Liturgical Season 8/11/03 World News
New Resources  Marian Events  Mary in the Secular Press
 News from the
Marian Library
 Prayer Corner News Archives

Mary Page News items give insight into our interest areas, our outreach, and the many ways people honor Our Lady. We welcome your input and your comments.

Liturgical Season

To celebrate the month of August with Mary:

Marian Commemoration Days

Mary Page offers a variety of resources inviting study, reflection and meditation.  We also list important Marian dates for each month of the year.  Please see Marian Commemoration Days for the month of August.

Rosary Markings

Rosary Markings is an answer to John Paul II's proclamation of "The Year of the Rosary" (2002-2003).  Rosary Markings will explore various facets of the rosary all through this anniversary year.  It will be updated frequently.  

See our recent addition from August 5.  Previous Reflections are listed on our Rosary Index.  Please note that many of these documents are available in Spanish as well as English.

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New Resources

A section on international stamps with images of Mary has been added to our Resources index.  The latest added was Mexico.  Expect more countries to follow.

A section on Marian Spiritualities has also been added to our Resources index.  The latest additions were papers on the spirituality of three famous converts.  Expect more articles to follow.

We have also posted our answer to a reader's question, Who is Our Lady of Atocha? and expanded our section on Various Chaplets.  We have also added a meditation related to this week's feast, The Assumption of Mary: A Theological Reflection

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  News from the Marian Library

MSA Call for Papers

"The Immaculate Conception: Human Destiny and Vocation" is the theme of the next meeting of the Mariological Society (Houston, Texas - May, 2004).  Suggested areas for papers include recent bibliography on the Immaculate Conception; Scriptural foundations; anthropological, pastoral, symbolic, and ecumenical implications; original sin in Eastern and Western approaches; the Immaculate Conception in art.   Those wishing to make a presentation should send a precis to the MSA Secretariat (Marian Library) by October 1, 2003.  

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Current Exhibit Extended

Rosaries of the World will remain on display in the Marian Library Gallery through November 10, 2003.  The Gallery is open 8:30 am - 4:30 pm weekdays.  A virtual exhibit may be seen on our Gallery section under Current Exhibit.  For more information, or to arrange for viewing at another time, call (937) 229-4214.  Crèches are also on display in our museum through Nov. 2003.

An article from U.D.'s Campus News Digest about the exhibit may be viewed online at http://www.udayton.edu/news/nr/070303.html.

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Major Exhibit Coming Soon

The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute invites you to visit The Mother of God: Art Celebrates Mary, thirty-eight paintings and sculptures from the permanent collection of The Vatican Museums, spanning seventeen centuries of Christian art and reflecting cultures worldwide.

September 4 - November 10, 2003

Roesch and Marian Library Galleries in Roesch Library on the University of Dayton Campus.
Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Free Admission -- Parking Available

For tours and information call: (937) 229-4254 or email: VaticanExhibit@notes.udayton.edu.
See also the article by Pamela Gregg in the August 22 issue of U.D.'s Campus Report.

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International Marian Research Institute Course Schedule

The schedule of IMRI courses for Fall 2002 - Fall 2003 is now available for view.  
Courses for the Fall semester are scheduled to commence on Oct. 20, 2003.

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Personal thoughts and reflections about Mary 
from our readers 

We've added a section to our Research and Publications section showing selected personal comments from our readers about the Virgin Mary.  Click here to see comments received within the past month.  From this page, feel free to submit your own personal thoughts on Mary.  

We also encourage our readers to submit their opinions on various styles of Marian Art through an on-line art survey.

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Marian Events

Second Annual Celebration of the Culture of Life and Civilization of Love!

Sunday afternoon, August 24 in Buffalo, NY

This will be a great afternoon for the whole family in a park on the Niagara River, under our tent, rain or shine! We’ll enjoy worship music led by Buffalo’s Voices of Mercy and Martin Doman, and hear inspiring talks about Our Lady, and her important role in our lives, our Church, and our troubled times. Join us, for a memorable, free--and fun--time!

For more information and directions go to www.archoftriumph.org/celebration.html.

Click this link for a list of all of the current Marian Events by geographical position.

