Image of Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus on a Boston hospital window
Is Our Lady's miraculous image about abortion?
Milton hospital is not a Catholic hospital, it also does not approve of or perform abortions. It is about to merge with another hospital Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center would not confirm that the hospital offers the procedure that may perform abortions so the article states.
The Image appears on a eye doctors office window. Our Lord and Lady want us to see!
Note: current updates are added at bottom of page
Thursday, June 12, 2003 Reported in the [Boston Herald.com] written by Jennifer Rosinski. Some see the Madonna in a window, whether it's a vision sent down from God or condensation collected between two window panes, an image of what believers call the Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus has drawn droves to Milton Hospital since Tuesday.
The picture on a medical building second-floor window first drew attention from workers and patients Tuesday morning, said a hospital official who claims condensation has discolored the glass for years. Others are not so scientific.
"It's bizarre. We're not crazy; we're nurses," cardiac nurse Sarah Johnson told The Patriot Ledger."I said a Hail Mary when I saw it. I was like, "Oh, My God!" Yesterday, a parking lot next to the medical building filled with a group of nuns and parents who brought their children, all of them snapping pictures. And motorists circled the lot while craning their necks.
Parishioners and staff at St. Elizabeth's Church have been buzzing about the image for the past two days, said the Rev. Gilbert Phinn, who stopped by yesterday to check it out himself. "It's a rather remarkable thing. I don't know how it happened," he said."All I can say is anything that inspires devotion is a good thing and that's certainly what this is doing."
Friday, June 13, 2003 Reported in the [The Patriot Ledger]. Devout pray at image; Many see Mary, baby in window. Written by Don Conkey. Pilgrimage to local hospital: Milton - Some people wouldn't drive half a mile to see what might be nothing more than condensation on a window. But, Laurene Viglione thought it was important enough to drive for an hour, and then stay for an hour more once she got here.
I came specifically to see the image on the glass. I have a great devotion to Our Lady, to the Blessed Mother,'' said Viglione, who came to Milton with her husband Donald yesterday afternoon from their home in Newburyport. The object of their attention was the window at Milton Hospital that some say contains an image of the Virgin Mary with a child.
Hospital staff first saw the image on the third-floor window of a medical office late Tuesday morning. A white, frosty substance on the window outlines a shadowy image that looks like a figure standing with a baby in its arms.
The Vigliones were among many people to gaze at the window yesterday from the parking lot behind the hospital's medical office building. Laurene Viglione said her hour there was time well spent. I prayed with special rosary beads. They were my deceased mother's, and they have special significance to me,'' Viglione said today. I bought the beads for my mother when I was a little child, about 10 or 11 years old, back in the 1950s,'' she said. Yesterday, as she prayed, she thought of her mother.
And she never once thought that the image in the window was anything other than the image she had come to see.To me, it was the image of the Blessed Mother holding the baby child. Our Lady has appeared many times before in the world, so it is not surprising to me that she would appear again.
There is a reason for the image on the window: it's because of the evils that are in the world today," Viglione said.
Tuesday, June 17, 2003 Hospital said to seek help on Virgin image. Reported in the [Boston Globe.com] written by Douglas Belkin. Milton - Overrun with worshipers praying before a likeness of the Virgin Mary in a third-story window, Milton Hospital officials have asked the Archdiocese of Boston to caution people against placing faith in the image, a church official confirmed yesterday.
Word of the likeness, which hospital officials say is made by a chemical deposit inside a sealed window, began to spread last week. Over the weekend, more than 25,000 people crowded onto the grounds to see it, officials said. Richard P. Ward, the hospital's chairman and a senior partner at the law firm of Ropes & Gray, denied asking the church to deflate interest in the window siting.
''We can't take a position on the apparition,'' Ward said. ''Obviously, there has been a significant outpouring of sincere religious belief, and I want to be sure the hospital doesn't do anything sacrilegious or is in any way disrespectful to the Virgin Mary.''A church official said the hospital has asked the archdiocese for help in cautioning people against placing faith in the image. In the past, church leaders have been reluctant to comment one way or the other on such phenomena.
In a statement released to the news media yesterday, the hospital asked people to limit their visiting hours to between 5:30 and 8:30 in the evening. But hospital officials said that solution is temporary and they are waiting for the diocese's counsel before taking further steps. In a separate statement, Ward wrote, ''The Hospital has no official position with respect to the issue of an apparition and is seeking assistance from the Chancery on a resolution of that question.''
