mercedes-Benz with matching
Land title searches show she owns or part owns at least 20 properties,
including homes, farms, offices, shops and units.
In the past 18 months, Ms Geileskey and companies in which she is the sole
director bought $2.3 million worth of property in the Gatton, Laidley and
Among last year's purchases was a $950,000 orchard, a $590,000 cattle property,
$300,000 tropical fruit farm and a $285,000 house site.
Ms Geileskey is a director of 10 companies, and often uses the name Debra
She owns or part owns about a dozen properties in Helidon's Railway St, the
town's main street.
Ms Geileskey attracted world-wide attention with claims she received messages
from Jesus and the Virgin Mary.
She also once claimed she ate only 33 times a year and survived on holy wafers
With her now estranged husband Gordon, Ms Geileskey had more than $350,000 in
debts when the couple moved to Queensland from Victoria.
Her "visions" gave her a much more comfortable existence.
The couple set up a private company, Our Lady's Mount, which obtained stakes in
hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property deeded to them by cult
Ms Geileskey is regularly seen traveling in a convoy of her Mercedes-Benz,
which include number plates "CORMA 1, 2 and 3", standing for the
title she gives to the Virgin Mary, "Co-Redemptrix, Mediator and
One of the homes Ms Geileskey bought last year is in the peaceful farming
district near Grantham in the Lockyer Valley.
Across the road, retired TAFE teacher Hank Deucker and his wife Judy, a nurse,
built their dream home 10 years ago and run a few head of cattle.
They say they tried to "live and let live" as suggested by the local
council, but after enduring more
than 100 loud parties and rock band practice sessions within a year, they have
"The first party lasted three days. Neighbours two kilometres away phoned
up to find out what the racket was," Mr Deucker said.
On the afternoon of the third day of the first party, Mrs Geileskey arrived at
the Deuckers' front door with three bodyguards and invited them to join the
"She said the party was for a few friends. There were 70 cars there. We
said 'no thanks'," Mrs Deucker said.
"At night the only way to escape is to close the house and turn up the
television until they stop at about one minute to 10."
The Deuckers phoned police and were told they could not do any-thing about
noise until 10pm.
Ms Geileskey could not be contacted yesterday.
Bishop strikes off rogue priest [Source: The Australian,
June 12, 2003]
THE Catholic Church has excommunicated a rogue priest who tried
to appoint himself bishop over a controversial religious sect in country NSW.
In a letter to his followers in the Order of Charbel this week, Father Malcolm
Broussard rejoiced that he had been appointed a bishop of the Catholic Church.
"God has chosen me to be a Successor to the Apostles in the pastoral
ministry -- to shepherd the Flock of Christ under my care," he said, while
pledging his obedience to the Pope.
But the Bishop of Wollongong, Peter Ingham, has announced Father Broussard's
ex-communication from the Catholic Church.
Wollongong Diocese spokesman Father Peter Comensoli said Father Broussard was a
disgraced priest from Houston, Texas, who became "caught up" with the
Order of Charbel and had moved to Australia to join the order's 200-strong
community in Nowra, NSW. And since his arrival, he had been refused a licence
The Order of Charbel is a group founded by William Kamm, known to his followers
as Little Pebble, who professes to see visions of the Virgin Mary, and teaches
that he has been chosen by God, Jesus and the Virgin Mary to be the final Pope
on Earth. Last year, the Catholic Church issued a decree rejecting Mr Kamm's
"absurd pretensions" and outlawing the sect.
But, Father Comensoli said, Father Broussard had stayed with the Order and
traveled recently to Germany, where he was ordained a bishop by "another
rogue bishop," himself ex-communicated.
Bishop Ingham, who issued the decree on Tuesday, said the excommunication could
be removed only by the Apostolic See.
And, he said, anyone who continued to adhere to Father Broussard's ministry was
effectively excommunicated. The sect could not be contacted last night.
Crossmolina residents sharply divided on whether statue of
Mary should be moved [Source: The Irish Times, June 12, 2003]
Crossmolina residents and Mayo County Council have clashed over
whether a landmark statue of the Virgin Mary currently obstructing traffic in
the town should be moved.
Mayo County Council wants to move the statue of the Blessed Virgin, which was
erected in the Marian Year of 1954, to a graveyard in the town.
