News from the
Marian Library
Mary in the
Secular Press


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 September 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 September.

The Eucharist with Mary

Eucharist with Mary is an answer to John Paul II's proclamation of "a special Year of the Eucharist" (2004-2005).  This feature will explore facets of Mary's relationship with the Eucharist and will be updated frequently throughout this year.  Our latest addition is Peter Julian Eymard on Mary and the Eucharist.

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New Resources

A section on Children's Resources has been added to our About Mary page.  The latest addition was a bibliography of Activity Books. Expect more sections to follow.

A section on international stamps with images of Mary has also been added to About Mary page.  The latest added was Raphael's Madonnas on Stamps.  Expect more countries to follow.

We have posted a meditation on the prayer, Ave Maria.

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  News from the Marian Library

Polish Madonna Notecards Are Back!

Due to popular demand, The Marian Library at the University of Dayton is once again offering the Polish Madonna notecards for a very limited time. There are seven cards and envelopes in each pack, and each card features a different Madonna by Polish artist Wislawa Kwiatkowska. The cards measure 4 1/2" x 6 1/4" and the packs are shrink-wrapped. The back of each card gives the picture title and its description and the web site of the online version of the Polish Madonna exhibit so the people you give the cards to can go online and see all the beautiful Polish Madonnas for themselves. The pictures included in the notecards are featured below.








The cards are $5.00 per pack, and the shipping and handling charges per order are as follows:

1 pack            =   $2 First Class Mail
2 packs     =   $3 First Class Mail
3 packs        =   $5 Priority Mail
4-6 packs     =   $6 Priority Mail
7-9 packs     =   $8 Priority Mail
10-12 packs    =   $9 Priority Mail

To order the cards, specify in a letter the number of packs you want and enclose a check or money order made out to "The Marian Library." Mail it to:

The Marian Library
Attention: Notecards
University of Dayton
Dayton, OH 45469-1390

We will NOT be accepting telephone orders, but if you have any questions, call The Marian Library at 937-229-4214.

For information on Polish Madonna prints available click into

New Web Addresses for The Mary Page

In order to make our web site more accessible, The Mary Page may now be reached at the following URLs:;; and  The original address on the University of Dayton site remains active as well.

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Web Collaborators

Two important Catholic websites have added The Mary Page to their list of Media Partners. highlights items from The Mary Page in their section on Catholic News. includes a Mary Channel on their navbar with Mary Page articles. Please visit these site in return.  We expect continued collaboration with them in the future.

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New Exhibit!

The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute presents: The Song of Songs by Henry Setter which will include 78 illustrations of the Bible's Song of Songs.  For tours and information call 937-229-4214.  Click here for a virtual exhibit.

September 15 - October 31, 2005

Monday -Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Free Admission-Handicapped Accessible-Parking Available

Creches and Straw Art are also on display in our museum.

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International Marian Research Institute Course Schedule

IMRI courses for the Fall 2005 semester begin on October 10.  The course schedule through Fall 2005 is now available.

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Fall Meeting of the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary-USA

ESBVM-USA will hold its Fall meeting on Saturday, October 1 in Philadelphia, PA.  The meeting will be held a St. Mary's Church at the University of Pennsylvania, Hamilton Village, 3916 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104.  Information about speakers and directions to the meeting may be found on the ESBVM website:

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

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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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Commentary on Psalm 131(132)11-18
On the Transfer of the Ark of the Covenant
Vatican City, September 21, 2005

Here are the concluding remarks of the address of Benedict XVI.