Yesterday afternoon, the parking lot was again crowded with visitors who had come from as far away as Rhode Island to look at the milky-white shape. Milton police said they had made no arrests or even received any complaints about the crowds.
Rather, a hospital spokeswoman said, the problem was one of sheer volume. Parking for staff and visitors, already tight, has been diminished as an entire lot has been roped off for visitors to stand in. Janitors haven't been able to keep the bathrooms clean and stocked and the grounds free of trash. One nurse said she had become so annoyed by the crowds that she wanted to throw a rock through the window.
But the mood yesterday, even with hundreds of people filtering through, was quietly reverential. Several women stood beneath the window fingering rosaries; one of the women had tears rolling down her face. A dozen bouquets of flowers were left at the wall -- next to a hospital sign that said all objects would be removed at night.
Among the half dozen letters was a sonogram of a fetus with the mother's note asking the ''Blessed Mother to please be with me at the delivery room . . . and to help me, protect me and guide me and every member of my family.''
While the authenticity of the apparition was questioned by more than one member of the hospital staff, few -- if any of the visitors -- doubted that she was there to deliver a message. The interpretation of that message, however, varied widely.
Among the theories was that Mary had come to warn Milton Hospital not to join with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. In February, the two announced they had formed a clinical affiliation. Milton Hospital does not perform abortions. A spokeswoman for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center would not confirm that the hospital offers the procedure.
Around the corner from the likeness of Mary was another chemical spot on another third-story window. A crowd gathered there as well. Many said the image was of a fetus or an embryo. Walter V. Robinson of the Globe staff contributed to this article.
Wednesday, June 18, 2003 Church ponders probe of Milton miracle. Reported in the [Boston Herald.com] written by Eric Convey and Marie Szaniszlo. The pastor of the parish that includes the hospital window some Catholics believe bears an image of the Virgin Mary refused yesterday to say whether he'd seek an official church investigation.
"I'd rather not comment," said the Rev. Gilbert Phinn, pastor of St. Elizabeth parish in Milton.
Under Catholic church rules, the local pastor usually initiates a probe into a possible miracle. Phinn has not done so in the case of the hospital window, which drew an esimated 20,000 visitors last weekend, said the Rev. Christopher Coyne, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston.
Coyne said church officials have not ruled on the validity of the image, but they are consulting with other dioceses that have dealt with similar situations. "If it leads to a deepening of faith . . . it's a good thing," he said. "If it leads to superstition or despair or hurt, then it would be problematic."
Wednesday, June 18, 2003 Miracle at Milton. Alleged Apparition of Virgin Mary Draws Crowds at Mass. Hospital. Reported in the [Associated Press]. Written by Jennifer Peter - Milton, Mass. Five years have passed, at least, since the seal broke in the third-floor window at Milton Hospital, turning the glass a blotchy white. But only last week did the murky patches begin taking on a form that without much imagination looks very much like a robed Madonna, with bowed head. And is that a craggy rock she's standing on?
"It seems like every day it gets clearer," said Sharon McGarty, of Braintree, an office administrator for a doctor who works across the hall from eye examination room where the image appeared. "It used to look like just a dirty window. Why did the vision all of a sudden pop out to people?"
Word of the vision has spread through media and word-of-mouth, drawing more than 25,000 believers to the hospital's nondescript brick wall and turning it into an impromptu religious shrine. Dozens of bouquets have been placed beneath it. One hospital worker saw a mother bring her son, who uses a wheelchair, to touch the wall with his legs.
"The message I think that she is trying to relay is that we need to pray for peace, for a stop to abortion, for a conversion of sinners," said John Pires, 59, of Flagler Beach, Fla., who said the rosary with his wife in the parking lot below the window today. "Whether or not it's a true apparition, it's a sign to us."
And Pires is kind of an expert on these kinds of things. He and his wife, Diane, also saw [the image of the Virgin Mary] in the window of an insurance company in Clearwater, Fla. "That one was in color," Diane Pires said.
A Safety Issue - Officials at the hospital about 10 miles south of Boston have sought advice from the Archdiocese of Boston about the phenomenon, and issued a statement this week, asking visitors to view the image only between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
"The Hospital respects fully the religious beliefs of the many viewers and is seeking advice from the Chancery on what appropriate steps to take," the hospital's statement read. "In the meantime, a substantial safety issue has arisen that jeopardizes the ability of the hospital to do its charitable work."
The hospital's parking lot looks like a mall's on Christmas Eve, with cars circling the aisles looking for spaces. Private security guards have been installed at the entrance to direct traffic.