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Prayer Corner Requests

You are invited to help us pray for our Prayer Corner intentions.  Please take a look!  This site has been updated and enhanced and now allows users to directly submit prayer requests or to volunteer as a prayer partner for these intentions!

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News from Around the World

From Zenit

Not posted this week.

From L’Osservatore Romano

Not posted this week.

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Mary in the Secular Press

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.

Canonized Indian did exist, historian says [Source: The Houston Chronicle, August 1, 2003]

MEXICO CITY - A year after Pope John Paul II canonized the Roman Catholic Church's first Indian saint, a researcher from Mexico's National Library of Anthropology and History said Thursday that academic research supports the existence of Juan Diego. Critics have long questioned the existence of Juan Diego, an Indian who the Church says saw an apparition of a dark-skinned Virgin Mary on a hillside north of Mexico City in 1531. Researcher Asuncion Garcia Samper said the evidence includes a will signed by Juan Diego that refers to his properties and three of his children.


The Archdiocese of Boston said yesterday that the image on a window at Milton Hospital that has drawn thousands of pilgrims since early June is not a miraculous appearance of the Virgin Mary.

After viewing the image and speaking with window specialists, the archdiocese concluded that the image was caused by chemical deposits building up inside the window, forming the image.

"At this point, the image itself appears to be a natural cause," the Rev. Christopher Coyne, spokesman for the archdiocese, said in a telephone interview.

Meanwhile, Milton Hospital is considering moving the pane of glass to another location that could better accommodate the thousands of visitors. The archdiocese is working with the hospital to decide whether to move the image, said the hospital chairman, Richard P. Ward.

Multitudes have flocked to see the image in a third-story window of what appears to be the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus.

Some don't care what the church says about it.

"It's a miracle," said MaryLee Marra, 49, of Hyde Park, last night. She has visited the image weekly since she first heard about it - sometimes two or three times a week. "I don't think what the archdiocese said would sway me."

Milton Hospital asked the archdiocese to investigate the image, Coyne said.

Coyne said that miraculous images in the Roman Catholic faith are usually connected with healing. If the image can be explained by a natural cause, the church does not find it to be a miracle.

Since the image has gained national attention, the hospital has asked people to limit their visiting hours from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Ward said there are no plans to change the times.

"It is what it is," he said. "We don't take any position on whether it's a miracle or not. When you get to the issue of why it turned out to look like the traditional picture of Mary, each person's going to have to answer the question himself."

Kathy White of Hyde Park said it's up to the individual to decide whether the image is a miracle or not.

"If there are all these people that come here to get some comfort, that's miraculous in and of itself," she said.

Ward said that, although no decision has been made yet, there is a possibility the pane of glass will be moved to a better location so people can view it.

"It's a beautiful image that's waking the devotion and piety of people the way other images of the saints and Blessed Mother do," said Coyne.

BRITAIN: MONEY FOR AN OLD MASTER [Source: The New York Times, July 24, 2003]

Britain's lottery fund has awarded $18.4 million to the National Gallery in London to assist its struggle to keep a Raphael painting sought by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Reuters reported yesterday. The painting, regarded by the gallery as the most significant privately owned old master in Britain, is "Madonna of the Pinks," depicting the Virgin Mary with a sprig of pink flowers. Last year, the Getty offered to buy the painting, on loan since 1992 to the National Gallery from its owner, the Duke of Northumberland. Newspapers said the Getty offered $56 million. The British government temporarily banned export of the painting, giving the National Gallery a chance to match the Getty offer. A spokeswoman said the gallery was confident that the lottery award could be supplemented by public donations sufficient to enable the seller to realize an amount equal to that offered by the Getty. As a public institution, the gallery would be exempt from taxes on the transaction.

Guadalupe replica, relic attracting faithful here [Source: Chicago Sun-Times, July 17, 2003]

Two versions of a popular Roman Catholic relic from Mexico--a small piece of the original and a full-size replica--are being displayed in the Chicago area.

The faithful believe that an image of the Virgin Mary, known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, appeared on the tilma, or cloak, of a poor Mexican Indian named Juan Diego in 1531. He became a saint in July 2002.