The spiritual center of this hymn thus becomes a prelude to John's proclamation, "And the Word became flesh and lived among us" (John 1:14).  We conclude remembering that the beginning of this second part of Psalm 131(132) has been habitually used by the Fathers of the Church to describe the Incarnation of the Word in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As early as St. Irenaeus, referring to Isaiah's prophecy concerning the virgin giving birth, explained, "The words, 'Listen, therefore, O house of David' (Isaiah 7:13) indicate that the eternal king that God had promised to David to rise up from 'the fruit of his womb,' an expression that indicates a pregnant virgin. Therefore Scripture ... proposes and affirms that the birth of the proclaimed 'one who was to come' would come from the Virgin. Exactly as Elizabeth, full of the Holy Spirit confirmed saying to Mary, 'Blessed are you among all women and blessed is the fruit of your womb' (Luke 1:42). Thus the Holy Spirit indicates to those who want to listen that in the birth of the Virgin, in other words, of Mary, the promise made by God to David to bring forth a king from the fruit of his womb, is fulfilled" ("Contro le eresie," 3,21,5: Già e Non Ancora, CCCXX, Milan 1997, p. 285).  In this way, we see God's truthfulness and fidelity in the great span that goes from the ancient psalm to the incarnation of the Lord. In this Psalm, the mystery of God who lives among us appears and shines forth as he becomes one of us in the Incarnation. God's fidelity and our trust in the turns of history become a source of joy for us.

[After the address, the Pope gave this summary in English:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters, … As St. Irenaeus said, "she completed the promise made by God to David, bringing forth a king as the fruit of her womb." May we, like Mary, always respond to God's covenant with joy and perseverance.

On Holiness and the Blessed Sacrament
"Priests Who Are in Love With the Eucharist"

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, September 18, 2005

Here is the conclusion of the address Benedict XVI gave today before he prayed the midday Angelus with the crowds gathered at the papal summer residence.

We will direct ourselves now to Mary, praying in a special way for all priests of the world so that they take from this Year of the Eucharist the fruit of renewed love for the sacrament that they celebrate.

May they, through the intercession of the Virgin Mother of God, be able to always live and give testimony to the mystery that has been place in their hands for the salvation of the world.

Benedict XVI's Homily on the Feast of Mary's Assumption
"We Have a Mother in Heaven"
Vatican City, August 15, 2005

Here are excerpts of the homily Benedict XVI gave Aug. 15 when celebrating Mass in the parish church of Castel Gandolfo on the solemnity of the Assumption.

...  It gives me great joy to celebrate Mass in this beautiful parish church on the day of the Assumption ...

The feast of the Assumption is a day of joy. God has won. Love has won. It has won life. Love has shown that it is stronger than death, that God possesses the true strength and that his strength is goodness and love.

Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven: There is even room in God for the body. Heaven is no longer a very remote sphere unknown to us.

We have a Mother in heaven. And the Mother of God, the Mother of the Son of God, is our Mother. He himself has said so. He made her our Mother when he said to the disciple and to all of us: "Behold, your Mother!" We have a Mother in heaven. Heaven is open, heaven has a heart.

In the Gospel we heard the Magnificat, that great poem inspired by the Holy Spirit that came from Mary's lips, indeed, from Mary's heart. This marvelous canticle mirrors the entire soul, the entire personality of Mary. We can say that this hymn of hers is a portrait of Mary, a true icon in which we can see her exactly as she is. I would like to highlight only two points in this great canticle.

It begins with the word "Magnificat": my soul "magnifies" the Lord, that is, "proclaims the greatness" of the Lord. Mary wanted God to be great in the world, great in her life and present among us all. She was not afraid that God might be a "rival" in our life, that with his greatness he might encroach on our freedom, our vital space. She knew that if God is great, we too are great ...

Only if God is great is humankind also great. With Mary, we must begin to understand that this is so ...

A second observation: Mary's poem--the Magnificat--is quite original; yet at the same time, it is a "fabric" woven throughout of "threads" from the Old Testament, of words of God.

Thus, we see that Mary was, so to speak, "at home" with God's word, she lived on God's word, she was penetrated by God's word. To the extent that she spoke with God's words, she thought with God's words, her thoughts were God's thoughts, her words, God's words. She was penetrated by divine light and this is why she was so resplendent, so good, so radiant with love and goodness.

Mary lived on the Word of God, she was imbued with the Word of God. And the fact that she was immersed in the Word of God and was totally familiar with the Word also endowed her later with the inner enlightenment of wisdom ...

Thus, Mary speaks with us, speaks to us, invites us to know the Word of God, to love the Word of God, to live with the Word of God, to think with the Word of God ...

Mary is taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, and with God and in God she is Queen of heaven and earth. And is she really so remote from us?