A Basic Explanation - Hospital officials and experts on the phenomenon have said the seemingly miraculous image is simply the product of a spreading chemical deposit trapped within the window pane.
"The phenomenon is basically the human ability to see pictures out of randomness. There are trillions of these and they just wait for someone to notice them," said Joe Nickell, a senior research fellow at the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. "This one's pretty good, as things go, but there's nothing miraculous about it. It's almost anti-miraculous, because its cause is so mundane."
Try telling that to Isabel Beaulieu, of Mansfield, who brought her nephew to see the image on Sunday, two days before he underwent surgery to replace a piece of his skull.
"We were told it would last four to six hours, but it only last one and a half," said Beaulieu, who visited the hospital wall again today. "I think it worked."
Even medical practitioners are beginning to believe that the image in the window is more than a bit of condensation."There's no doubt in my mind," said Marie Passi, a medical assistant to a cardiologist at the hospital.And why this particular window at this particular hospital? Alexandra Zahak, for one, has a theory.
"An eye doctor works in that office," said Zahak, of West Newton, who plans to visit the hospital every day. "She's trying to tell us to open up our eyes."
Thursday, June 19, 2003 Pilgrims rush forces Virgin Mary cover-up. Reported in [Reuters.com] Faced with a rush of pilgrims, a Massachusetts hospital says it will cover a shimmering image of the Virgin Mary in the window of an office building for most of the day to avoid further disruption. On Wednesday evening hospital staffers lowered a weighted tarp from the roof over the window where believers say the mother of Jesus Christ gazes down on them. The image was first seen last week.
"We asked people to visit the window only between 5:30 and 8:30 in the evening so that the crowds won't interfere with hospital activities. But that wasn't working and so we made the decision to uncover the window only during those hours," said Susan Schepici, a spokeswoman at Milton Hospital. Still people are flocking to the community hospital at all hours, Schepici said, counting about 30 people staring at the covered window this morning.
doesn't seem to matter if it is covered or not. We have had a steady stream of
between 50 and 100 people during the last few days and the crowd grows to about
200 at night. People bring flashlights to see the image," she said.
mid-afternoon a tarp hung over the window covering, what many say, was the image
of the Virgin Mary.
Milton Hospital has been inundated with visitors to view the window. An estimated 25,000 people jammed the parking lot over the weekend and hospital official tried posting signs restricting viewing hours to 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., but still people came throughout the day to see the miracle. So on Thursday, they began covering the window during non-viewing times.
"I'm very disappointed. I should be able to see it. It is a gift from God -- the vision of the Virgin Mary. It is very frustrating," said a visitor.
As the 5:30 p.m. viewing time approached, the crowds began to gather to see the miracle image. "I bring my kids here -- hopefully it will bring some inner peace to them and to me ," said another visitor. "The lord is trying to give us all a message, to mankind, to repent and change our ways," another visitor said.
Many of the people who were here throughout the afternoon said they were disappointed that the window was covered. But clearly, given the crowds that continue to flock to the parking lot, the hospital had to do something to moderate the crowds and the people who need to come in and out of the hospital during the day.
Saturday, June 21, 2003 Seeing is believing. Reported in [Globe.com] Written by Joseph P. Kahn. When images of the Virgin Mary appear, the faithful flock to them. Where some see mineral deposits, others see divinity. Where some simply see a clouded pane of glass, others are awed by a likeness of the Virgin Mary, gazing down upon a narrow patch of lawn that has sprouted fresh-cut flowers and votive candles this week as thousands of devout Catholics gathered outside Milton Hospital to pray.
And where many now stare at a blue tarpaulin flapping in the breeze that obscures their view of the window, some also see red. Their frustration is another indication of how high passions have been stirred by this event, which many regard as a genuine miracle - a sign from on high that all is not right with the world, if not with the church itself.
"It's a shame. They shouldn't cover her like that," said Alice Phinney of Brockton on Thursday, looking up at the hospital window and frowning at the obstructed view. "I just love her so much."As for any specific message being imparted to those who come to the site, Phinney squinted in the sunshine and considered the question. "To bring the world together, I guess," she said.
Her friend Charles Regas, who accompanied Phinney from Brockton, nodded. He saw something similar 50 years ago in Greece, where he was born. "I'll never forget it," he said. Regas said he'd heard the Milton apparition had been triggered by the prayers of a hospital patient facing a difficult operation. Others have offered differing explanations for the "miracle," and its timing, ranging from the problems besetting the Boston Archdiocese to the merger of Milton Hospital with a hospital that may perform abortions.