A full-size replica of the Tilma of Tepeyac has been visiting Chicago area parishes, mostly in DuPage County, since Friday. Some parishioners have prayed over the replica at abortion clinics.

It has been viewed at 10 churches and may be seen at three more: St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naperville at 7:30 p.m. Friday; St. James the Apostle Parish in Glen Ellyn at 5 p.m. Saturday, and St. Joan of Arc Parish in Lisle at Sunday morning masses and a 2 p.m. Sunday service.

Next week, a small piece of the original relic will be displayed at two churches, one in Chicago and the other in Gary, Ind.

Measuring about one half inch square, it is in a silver locket displayed around the neck of a wood carving of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The relic, believed to be the only one of its kind, was cut from the tilma and given to the Los Angeles Archdiocese in 1941.

It is on an 18-city tour that began May 30 in Denver and ends Dec. 7 in New York City.

At 5 p.m. on July 25, the relic may be seen at Our Lady of Tepeyac Church, 2226 S. Whipple. It will then move to St. Stanislaus Church in Gary, where it will be displayed at Sunday morning masses July 27 and at a 6 p.m. Spanish mass July 28.

Still Smiling at Eastport Shrine [Source: The New York Times, July 13, 2003]

HAROLD GRANGER said he journeys from his home in Flushing, Queens, to Our Lady of the Island each year to thank the Virgin Mary for curing his wife of colon cancer.

"She answered my prayers, and I'm forever grateful," Mr. Granger said.

Maureen James of East Northport said she visits the shrine in Eastport because praying with people of the same faith helps to strengthen her faith.

Sexual abuse scandals have bruised the Roman Catholic Church, but they seem to have had little effect on this popular site. The Rev. Gerald Fitzsimmons, leader of the United States province of the Montfort Missionaries, the religious order that operates the shrine, estimated that 100,000 pilgrims will visit it this year, slightly more than in previous years.

No one is claiming the Virgin Mary appeared on the Eastport site; it just happened to be land that was given to the Montforts, who were looking to build a retreat and gathering place for Long Island Catholics. The vision become a reality in 1976 after a local duck-farming family donated 65 acres of undeveloped Eastport land (another Eastport family contributed 5 more acres).

The shrine has manicured lawns and forested areas dotted with statues and topiary arrangements depicting the life of Jesus and other Bible scenes. It has a chapel and a cafeteria/recreational space. But its main attraction is an 18-foot granite statue of Mary with an infant Jesus that sits atop a boulder of rose quartz that came to rest during the last Ice Age atop a hill overlooking Moriches Bay.

The statue, carved from a 40-ton piece of rock, took more than a year to complete, said the Rev. William Vigliotta, who has been overseeing the shrine's daily activities since it opened. (It was Father Vigliotta's parents who donated most of the land.)

"When we first saw the model of the statue we weren't too happy, because she seemed sad," said Father Vigliotta, who instructed the sculptors at the Rock of Ages Studio in Vermont, where the work was done, to "put a little smile on Our Lady's face."

They did, and today the beaming statue is visible from Sunrise Highway two miles to the south.

The shrine is open from sunrise to sunset and is staffed by Father Vigliotta, two other priests--the Rev. Raymond Graham and the Rev. James Manning--and five paid employees who work in the kitchen, gift shop and coffee shop. About 30 volunteers also donate their time. Mass is said on Sunday at 10 a.m. and on other days at 9:30 a.m.

To handle the crowds, Father Vigliotta said that two years ago the Montforts doubled the size of the cafeteria and recreational space, which can now accommodate 200. Under construction is a new outdoor pavilion to be used as a picnic and resting area.

The funds for the new construction and the shrine's day-to-day maintenance come from donations at the gate and at various offering places around the site. There is no admission fee.

Mary Vitale of St. Jude's Roman Catholic Church in Mastic Beach said her group, the Queen of the Universe Legion of Mary, would make its annual trip to the shrine later this month. "It's great to see the shrine grow and meet the needs of the visitors," she said. "Every year there is something new."

The Montfort Missionaries, founded in France at the beginning of the 18th century, are devoted to spreading Catholicism under the patronage of the Virgin Mary. The group says it has about 1,000 priests and brothers carrying out its mission in 30 countries. In the United States there are 35 Montfort priests and brothers, including Father Fitzsimmons and the three priests who operate the Eastport shrine.