The contrary is true. Precisely because she is with God and in God, she is very close to each one of us.  While she lived on this earth she could only be close to a few people. Being in God, who is close to us, actually, "within" all of us, Mary shares in this closeness of God. Being in God and with God, she is close to each one of us, knows our hearts, can hear our prayers, can help us with her motherly kindness and has been given to us, as the Lord said, precisely as a "mother" to whom we can turn at every moment.

She always listens to us, she is always close to us, and being Mother of the Son, participates in the power of the Son and in his goodness. We can always entrust the whole of our lives to this Mother, who is not far from any one of us.

On this feast day, let us thank the Lord for the gift of the Mother, and let us pray to Mary to help us find the right path every day. Amen.

[Translation of Italian original issued by the Holy See]

At Lourdes, Gypsies Remember Auschwitz Victims
Lourdes, France, August 25, 2005

The 49th pilgrimage of gypsy communities to Lourdes remembered victims, especially their own, who died in the Nazi-run Auschwitz-Birkenau camps.

During the pilgrimage to the Lourdes Grotto, before the image of the Virgin Mary, the gypsies prayed for an end to racial discrimination. Some 7,000 gypsies arrived in Lourdes in some 1,100 caravans. The pilgrimage ended Wednesday.

Angelus Address
Castelgandolfo, Italy, September 11, 2005

The Holy Father concluded: "Mary, present before the Cross at Calvary, is likewise present with the Church and as Mother of the Church in each of our Eucharistic celebrations. For this reason, no one better than her can teach us to understand and experience the Mass with faith and love, uniting ourselves to Christ's redeeming sacrifice. When we receive Holy Communion, we too, like Mary and united with her, embrace the wood that Jesus, with His love, transformed into an instrument of salvation, and we pronounce our 'Amen,' our 'yes' to Love that was crucified and rose again."

Benedict XVI: Eucharist, vocation, mission are the tracks of the WYD
Vatican City, August 24, 2005

In his traditional Wednesday appointment for weekly catechesis, the pontiff talked of his experience in Germany, going over the various phases and significant points. In closing he said:

We pray now so that the youth may go from Cologne with the light of Christ, who is truth and love and that they may spread this everywhere. I entrust that with the help of the Holy Spirit and the prayer of the Virgin Mary, we will be able to witness a spring of hope in Germany, Europe and the whole world.

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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.

Catholic Landmark Closing Its Doors
[Source: The Toronto Sun, August 28, 2005]

A financial crisis has forced the Roman Catholic order of the Loretto Sisters to close their Loretto Christian Life Centre as of Sept. 1.

Shutting the landmark spiritual and educational facility "was a difficult decision for us, and involved much consideration, reflection and consultation," Sister Carmen Diston, Canadian provincial leader of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the religious community that has used the centre since 1870, told the Catholic Register newspaper.


But she said the decision does not mean the sisters are leaving Niagara Falls. "This decision is part of a planning process that will see us refocus our resources and allows us to continue to do good ministry in spirituality, education and advocacy for justice," said Diston.

The cost of renovating the centre was a major factor in the decision to close it, Diston said. "The building needs immediate and ongoing significant capital investments. We have done our best over the past 20 years but we can no longer sustain these costs," she said.

Sitting on six acres of land overlooking Niagara Falls, the oldest part of the building dates back to 1870. Loretto Centre, on Stanley Ave., offered a place of solitude and tranquility in the midst of today's hectic world.

Vatican Reasserts Itself With Muslims on Terrorism
[Source: The Washington Post, August 27, 2005]

In his historic 2001 visit to Syria, John Paul II became the first pope to visit a mosque, where he stressed the common heritage of Christianity and Islam and highlighted the prominence of the Virgin Mary in the Koran. He also noted a certain "misuse [of] religion itself to promote or justify hatred and violence" but left it undefined.

But when John Paul's successor, Pope Benedict XVI, met with Muslim leaders in Cologne, Germany, last Saturday, he stuck to one issue and gave it a name--terrorism.

With a challenge to Muslim leaders to reject and condemn "any connection between your faith and terrorism," Benedict has subtly redefined Vatican relations with Islam, departing from the conciliatory overtures of his predecessor to forge an approach that presses for reform.