Mr Anthony Canavan, one of the original committee members which had the statue
erected, said yesterday: "There was very little suffering in Crossmolina
during the Famine compared to outlying areas. Fifty years ago it was decided to
erect this statue as a mark of gratitude to the Blessed Virgin for being spared
the worst ravages of the Famine." Ms Dorothy (Dor) Lynn, whose house looks
out on the statue, has been its "guardian" since 1972, at the request
of the local community of nuns, placing flowers there on procession days.
"For me the pain of seeing the statue go would be unbearable," she
Townspeople are sharply divided on the proposal that the monument be dismantled
and re-erected in the new extension to the local graveyard.
This divergence of opinion was reflected in a narrow, 14-13 vote in favour of
its removal, at a poorly-attended meeting organised by the community council
earlier this week. It has now been decided to hold a second ballot in the hope
that more people will show up.
Some years ago, the parishioners of Crossmolina voted by a majority of about 80
to 1 to keep the shrine in its present location.
Dr Michael Loftus, chairman of the Crossmolina Community Council, explained
that the removal of the statue was a sensitive issue and would not be resolved
without a further ballot.
In recent weeks, with a major sewerage scheme under way in the town, the county
council suggested it would be an appropriate time to move the monument to a new
location, Dr Loftus said.
As the debate continues, the clergy is staying neutral. Local curate Father Pat
Munnelly said yesterday: "It is an issue between the local authority and
the people. Our only concern - whether the statue is removed or left where it
is - is that it not be damaged in any way."
Deliverance from evil: The annual voodoo pilgrimage of Sodo
brings an explosion of passionate religious fervour to Haiti [Source:
Sunday Telegraph (London), June 8, 2003]
It might have been a vision of hell. In a dank gully, a
maelstrom of water was whipped around moss-covered rocks. Drums were hammering
in the background. A man resembled a cobra as he danced, eyes rolled back so
only the whites could be seen and his head weaving from side to side. He was in
a trance, possessed by a voodoo spirit.
"Damballah," said a woman next to me. Damballah is associated with
snakes. The man moved sinuously among the crowd, water spattering on to him
from 100 feet above. Eventually the spirit left him and he collapsed among the
rocks of the river. Others saved him from drowning by lifting him out.
This was the Sodo, a voodoo pilgrimage held in the tiny town of Ville Bonheur,
in the central mountains of Haiti. On July 16 each year, the village welcomes
about 50,000 Haitian pilgrims, who come in celebration of an appearance of the
Virgin Mary at the waterfall 150 years ago. Like any pilgrimage, it is part
spiritual renewal, part journey and part party.
Haiti doesn't reveal its secrets easily. Much of what you see is alarmingly
alien, but look closely and you will recognise rhythms and patterns from
elsewhere. The country has a mixed French and West African heritage. The name
Sodo in Haitian kweyol (elsewhere creole) derives from the French saut d'eau,
Possession is part of West African religious traditions. Voodoo is a mix of
Catholicism and West African beliefs. These pilgrims worship both the Virgin
Mary and her voodoo counterpart Ezilie Freda, an earthy, life-loving spirit
that oversees sex as well as idealised love.
Where most voodoo ceremonies are either private or difficult to get into during
a short trip, the Sodo is open to all-comers, and the Haitians are generally
delighted that you are interested enough to be there. That said, this is not an
easy trip. There is nowhere to stay in Ville Bonheur, though as a foreigner you
can probably hire space in a room in one of the few houses in town.
Getting there is something of a trial, too - 10 hours in a truck in my case. In
Port-au-Prince I asked a truck driver if I could have a ride. He thumbed me to
the back. But the instant I clambered aboard I realised that something was
awry. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and here were
suitcases and a weary calm instead of knapsacks and ceaseless Creole chatter.
Gradually I worked out that I was hitching a lift to a voodoo pilgrimage in a
truckload of American Protestant Evangelists. Their disappointment was
tangible. And vociferous.
So began five hours of heated debate while being bounced around in the back of
the lorry. The atmosphere reached combustion when we spotted a voodoo doll
nailed to a tree. I emerged a psychologically battered and chastened man.