The shrine operation, however, is separate from the Montforts' missionary work. Father Fitzsimmons, whose office is in Ozone Park, Queens, said the shrine is "basically self-sustained" and does not bankroll the Montforts' missionary activities.

A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Rockville Centre declined to comment on the shrine, noting that the Montforts do not fall under the direct control of the diocese. The Montforts displayed their independence this year by allowing the Voice of the Faithful, a grassroots religious group formed in response to the church scandals, to celebrate Mass at the Eastport shrine even though Bishop William Murphy, the leader of the diocese, has banned the group from holding meetings on diocese property.

Teenage mums go to aid of Madonna [Source: Sunday Times (London), July 13, 2003]

THE National Gallery has recast the Virgin Mary as an icon for disadvantaged teenage mothers in an attempt to win Pounds 20m in lottery funding, writes Richard Brooks.

The gallery desperately needs the money if it is to stop the Madonna of the Pinks, a painting by the Renaissance artist Raphael, from being sold to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

The painting's owner, the Duke of Northumberland, wants a total of Pounds 29m for the work, only Pounds 9m of which the gallery has managed to raise on its own account.

The lottery has been sensitive to accusations of elitism since 1995 when it paid Pounds 12m to members of the Churchill family to stop papers written by the wartime prime minister leaving Britain.

The incident sparked a row, with critics arguing that lottery funds should never again be used to swell the coffers of the great and the good.

In an attempt to prevent a repeat of such criticism, the gallery has been busing in disadvantaged mothers--some as young as 14--to see Raphael's masterpiece.

The Madonna--herself a disadvantaged mother--is said to have proved an inspiration to these "ordinary people".

In its submission for the Pounds 20m grant, the gallery plays on its work with the women, most of whom come from London's East End.

The lottery, which meets next week to decide if it will give money to the Raphael fund, is apparently split. So far it has never given more than Pounds 9m for a single picture.

Miracles of Notre-Dame: Settings by Gautier de Coincy [Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri), June 29, 2003]

The Harp Consort; Andrew Lawrence-King, director

Harmonia Mundi HMU 907317

We tend to think of marketing as a modern invention, but it may well be simply an element of human nature. Consider Gautier de Coincy, who in the early 13th century decided to find a way to get the laity to singing the praises of the Virgin Mary, "Notre-Dame," instead of those of the assorted lust objects and adult beverages in which they'd hitherto rejoiced.

He did it by the simple expedient of co-opting the best tunes and putting sophisticated new words--poems of devotion to Mary and praise of the miracles attributed to her--to them. And it worked. The poetry is often lofty; the tunes would be at home anywhere.

The somewhat misleadingly named Harp Consort (its forces include singers, vielles, assorted wind instruments, percussion, medieval lute, psaltery, organetto and exactly one harp although it is played by the ensemble's leader) gives a dandy account of de Coincy's oeuvre. Those with an interest in early music will find this a first-rate performance and well-engineered recording--and some catchy tunes, too.

- Sarah Bryan Miller

NOTES: Listen to audio clips of the CD "Miracles of Notre-Dame"STLtoday.com/music.

OUR LADY OF THE FOREST [Source: Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2003]

A young pothead has visions of the Virgin Mary, and all hell breaks loose in this witty fable of faith, greed, purity, and hope from the bestselling author (Snow Falling on Cedars, 1994, etc.). She's not exactly St. Bernadette, but Ann Holmes is a decent girl, especially considering her bad start in life. The illegitimate daughter of a teenager, Ann grew up poor and ran away from home at 14 after her mother's boyfriend began raping her. Now she's an itinerant farmworker, residing in a state campground and eking out a living picking wild mushrooms in the rain-soaked forests near North Fork, Washington. A devout Catholic who never goes anywhere without her catechism and rosary, Ann is considered something of an oddball by the other campers, but she makes several friends, including fellow runaway Carolyn Greer, an active doper with none of Ann's religious sensibilities. When Ann confides in Carolyn that she thinks she has seen the Virgin Mary in the forest one morning, Carolyn tells her flat-out that she's either tripping or nuts. They go to see whether the local priest can make any sense of the situation. Father Collins is an unlikely spiritual advisor; he lives in a trailer park, reads Travel & Leisure on the can, and rarely wears a collar. Skeptical but sympathetic, he encourages Ann to bring him reports of these apparitions as they take place. Naturally, word gets out, and Ann soon has a large cult of followers. Their demand that a church be erected on the site of the visions causes problems with the local bishop (whose investigating commission considers Ann deluded) and the local timber company (which owns the forest). It also makes life even worse for Ann, who never wanted to be the leader of anything. Sharp and incisive without a trace of either cynicism or credulity: a clever take on a familiar fable of redemption. First printing of 350,000