The shift, observers say, reflects a growing desire among Vatican officials for the Catholic Church to reassert itself after two decades of dovish dialogue under John Paul II.

Support for inter-religious dialogue remains strong, but the growth of European Islam and a declining Christian presence in predominantly Muslim countries--coupled with the spread of Islamic terrorism--has prompted a new Catholic consensus that conditions must be placed on future contact.

"We have to be very blunt and not hide behind formulas," said the Rev. Justo Lacuna Balda, president of the Pontifical Institute for Islamic and Arab Studies, a Vatican think tank. Benedict "has indirectly said, 'You've got people in your midst who are saying let's fight against the West and let's fight against Christians and Jews. Well, wait a minute. Where do they get this from? Who teaches them this?' "

Although Benedict stopped short of directly linking terrorism with Islam, the pope for the first time called on Islamic leaders to reject interpretations of Islam that inspire terrorism.

"Words are highly influential in the education of the mind. You therefore have a great responsibility for the formation of the younger generation," the pope said. "There is no room for apathy and disengagement, and even less for partiality and sectarianism."

The address prompted Corriere della Sera, Italy's largest newspaper, to proclaim in an editorial, "Finally there's a pope that condemns Islamic terrorism in front of a Muslim delegation without if's, and's or but's."

Under John Paul, dialogue with Islam focused on the faiths' common historical roots and mutual emphasis on sexual morality. Divisive topics such as terrorism or discrimination against Christians were sidelined.

When condemning terrorism, the late pope usually minimized religious references and always excluded any direct mention of Islam. Many say this policy was driven by concerns that tough talk from the Vatican might signal a "clash of civilizations."

"The objective was to ward off a greatly feared clash by coming together," said Sandro Magister, a veteran Vatican analyst for Italy's L'espresso magazine. Magister described John Paul's outreach as an indiscriminate "tendency to hug" Muslim leadership.

As recently as 2004, high-level Vatican officials attended talks in Qatar that included Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, founder of the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), and other radical clerics. In recent years the ECFR, a religious authority for European Muslims, has issued fatwas supporting suicide attacks in Israel and corporal mutilation in Iraq.

"In Cologne, Benedict XVI demonstrated a different vision, discriminating between positive dialogue and dialogue that is unacceptable," Magister said.

Balda said discussions with controversial leaders will have to be discreet. "The high-level meetings behind closed doors will continue, but we cannot give a platform to people who create animosity and division."

Muslims who met with the pope in Cologne were drawn from groups representing moderate Islam. Some praised his focus on terrorism, while others called for the dialogue to be extended to issues ranging from poverty and globalization to whether Turkey should be admitted to the European Union.

As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict expressed opposition to Turkey's bid in a 2004 magazine interview on the grounds that the country's Islamic identity clashed with Europe's Christian roots.

Many inside the Vatican see Turkey's push for EU membership as symptomatic of a lack of "reciprocity" between Islam and Christianity. Turkey fails to guarantee the rights of religious minorities, Balda said, limiting the possibility for Christian minorities to flourish there. At the same time, Turkey's entrance into the EU would establish a European beachhead for Islam, altering the EU's religious demographics.

"You cannot expect that on this side of the border you as a Muslim will have the right to practice your religion and I as a Buddhist or as a Christian will not have exactly the same welcoming on your side," Balda said. "This is a vital question that needs to be brought to the forefront of inter-religious dialogue."

In Cologne, Benedict appeared to underline this disparity when he called for more religious tolerance.

"We must seek paths of reconciliation and learn to live with respect for each other's identity," he said. "The defense of religious freedom, in this sense, is a permanent imperative and respect for minorities is a clear sign of true civilization."

As a cardinal, however, Ratzinger expressed doubts as to whether such reconciliation is possible. "Islam has a total organization of life that is completely different from ours," he said in a 1997 interview.

"There is a very marked subordination of woman to man; there is a very tightly knit criminal law, indeed, a law regulating all areas of life, that is opposed to our modern ideas about society."

