Unusual Image of Virgin on hospital may link in certain way to another in Florida




Monday June 23, 2002 - Reported in [Spirit Daily.com] online newspaper. Written by Michael H. Brown. An image resembling the Blessed Mother that has appeared at a hospital in Milton, Massachusetts (left), about ten miles from Boston, matches up in certain striking ways with an image that has manifested since 1996 on an office building at a busy intersection in Clearwater, Florida (right).

Both images share a similar veil, a similar head form, and are turned in the same position. Both have what could be seen as representations of a rumpled or ruffled robe under the neck. And both may be carrying Child: the Clearwater image resembles the famed manifestation at Guadalupe, Mexico -- in which the Virgin is pregnant -- and the image in Massachusetts, which has been in the news for more than a week now, is holding what appears to be a baby.

Interestingly, the Milton image, formed by "condensation" in a third-floor office window, has certain aspects familiar to those who have seen sonograms or ultrasounds -- which are used to examine infants while they are still in the womb (even though the Milton image does not portray the baby in that part of the Blessed Mother's profile, but rather as born). Many believe the image has manifested because Milton Hospital, which doesn't permit abortions, is about the merge with another that does.

In fact there are those who say that condensation on another window at the hospital resembles an unborn child. Others contend that the Milton manifestation was triggered by the prayers of a hospital patient facing a difficult operation -- or that it has manifested as a sign of encouragement to the scandal-beleaguered Boston archdiocese (where Cardinal Bernard Law had to resign less than a year ago). "The second window is amazing and it is a message about abortion as the appearance there is fetus in the womb," wrote a nun who went to see it a week ago. "What struck me is that it is so similar to the one I saw in the moon during my first trip to Medjugorje [in Bosnia-Hercegovina]. My sister could also make the connection."

Most prominent among the theories remains the notion that Mary has come to warn Milton Hospital not to join with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, according to reports. In February, the two announced they had formed a clinical affiliation. A spokeswoman for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center would not confirm that the hospital offers abortion, but there is at least one printed report of medical students observing such procedures there as part of their training. "Five years have passed, at least, since the seal broke in the third-floor window at Milton Hospital, turning the glass a blotchy white," reported in the Associated Press. "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."

Naturally, we hold final discernment on such matters until they are fully investigated, but even secular reporters have been impressed by the unique resemblance to Mary, as she is portrayed looking to her right, in most cases meaning the Sorrowful Virgin. Ironic it is that both extremes of the East -- Massachusetts and Florida, which are 1,200 miles apart -- are now joined by unusual and highly public images. Some think the Madonna is standing on a craggy rock. Does it too relate to Guadalupe -- where she was on a hillside? Or the stony, barren hillsides at places like Fatima? We can't quite figure that out. Stay tuned.

June 21, 2003 - A [Boston Globe] Editorial. Miracle in Milton.
Moisture seeps between panes of glass and forms an image in a hospital window. Thousands of people gather in the parking lot below that window to stand in what they believe to be the holy presence of the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus. The phenomenon at Milton Hospital is one in a long line of sightings of Mary and other religious figures dating back hundreds of years. Revered by the faithful and dismissed by skeptics, these visions have been seen on dusty roads in primitive villages as well as on buildings along modern expressways.

Whether they are considered manifestations of wishful thinking, group hypnosis, coincidence, trickery, or divine intervention depends entirely on the eye and heart of the beholder - and most people standing outside Milton Hospital on a rare sunny evening this week looked up with adoring eyes. They prayed, held rosaries, placed flowers and money below the third-floor window, and talked quietly about a feeling of peace or how they thought the image was giving hope to a troubled world. They were black, white, Hispanic, Asian, old, young, healthy, and infirm - some people came in wheelchairs or on crutches, and one woman, attached to an intravenous stand, moved slowly, aided by a friend.

The silver and black image was quite clear, requiring no squinting, standing at a certain angle, or assistance of binoculars. It filled the window of the medical office where eye doctors do their examinations. Susan Schepici, spokeswoman for the hospital, explained that the doctors had bricked up the window on the inside to block the light and this caused the double-paned glass to overheat, trap moisture, and discolor. She said she did not know who first noticed the figure but that crowds began coming last week. More than 25,000 people have viewed the image.

There are no plans to remove the window or to turn people away, although the hospital has limited viewing to the hours between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. The antiseptic world of scientific logic has made room for the illogical by roping off an area for viewing, putting up a sign pointing the way to ''window parking,'' and hiring security personnel to direct traffic. The Archdiocese of Boston is making no heavy pronouncements about what people should or should not see in the hospital window. ''We are being very careful to make sure that whatever we say is helpful to people of good will and good faith,'' said the Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, spokesman for the archdiocese, adding, ''Anything that brings people to a deeper faith in God is a good thing.''