An icon of our own; A new image of the Virgin Mary commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Springfield Catholic Diocese [Source: The State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL), June 29, 2003]

Growing up in Bristol, Conn., the son of Polish immigrants, Marek Czarnecki saw the importance his household placed on the icon of Our Lady of Czestocowa.

"We said our prayers every morning in front of her," Czarnecki recalls. "It was a sign of our priorities. This picture was not art. It was not a simple picture, but a living presence, a person in our midst. And it was more important than the furniture or the car and was treated with more deference and respect than we even treated each other."

The image became a spiritual center for Poland. Desecrated many times by invading armies, a 15th-century attack by the Swedes bloodied and literally broke the icon. Restorers couldn't save the image, so reproduction artists simply kept the war scars on Mary's face.

"It was such a powerful sign that identified the original, and it was meant to show that the Virgin Mary suffers with her people," Czarnecki says.

Czarnecki, a 39-year-old Catholic iconographer from Avon, Conn., was recently tapped to create a new image of the Virgin Mary. The resulting work, "The Mother of God, the Life-giving Spring," commemorates the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese.

The icon was commissioned by Paul and Paulette Kardos, a Springfield Catholic couple familiar with Czarnecki's work.

The new icon, which was delivered to Springfield in March, has a fourth-century prototype in "Our Lady of Constantinople," in which the Virgin Mary was placed halfway up in a fountain. Legend has it that the fountain's waters were miraculous, especially healing the blind.

In "The Life-giving Spring," Mary is depicted in full body above a spring in a field. The Christ child is seated on her lap, flanked by two angels. Below, a crowd of people, representative of the church's diversity and led by a bishop, makes its way to the spring, some dipping their hands into the waters.

The coats of arms of the Alton and Springfield diocese are on the font of the spring. (The original seat of the diocese was Quincy, though it never had a resident bishop. The seat was moved to Alton in 1857 and to Springfield in 1923.) On the icon's borders are agricultural images synonymous with the farm land of the area: soybeans, corn and wheat.
The Rev. Thom Dennis, who served as an intermediary between Czarnecki and the diocese and is the producer of the sesquicentennial celebration, says the Virgin Mary, as patroness of the diocese, was agreed upon as the central figure for the icon. The use of water is an obvious connection to the name Springfield, but also an allusion to "Christ the living water" and to water as an important sacramental, such as in baptism, Dennis adds.

"We wanted to commission a special image of Our Lady as a gift to the diocese and to honor her," says Paulette Kardos. "This icon isn't appropriate for anybody else. He's made it personally for the Springfield diocese."

Luke the Evangelist is said to have written an icon for which the Virgin Mary herself posed. It was reputedly painted on wood from a table from the holy family's house.

Icons have spurred armies into battle and likewise been called upon to protect warring nations. Some icons reportedly possess miraculous powers.

"First and primary, an icon is a tool used in prayer. It is art secondary," Czarnecki says.

Dennis says the Catholic Church has realized the importance images, such as icons, command in leading people to prayer.

"It's a sacramental, like water," Dennis says. "It's more than just a pretty picture because it's a holy thing. It gives us insight into the divine."

While iconography has been more readily identified with Eastern churches, the Greeks and Russians in particular, Czarnecki says the art form belongs to everyone.

"Before there was an East, before there was a West, before there were such things as denominations, there were icons," he says.