One From the Heart: Gorecki in His Homeland
[Source: The Independent (London), August 23, 2005]

In the early 1990s, few would have predicted that a message scratched on a Gestapo cell wall, a mother's lament for her dead son and a medieval prayer to the Virgin Mary would inspire one of the most moving and memorable musical experiences of the 20th century. Or that a symphony by a little- known Polish avant-garde composer would entrance and enthral a generation of listeners. But, in 1993, Nonesuch Records issued a stunning recording, by the American soprano Dawn Upshaw with the London Sinfonietta, of Henryk Gorecki's Third Symphony, Symfonia Piesni Zalosnych [the 'Symphony of Sorrowful Songs'] and, almost overnight, Gorecki became a household name.

Here was something diametrically at odds with most people's idea of 'contemporary' music. It was a work that made its statement directly, with the simplest of gestures, a piece whose outpouring of pain and grief seemed to speak to a modern generation, a symphony imbued with an extraordinary spiritual quality.

The disc enjoyed staggering success, selling more than 300,000 copies. Other record companies, such as Naxos, followed, and today there are about a dozen versions in the catalogue. Lionised by Classic FM, the anguished second movement soon became one of the most popular pieces of classical music ever " even breaking into the non-classical charts. Some dubbed it 'spiritual minimalism', and likened the work to Sir John Tavener's "The Protecting Veil," or to the beguilingly patterned music of Arvo Peert " although an even closer spiritual parallel might be Steve Reich's Holocaust elegy, Different Trains.

In fact, Gorecki composed his Third Symphony in 1976, almost two decades before he became known in the West. For him, it marked a turning-away from the aggressive modernism of works such as Collisions and Genesis, which embraced uncompromising dissonance almost for its own sake. Rather, it opened the door to pieces such as Beatus Vir (1979) and Totus tuus (1989), sacred choral works whose rich, warm sonorities have earned them a large and unexpected popular following.

One listener swept away by the 'Symphony of Sorrowful Songs' on a first hearing was Nicholas Kenyon, controller of the BBC Proms, where it will be performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under David Atherton tomorrow. 'I really felt from the start that this was a masterpiece,' Kenyon enthuses. 'It had complete integrity and utter originality. It didn't sound in any way derivative; it hit a vital nerve and seemed to make a completely personal statement. Gorecki uses extremely small means to create a very big musical effect. The way he deploys such simple material is very daring; yet the work's cumulative impact " it runs for almost an hour " is shattering and overpowering.

'It will make an interesting comparison with another work we included in this summer's Proms, Tippett's "The Vision of St Augustine," a work of amazing complexity, almost from the opposite end of the musical spectrum, yet one that touches on much the same issues of transcendence and eternity. I hope the Gorecki will benefit from the intimate atmosphere of our late-night Proms. It will be fascinating to see whether the work still retains its original power to move an audience deeply.'

Yet why should a symphony with such patently simple chords and endless repetitions " the arch-like first movement, launched by dark, mysterious double basses, runs to more than 25 minutes " have such a searing effect? For many, the hypnotic ebb and flow of the music alone explains its hushed, imprecatory quality, which owes something to Gorecki's predecessor, Szymanowski. But for others, the profoundly moving, lulling words intoned by the soprano are crucial to the work's charged emotional intensity and universal appeal.

In the first movement, Christ's mother, Mary, addresses her dying son from the foot of the Cross; in the third, based on a folksong from Poland's Opole region, a mother weeps for her son whom she believes has perished in a conflict; while the piercingly sad central movement is based on a prayer incised on her prison cell wall in Zakopane in 1944 by 18-year-old Wanda Blazusiakowna, invoking the Virgin Mary and asking her mother not to weep for her.

David Atherton conducted the symphony's first UK performance in 1987, several years before it became fashionable. Atherton got to know the composer well, and has tirelessly promoted the symphony all over the world. 'I first heard it in the early 1980s, long before Gorecki was well known in the West. Previously I had thought of him as the wild man of Polish music, writing incredibly dissonant and radical music. But I was immediately struck by its sheer honesty.  It has a direct appeal and is written straight from the heart, with a means of expression both simple and profound. It pre-empted minimalism and was years ahead of its time.

'Sustaining an incredible intensity over such a long time-span is a phenomenal test of stamina and commitment for all the performers " it's one of the most individually grueling, yet satisfying, works in the contemporary repertoire.'

