A Virgin Mary tree trunk has appeared in a crime-riddled section of a New Jersey city, drawing crowds of Catholics who see the likeness as a miraculous apparition.
The city, West New York, sits just across the Hudson River from Manhattan and is notorious for its high crime and depressed economy, but this week has been a drawing point for religious sightseers hoping to take a look at the Virgin Mary tree trunk. Dozens of people showed up Tuesday, taking pictures of the trunk and sharing stories about the “miracle,” AFP reported.
The Virgin Mary tree trunk, which appears in a small Ginkgo bilboa tree, hasn’t convinced everyone. There are plenty of scoffers among West New York’s large Latin American immigrant population, who are largely Catholic, and even the Catholic Church has distanced itself from the alleged miracle, AFP reported.
Others have pointed out that the Ginkgo trees are known to have splits in the bark that can resemble human faces.
Valenti pointed out that many of the Ginkgo trees lining the street have splits in the bark and knots that could be imagined to represent some picture or another. One observer stopped a newspaper reporter to show a cell phone picture of a different Gingko tree that had an uncanny resemblance to a human face.
“Tons of these trees have it. It’s normal for them in this climate. It’s a law of physics,” another observer told AFP.
That hasn’t stopped true believers from guarding the tree as they petition the town’s mayor for more permanent protection for it.
“We want to build a monument,” Maria Baez, 35, told AFP. Baez was one of the first to announce she’d seen the Virgin Mary in the tree trunk and now one of those helping guard it day and night. The tree had already gathered piles of rosaries, votive candles, flowers and pictures of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a central figure in Mexican Catholicism.
Police have now joined the protection effort for the Virgin Mary tree trunk, erecting a metal barricade around the tree and stationing a patrol car alongside it. The town is spending close to $1,000 per day to manage the situation, AFP reported.
The differing opinions have spilled over at the scene of the Virgin Mary tree trunk, New York Magazine reported. One man was attacked for telling observers that the tree was “witchcraft” and that they were worshiping devils. He was charged by one man and another 90-something believer hit him with long-stem roses.