"The tradition belongs to us, too," Dennis adds. "Iconography has always been part of the Catholic Church, but to a much more subtle degree than the Eastern churches."

A product of the School of Visual Arts in New York, Czarnecki apprenticed under Ksenia Pokrovsky, a Russian Orthodox immigrant who had settled in Boston.

"Those who did iconography in the old Soviet Union were either collaborators with the KGB or protected by the holy spirit," Czarnecki says. "I always think of icons as an expression of spiritual life in Russia, but that's what the state wanted to destroy in people."

Through working with Pokrovsky, Czarnecki says he adopted a Byzantine style of iconographic writing.

"There is no "American style" of iconography yet, because the tradition is so young here, and we are a blending of nationalistic styles," he says. "I prefer the Byzantine style because the figures are warmer. They have a sense of mercy and compassion in their expressions, even in the relaxed poses."

Czarnecki, who has one assistant in his studio, used traditional methods and natural materials. For the Springfield icon, Czarnecki used a birch plywood panel. After gluing down a sheet of linen, he made a paste of marble dust and chalk, covering it until it was paper smooth. Czarnecki then did his drawing and gold leafing. The paint was egg yolk and vinegar mixed with powder pigments.

"It's stood the test of time," Czarnecki says. "It's the way icons have been written forever."

Because the paint is so thin, soft watercolor brushes made of ox hair or squirrel hair were used. The end product is covered in cobalt.

The process, Czarnecki says, is almost more spiritual and less artistic. A number of simple prayers--such as the "Jesus Prayer" ("Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me, a sinner") or the "Peter Prayer" ("Lord help me, or I will drown")--are uttered throughout the writing of the icon. Traditional iconographers fast during its writing.

Each parish in the diocese will get a reproduction of the icon, and there will be postcards and matted and mounted prints available for sale. An artist is building an elaborate casing for the icon, which will be permanently housed in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, after the sesquicentennial celebrations subside.

Czarnecki says he hopes the icon is an invitation to deeper prayer for those who view it.

"I feel my biggest success as an iconographer is when I don't feel my own hand in it," he says. "I do what I can to see it's transparent enough. That's why we call icons windows. I have to make that pane of glass as clear as possible."

Palm reader vanishes with cash; City police say woman victimized several immigrant families [Source: The Record (Bergen County, NJ), August 1, 2003]

Blanca Barranco was worried that her husband was cheating on her when she spotted a flier for a palm and tarot card reader in a Main Street laundry.

She decided to call the number listed. Olga, a "spiritual adviser," the flier advertised, "will help with whatever problem you have."

Instead, police said, Olga helped herself to Barranco's money in a well-planned swindle in which she promised at least seven people she would bless their money, but then disappeared with it. The victims, all Mexican, say she exploited their belief in the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico, in convincing them of her spiritual powers.

Drawing her clients in deeper with each visit, the consejera, or tarot card reader, tricked them into giving her upward of $1,000 each, saying she was taking the money to a church in Elizabeth for a special blessing that would double their money. When Barranco and others contacted her last week for their next appointments, she was gone.

Carol Pagliarulo of 88 Thomas St. said Olga gave her name as Maria Gomez when her daughter rented out the second-floor apartment a month ago. Olga moved in with her husband and two children, and were joined soon after by another couple and their 12-year-old boy, Pagliarulo said.

Police, however, said they cannot confirm Olga's real name and asked anyone with information to call (973) 321-3297.

"Anyone being approached by a person offering this type of situation or any type of money-exchange offer should call the police and not fall prey to these criminals," Detective Lt. Don Giaquinto said in a statement.

Pagliarulo said she didn't give much thought to her upstairs neighbors until Monday, when a stream of people rang her doorbell, asking where the family had gone.

"One lady was crying her eyes out," said Toby Rodriguez, a neighbor. "I said to her, 'How can you give your money?'"

Rodriguez said she had seen Olga and her family driving an older-model gray Nissan sedan, which had temporary New York license plates taped on the window.
Several victims had borrowed the money and are at a loss as to how to repay it.

Barranco, a mother of four who does not work, said she does not plan to tell her sister, who lent her $1,000, about what happened and is thinking of getting a job to pay her back.