At the late-night Proms performance, the soprano soloist will be Susan Bullock, who makes her Royal Opera House debut in Wozzeck next season. The words of the symphony, she suggests, are not just intensely dramatic, but have a clear resonance for us today: 'The first song is full of dark resignation; the second is strangely tranquil despite adversity; and the last feels almost conversational: 'Why did you kill my son?' the mother asks; 'Why shall I never see him again?' The mother's grief seems every bit as relevant now, in an age when we are confronted with suicide bombings and the pointless murder of young people in our inner cities, as at any time.

'There's an almost mesmeric quality to the music that really brings home the tragedy of the words. Other composers might have set the same texts in a kind of hysterical, emotional way; but these are so quietly effective, almost as if uttered in shock " reflecting the terrible numbness that comes when you realise someone you love has been taken from you for ever.'

Gorecki's Third Symphony is performed at the Royal Albert Hall, London SW7 tomorrow at 10pm (020-7589 8212;

Local Artist Sees Mary on Billboard
[Source: The Times-Picayune (New Orleans), August 22, 2005]

Most people glancing up at the billboard above the barrooms in the 5100 block of Canal Boulevard see a colorful rendering of a New Orleans landmark: Jacob Schoen & Son Funeral Home in the 3800 block of Canal Street. But local artist and renovator Mark Kleindorf sees more. Much more. He sees the Virgin Mary, aglow in a funeral home archway.

"It just kind of hit me--like what's this?" Kleindorf said, recalling the moment he first spotted the Madonna image while slapping a fresh coat of green paint on a nearby herb shop.

The billboard and the herb shop sit at the bustling intersection of Canal Boulevard, Canal Street and City Park Avenue. The wall Kleindorf was painting runs along the edge of Odd Fellows Rest Cemetery, one of several burial grounds at the spot that once marked the city limits.

Kleindorf was peering over vaults of yellow fever victims when he noticed a white blotch on the left side of the sign, part of the original funeral home photograph that could be described as sunlight, appeared to him as the profile of Mary, standing in the archway with her back to the ticking clock on the right side of the sign.

Seen as the Blessed Mother, the solitary figure seems perfectly proportioned. She is clothed in a white gown and veil and is facing west, toward the white tombs of Greenwood Cemetery across Canal Boulevard.

Kleindorf, 40, said the veiled image "got more defined" as he drove his pickup truck past the billboard on his way home.

The Bucktown resident doesn't compare his vision to the likes of Mary's reported appearance in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, which has drawn tens of thousands of New Orleanians there to pray since the 1980s. He said his discovery is a source of comfort and hope, and he wants "to share the news" with his community.

"We're hearing about a lady seeing her (Mary) under a bridge where the water was leaking through the cracks, and about Mary's face on a grilled cheese sandwich, and here, right here, we have our own Lakeview/Mid-City Mary," Kleindorf said.

In recent months, believers have flocked to a stretch of the Kennedy Expressway in Chicago to stare at an image of Mary--her hands in prayer--on an underpass wall, stained with water and road salt.

Last year, a Florida woman made headlines when a casino paid her $28,000 for a decade-old grilled cheese sandwich bearing Mary's face in the scorched bread.

'Simply a speculation'

Mary's image on a sandwich and sightings such as Kleindorf's should not be taken seriously, said Archdiocese of New Orleans spokesman the Rev. William Maestri.

"This would not even remotely qualify as an apparition," Maestri said of the image that reminds Kleindorf of Mary. "There is no appearance by the Blessed Mother communicating a message, a teaching or a request to anyone. This is simply a speculation based on an imaginative interpretation of what something appears to be."

Kleindorf, who refers to himself as a "cajew" because he was raised by a Jewish father and Catholic mother, said he is not the first member of his family to have a vision of Mary. Years ago, his uncle, Broadway and local actor Jay Kleindorf, shared with his nephew his story of a vision.

"When he was in World War II, he was driving in the back of a flatbed truck with a bunch of his Army buddies, and he looked up in the trees and he saw the Blessed Mother waving, pulling him towards her like, 'Come to me. Come to me,' " Kleindorf said. "So, he shouted to his guys, 'Jump,' and when they jumped, that's when the mortar hit the truck and blew up everybody else in it ... When he got older, he told me the story the same way over and over, didn't miss a beat."