People seeking communion with something greater than themselves have found an unlikely asphalt sanctuary off a busy street in a Boston suburb. To some, this spontaneous pilgrimage might seem easy to dismiss as naive, but it is also a touching reminder that the human spirit can connect with the infinite just about anywhere - even in a parking lot. This story ran on page A14 of the Boston Globe on 6/21/2003.

June 25, 2003 - Crosses could be another miracle -The miracle at Milton Hospital is multiplying.
Reported in the [Boston Herald.com]. Written by Eric Convey. Faithful flocking to venerate a window bearing what many believe is an image of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus now are turning their gaze to what looks like two crosses etched in the soot on the side of a smokestack. "I believe that it definitely is a sign," said Patricia Burke of Quincy, standing yesterday on a once-grassy traffic island worn bare by the crowds that gather daily to view the image. "I think God's telling us something. I don't know what that message is," she said.

The crosses, each about 6 feet high, stand one atop the other on the side of the square stack. Alice Sweeney of Quincy thinks the images of Mary and the crosses are God's way of urging mankind to embrace "peace." Lowell resident Maria Flaris, who made the trek to Milton with her son, said she thinks God sent the images"`to bring peace in the Middle East. I think so and I hope so."

While the Madonna likeness has been widely recognized - even by skeptics who consider the origin to be random chemical activity - the crosses are more obscure. "It's awesome, because I believe in the Blessed Mother and she's been appearing all over the place lately," said Joan Smith of Milton. But her daughter, Karen Smith, was more skeptical as the two stood in a blazing mid-day sun yesterday to examine the smokestack. "The cross - I don't see it at all," she said.

The image of Mary is covered by a blue tarp most of the day for crowd control but the view of the smokestack remains unobstructed. A hospital spokeswoman had no comment on the latest image and said there are no plans to change the schedule for viewing the Madonna and baby Jesus. Officials remove the tarp from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. nightly.

June 29, 2003 - Church skeptical of Milton's Mary. Reported in the [Boston Herald.com]. Written by Max Heuer. The mystique of the Milton Hospital Madonna draws thousands of faithful below her third-floor window each night, but a preliminary church probe likely will show she's no mystery at all, nor is she a miracle. The Rev. Christopher J. Coyne told the Herald that the Boston Archdiocese - led by Bishop Richard Lennon - has been investigating the image of the Virgin Mary that appeared up two weeks ago, and believes a chemical deposit is the culprit. "(Hospital officials) are asking us to move forward," he said. "We're trying to do so as quickly as possible." Under guidelines set in 1978 by Pope John Paul VI, the church must disprove all natural explanations before an event can be ruled "miraculous," Coyne said.

More than 40,000 people have flocked to Milton Hospital to see the spectacle. Church and hospital officials say a chemical reaction, created when moisture from the brickwork leaked inside the double-paned window and mixed with a drying agent, has left the chemical deposit that looks to many like Mary and baby Jesus. Hospital officials have spent more than $10,000 out of an already strapped budget to control the crowds, said spokeswoman Susan Schepici.

Under church rules, the local bishop oversees an investigation by a panel of experts, focusing on whether there is a moral certainty the event was miraculous and the personal qualities of those involved, according to church documents. The Rev. Joseph Koterski, a philospohy professor at Fordham University, said church procedure was to "apply skepticism first." "We don't jump the gun to say that something is miraculous, we tend to presume the opposite," Koterski said.

From Worcester to Los Angeles, claims of religious miracles have attracted droves of followers, but not official validation from the church. A case similar to the Milton episode occurred in 1996, when observers identified an image of the Virgin Mary, or Marian image, on a glass-sided building in Clearwater, Fla. An estimated 580,000 people visited the site and the building eventually was bought by an Ohio-based Christian group. But experts who examined the glass said the image was formed by the corrosion of metallic elements in the glass coating, the St. Petersburg Times reported. The last time the church declared a Marian sighting an official miracle was in 1983 in San Nichols, Argentina, according to the Marian Library at the University of Dayton, Ohio.

Experts say claims of religious miracles might energize some, but rank pretty low on the church's list of priorities.'; [plo"The Catholic Church doesn't put much stock in this," said Joe Nickell, author of "Looking for a Miracle." "Divine images and devotional practices are things that are intended to bring the believer into a deeper faith," Coyne said. "They're not intended to replace the sacramental life of the church." "Where our faith really rests is in Jesus and his resurrection, not in windows in Boston," Koterski said.


[Milton Hospital] 92 Highland Street Milton, Massachusetts 02186.

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