Barranco and other victims said they sought out the palm reader's help for a variety of reasons and never expected to be tricked.

She said that on her first visit to Olga, she was charged $10. She told Barranco that her husband was not cheating on her, but that someone else had been trying to harm her with witchcraft for the past eight years. For $280, Olga could cure all her ills. On other visits, she took eggs, flowers, and tomatoes and passed them over Barranco's body, claiming to purify the woman.

Olga told her to pray to the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe to clean her life and family.

Eustimio Flores, 39, of Paterson said he consulted Olga to cure a skin ailment on his hands and feet after he had an allergic reaction to an ointment a doctor had prescribed.

"With normal medicine I had an allergy, so I had to look for something else, an alternative medicine," Flores said. He lost $2,600 in the scam.

Flores and the others were persuaded to give her money little by little through smaller deceptions. With each victim, Olga ripped a dollar bill in two and folded it into a small piece of fabric. She tied up the bundle and told clients to keep it on their bodies for three days.

After three days, clients found a pair of dollar bills in the bundle and couldn't explain how they got there. Olga said she could do the same thing with $1,000.

Though Barranco and Garcia said they protested at first, they finally borrowed the money and brought it to Olga, who promised that their money troubles would disappear.

Most of the victims said at some point they had their doubts but were nonetheless persuaded to surrender their money.

"I didn't know whether to believe it or not, but she told me she would give me the money back," said Elena Garcia, 31, of Passaic. "I feel bad and I feel guilty because it wasn't just my money."

Milton Hospital may move 'Madonna' image [Source: The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA), July 29, 2003]

The Milton Madonna could be moving.

The Milton Hospital Board of Directors concluded at a meeting last night that the window containing an image may have to be moved, board Chairman Richard P. Ward said this morning.

Some people consider the window image to be a likeness of the Virgin Mary.

"The board did not make a final decision, but given safety concerns of people walking up to see it, the board concluded that the window may have to be moved," Ward said.

"The board asked the administration to explore where it might be able to be moved to, such as one of the Marian Centers in the state," Ward said.

The Boston Archdiocese last week concluded the Milton Madonna is not a miraculous appearance of the Virgin Mary.

A church spokesman said that for the image to be considered a miracle, earthly origins like condensation would have to be ruled out.

The image has brought thousands of people to the hospital grounds since it was first noticed June 10. Two weeks ago, flecks of green, blue, yellow and red appeared throughout the image.

The Rev. Christopher Coyne, archdiocese spokesman, said that while the image is not a miracle, the church would take no official position on the origin of the image.

Fairfield site transformed into holy shrine; Believers expect miracle to take place in Fairfield Holy site created for appearance by Virgin Mary [Source: Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, CT), July 28, 2003]

Holy shrine: Grace D'Amico, left, and Nello Ceccarelli stand beside the Virgin Mary shrine they built on property at the end of Fairfield Avenue in Fairfield. Ceccarelli said he believes the Virgin Mary will pay a visit to the "holy" land and invites people to stop and pray there.

FAIRFIELD - Nello Ceccarelli believes he'll see the Virgin Mary on a Fairchild Avenue site that he and Grace D'Amico have turned into hallowed ground. "I believe I'm going to see the Blessed Virgin," said Ceccarelli, 87, a devout Catholic. "I'm not senile, and there's nothing wrong with me. I'm making the statement; I'm all there in my senses, and I believe I will see the Blessed Virgin."

"I hope when I do see it, somebody else will also," he added, standing next to the shrine on an acre of land at the end of Fairchild Avenue near Interstate 95.

Ceccarelli and D'Amico, his friend, shoveled dirt for several months to fashion a hill on his lot. Then, they positioned a statue of the Virgin Mary, encased in concrete and glass, on top of the hill.

They planted 12 blue spruce trees around the shrine and set up a stockade fence behind it.

D'Amico then placed a marker for the son she lost at birth next to the shrine.

"I always wanted to have something over here religiously," Ceccarelli said. "I picked the spot, and I said this is where I want to have it."

"This is holy. This is for God," Ceccarelli said.

"Boy D'Amico," the child D'Amico lost at birth, was the twin of a girl born in November 1957, D'Amico said. He is buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport.