Whatever interpretation is levied upon it, the image that mysteriously surfaced on a third-floor window has drawn huge crowds, prompting hospital officials to institute safety measures. A sign now states that the tarp will only be removed from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. daily to address ''substantial access and safety issues.''
Not even a plastic sheet can dissuade the faithful, though. With each breeze, the tarp lifts just enough to provide a tantalizing glimpse of what everyone has come to see. ''Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus!'' one man cried Thursday as the window came into full view.
Whether aware of it or not, those descending upon Milton are part of a storied history of Marian visions and visitations, dating back to 40 AD. Most famously in recent history have been reported visitations in Fatima, Portugal 1917, and Lourdes, France 1858, both of which have been authenticated by the Catholic Church. Another significant visitation occurred in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in 1981. It has lured an estimated 17 million pilgrims but has not yet received the church's official blessing.
More recently, in 1992, a Marlboro Township, N.J., man drew thousands to his home after claiming the Virgin Mary paid visits to him on the first Sunday of each month. During Christmas week in 1996, nearly half a million people flocked to an office building in Clearwater, Fla., where a two-story tall, rainbow-colored image of the Virgin Mary materialized. Other incidents involving natural tree formations occurred in Hartford, Conn., and Coloma, Calif. In Conyers, Ga., thousands of pilgrims gathered at the farm of Nancy Fowler, a retired nurse, to hear what they believed was a channeled message from the Virgin Mary. An image not unlike the one in Milton was sighted in a Perth Amboy, N.J., apartment building three years ago, with similar results.
The Boston Archdiocese "has spoken cautiously" about this latest event, notes Boston College theology professor Raymond Helmick, SJ. And properly so, he says, since condensation on a window, however moving, falls somewhat short of a verifiable miracle - at least so far.
Church leaders "don't want to pour cold water on it," says Helmeck, "but in general the church deals rather skeptically with these things. They don't want people to be deceived. Then again, anything that adds to people's devotion is seen as a good thing."
To University of Kansas professor Sandra Zimdars-Swartz, author of "Encountering Mary: Visions of Mary From La Salette to Medjugorje," a historical analysis of Marian visitations, the interesting questions behind such phenomena are: Who first saw the image? And for what personal reasons did he or she conclude it was spiritually significant?
"I don't even go into the question of whether it's actually the Virgin Mary who's appearing," says Zimdars-Swartz, who hears of one or two such events per year. "The real question is, why? It's like a Rorschach test. Someone sees a pattern of light and dark. I start by assuming that the person looking at it has a reason for seeing it as a meaningful."
Without having been to Milton, she guesses the reasons people attach deep meaning to the current sighting include feelings of uncertainty and turmoil: concerns about the economy, the war in Iraq, and what they sense is a fraying of the country's moral fabric.
"When people get together like this, they reinforce their beliefs - and at the same time practice their defenses against skeptics," Zimdars-Swartz continues. In class, she says, she shows students images like the Clearwater one, but without accompanying clues. Usually the students see nothing special, Zimdars-Swartz says. Next she'll show a slide of, say, flowers laid at the site, and the students suddenly see what fascinates everyone else.
"Bottom line is, people come to these sites with a perceptual filter," she says. David Frankfurter, a professor of relgious studies at the University of New Hampshire, notes that while skeptics may dismiss them as being delusional, such phenomena are more popular than most people think.
"In America, the interpretations typically espouse extremely conservative messages," Frankfurter says." The world is going to hell, and so is the church,' that sort of thing."
Adds Frankfurter, " Nobody worries too much that it's chemicals causing the image in the window. It has a deeper meaning to them, and that's enough."
At the Milton hospital grounds, the wall below the window is lined with dozens of floral arrangements and other objects: photos of deceased loved ones, a letter from a US Marine officer stationed in Iraq, bottles of holy water and prescription pill vials, a plastic collection box containing scores of dollar bills. Visitors place their hands on the brick wall and bow in prayer. Others finger rosary beads and stare in silence. French and Portuguese are heard here almost as frequently as English.
For Lori Benedetto of New Hope, Pa., it is even more than that. "A once-in-a-lifetime experience," she called it Thursday while visiting the site with her four young children. As the tarp flapped, she snapped pictures and said the image "showed people there's more than war going on, that there's also something good in this world."
Did she think mineral deposits explained what she was looking at, or was it something more? ''I've seen condensation on windows and mineral deposits before, and they don't take that form,'' said Benedetto, shaking her head. Asked how long was she planning to stay, she smiled: "Until my kids give out ."
Milton Hospital 92 Highland Street Milton, Massachusetts 02186.