At midnight I was standing in the moonshadow of the church - firmly locked - in
a crowd of voodoo initiates, all holding candles and mumbling invocations to
God to release the spirits. voodoo market offered candles, cords of coloured
string and portraits of the saints. Men danced past, faces painted in a
black-and-white chequered pattern. Nearby was a roadside crucifix, scorched and
dripping with candlewax. Voodoo drums sounded long into the night.
Most Haitians consider themselves Catholic as well as voodooists and next
morning they were all in church. The diocesan bishop railed against the
meli-melo (mixing) of voodoo and Catholicism. But the congregation had other
things on its mind. Special dedications were passed forward and placed on the
steps of the altar. Candles were lit - the bishop ordered them to be
extinguished - and then a fight broke out at the rear of the church. Voodoo
drummers were trying to force their way in. At the end of the service the
statue of the Virgin Mary was paraded around the town, led by thousands of
dancers and drummers.
The centrepiece of the Sodo was the waterfall. As in many pilgrimages the act
of physical cleansing aids the spiritual purification and the river filled with
people, mostly women, washing. They stripped to their underpants and scrubbed
themselves all over. One headed off with soap, shampoo and a toothbrush. After
they dressed the last thing they did was to hitch up their skirts, drop their
knickers into the stream and let the evil wash away. The river bottom ran
springy with nylon.
A week later, around July 24, the pilgrims were in Plaine du Nord, honouring St
James the Greater and his voodoo counterpart Ogun, the God of War. This was a
much more sinister-looking affair. Ogun likes sacrifices of red cocks and
bullocks and his sanctuary is the Bassin St Jacques, a mud pool.
The Bassin St Jacques is a short drive from Cap Haitien on the north coast. The
crowds promenaded around the town, dressed in red and blue in Ogun's honour,
even in modern camouflage gear. There were markets, food sellers and gambling
games. Bands of drummers thundered away in the background throughout the heat
of the day. Initiates prayed at the church and then threw their candles into
the compound. Eventually they gravitated around the mud pool.
Pilgrims come for all sorts of reasons. A young man sitting next to me at the
mud pool said he had come to give thanks for the year's "good
treatment". Some had very specific requests. Next to him a woman, praying
quietly, showed me her wish-list. On it were a washing machine and
Not surprisingly, unlike at the Sodo, believers do not wash in the mud pool.
Instead they made their dedications - of candles, food and rum - and threw them
in. The pool itself was controlled by a posse of small boys, street children
from the major towns, who fought over the dedications thrown in. They collected
bottles of sacred mud for visitors, for a fee. They even stole from the
unsuspecting - a bottle of rum or a dove for dedication - and charged for its
return. It's all the fun of the fair.
All eyes turned as a bullock was led to the edge of the sacred pool. Suddenly
the poor beast realised what was about to happen and struggled, but they had it
securely, horns tied against a tree. After a theatrical flourish the
executioners set about its neck with a machete. They chopped badly and the
animal bellowed and went down on its knees, tongue lolling. They chopped away
until the head was severed. Then it was held up and dedicated to Ogun.
It's not hard to see how it could be misinterpreted as a vision of devil
The cheapest way to Haiti from Britain is to take a charter flight (Britannia,
0800 000747; www.brit anniadirect.com; jmc, 0870 758 0194; www.jmc.co.uk) to
the Dominican Republic, which shares an island with Haiti, and then travel
overland. Contact Caribe Tours, 001 809 221 4422) from Santo Domingo to Port au
Prince or independently across the northern border at Jimani and Ouanaminthe.
Alternatively, you can fly via Miami on American
Airlines (0845 778 9789; www.americanair.com) and Air France (0845 084 5111;
www.airfrance.com). It helps to make contact with someone in Port au Prince
before going to the Sodo.
Consider staying at the Oloffson Hotel (00 509 223 4000; www.oloffson.com), the
fantastic gingerbread extravaganza that was the inspiration for the hotel in
Graham Greene's The Comedians. Ask for help with getting to the Sodo.
At the Plaine du Nord pilgrimage you can stay in nearby Cap Haitien. Try the
Roi Christophe (509 262 0414), a charming, old colonial house or the Jardins de
L'Ocean (509 262 221169). From here it is a short drive to the Bassin St
Jacques. Plenty of small airlines link Port au Prince to Cap Haitien (about
pounds 30) or go by bus for much less.
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