'This is spooky'

Kleindorf said he was thinking about his now deceased uncle on the day he spotted Mary on the billboard because his uncle's last theater performance was in a play called "Odd Fellows Rest," which is where he was standing. He kept the sighting to himself for a year because he thought people would think he was crazy.

"Then I showed my mother, and I showed a couple of friends that happened to be in the neighborhood, and they were all like, 'Wow. This is spooky,' " Kleindorf said.

The image of Mary in the funeral home archway is there for anyone who chooses to see it, Kleindorf said.

"At that particular moment when that picture was taken, the light was shining at the right angle for something," he said. "You can use a little imagination, but you don't need much. It's there if you want to believe, I guess."

When asked if the funeral home had received any calls about the billboard, which has been up for several years, Garic Schoen, 84, answered abruptly before any mention of Mary's image. "Who's it supposed to be, the Blessed Mother?" Schoen said. "We never had any calls. If you hear any more about it, let us know."

Painting Assumes Its Original Glory
[Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune, August 20, 2005]

A historic painting is back home at Mission San Luis Rey after a six-month, $20,000 face-lift, the colors restored to the vibrancy with which the artist applied them nearly 130 years ago.

"Overwhelming," is how Bradford Claybourn, curator of the mission museum, described the work performed by conservators at the Balboa Art Conservation Center in San Diego's Balboa Park.

Painted in 1876 by Leon Trousset, "Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary" was removed from the church in January, along with another Trousset painting, "Resurrection of Christ."

The Roman Catholic church at the mission, founded in 1798, is the 18th of California's 21 mission churches and a state historic landmark.

The colors on both paintings had grown murky over the years as their varnish overcoats deteriorated, and the "Assumption" suffered additionally as the canvas sagged in places in its frame.

"Cosmetically it looked very bad," said Betsy Court, chief conservator of paintings at the art conservation center.

She described the overlay as "dark orangey-brown," and the team of four conservators used a number of organic solvents to remove it, one small patch at a time. Then they "infilled" or carefully replaced areas of missing paint.

"Now the real colors show," Court said, and they are protected by a new layer of stable varnish that will not discolor.

Before conservators could even begin restoring the painting they had to remove it from its frame, peel away the original cloth backing, stretch the canvas, straighten the edges and fix numerous small tears.

About $14,000 of the $20,380 cost of the restoration was raised by the El Camino Real Chapter of Questers, and the rest came from a $10,000 conservation grant from the county Board of Supervisors, Claybourn said.

Questers is a national organization dedicated to preserving artifacts and places of historical interest, according to Virginia Brophy of Oceanside, the local chapter's president.

Its members visited the art conservation center on March 24, when the restoration was about half-done.

"They had cleaned a lot of the bad varnish and it was pretty amazing how much more vibrant the colors were," Brophy said.

The Questers will get to see the finished result at a reception Tuesday, and patrons at the Aug. 27 Heritage Ball, an annual fundraiser for the mission, will also get a look. But the public won't see the painting until at least next month, Claybourn said.

The "Assumption" is hanging temporarily in an off-exhibit area of the mission museum complex, along with the "Resurrection," which is awaiting restoration.

"We just received a new estimate for the cost of restoring the second painting, and our chapter will consider it at our next meeting in September," Brophy said Thursday.

She said that to return the "Resurrection" to its original condition would cost $9,000 to $10,000 for repairing and stretching the canvas, and $10,500 and $12,300 for "the aesthetics."

There are no immediate plans to return either painting to the church. They once hung facing each other on opposite walls halfway between the altar and the front doors.

Not much is known about Trousset, who lived from about 1835 to about 1936, according to Tracy Trousset of Hemet, the unofficial family historian. One of the artist's works was purchased by a New Mexico museum for $35,000, she said.

Claybourn would not put a price on either of the mission's Trousset paintings.

"You assume it is hypothetically worth at least what it cost to conserve it, but it isn't something you would put to the test," he said of the "Assumption."

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