"My daughter pulled through at 7 months, and he passed away. It's too bad, because it would have been beautiful to have one of each," she said.

The twin boy was stillborn Nov. 8, 1957. The twin girl, who was born a day later, is now a 45-year-old Windsor resident with three children of her own, D'Amico said.
Ceccarelli said he "would like people to come down and see the Blessed Virgin and pray, and I believe they will get help, and God will listen to them."

Ceccarelli is a longtime Representative Town Meeting member from District 5 who sets up a Nativity scene on Town Hall Green every December and who stages a re-enactment of Christ's crucifixion before Easter every year.

Ceccarelli and D'Amico said they're not done sprucing up the property, which Ceccarelli has owned since 1945.

They want to place a cement bench near the Virgin Mary statue and hang a wreath and flowers on the stockade fence.

"Grace helped me a lot on this," Ceccarelli said. "This is a nice place, and I like it, and I spend most of my days here."

Thousands view cloth that Catholics link with Virgin Mary [Source: The Associated Press State & Local Wire, July 13, 2003]

Several thousand people gathered at St. Paul Catholic Church to view a half-inch-square piece of cloak that Catholics believe a Mexican peasant wore in 1531 when he met the Virgin Mary.

The cloth was brought to the church to be displayed for one day.

The rest of the cloak, known as the Tilma of Tepeyac, is emblazoned with the image of Mary and is on display in Mexico City where millions of pilgrims go to view it every year.

About 3,000 Catholics attended Mass and viewed the relic at St. Paul on Saturday, said Andrew Walther, coordinator of the tour that will take the Tilma of Tepeyac to 20 cities this year.

The event also drew some Protestants.

For Catholics, the experience of seeing the bit of cloth is "a once-in-a-lifetime thing," said Shirley Montague, who has worshipped at St. Paul for 45 years.

"It's a beautiful thing; it's just a very emotional thing," she said. "It's very inspirational. Everybody should have an opportunity to see something like this."

According to Catholic tradition, the Virgin Mary appeared to a Mexican peasant named Juan Diego in 1531. She instructed him to tell the bishop of Mexico City to build a church in her honor on the site of an old pagan temple on a hilltop called Tepeyac.

To convince the bishop that Juan Diego was her messenger, Mary miraculously imprinted her image on Juan Diego's cloak and caused roses to bloom in December. Juan Diego took the flowers to the bishop as sign of his authority.

Mexico marks anniversary of first Indian saint [Source: The Associated Press State & Local Wire, July 31, 2003]

A year after Pope John Paul II canonized the Roman Catholic Church's first Indian saint, a researcher from Mexico's National Library of Anthropology and History said Thursday that academic research supports the existence of Juan Diego.

Critics have long questioned the existence of Juan Diego, an Indian who the church says saw an apparition of a dark-skinned Virgin Mary on a hillside north of Mexico City in 1531.

A temple eventually was built near the site to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe and an image of the Virgin, emblazoned on Juan Diego's cloak, is still on display at the basilica.

In a news release issued Thursday, researcher Asuncion Garcia Samper said that the evidence includes a will signed by Juan Diego that refers to his properties and three of his children.

"There are documents that demonstrate the historical development and real existence of this person," she said.

However, Garcia said Diego wasn't the poor Indian peasant described in legend, but an influential Indian landowner.

Her findings bolster those of church historians whose investigations of the Juan Diego story helped lead Pope John Paul to canonize him on July 31, 2002, at the Basilica of Guadalupe.

On Thursday, hundreds flocked to the basilica to honor Juan Diego, some kissing the floor as they entered and others crawling on their knees. Entire families, old and young united for prayer during an anniversary Mass.

"He is the most miraculous saint," 59-year-old Teodosa Reinosa said.

The Mass was similar to the canonization celebration, with young men wearing Indian clothes and dancing around the altar. The beat of drums mixed with incense floating in the air.

Cardinal Norberto Rivera called Juan Diego "a bridge that united the indigenous and Spanish cultures."

During his trip last year to Mexico, the pope appealed for greater respect for Indians, who suffer from widespread poverty and discrimination throughout the Americas. 

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