Image Of 'Virgin' On Office Building Near Tampa Turned Dark Just Before Terror of 9/11/01
By Michael H. Brown
Left to right, day (8/5/01), during typical dark (2/5/02) and, right, September 5, 2001
The unexplained image of what looks like the Guadalupe Virgin
on the reflective glass of a building outside of Tampa turned dark just before the events of September 11, Spirit Daily has learned.
A visit to the site, located in Clearwater on a major route known as U.S. 19, revealed that the reflection of what many believe is the Blessed Mother turned suddenly dark for the first and only known time on September 5, 2001, according to Emily Lehrter, who helps administer pilgrims who flock to the reputed miracle.
"I thought it was just very strange," says Lehrter. "Mary is usually so brilliant on the fifth of each month, but that day she was so dark. It's the only time I've seen that."
It's on the fifth of each month that special devotions are conducted at the makeshift shrine, which sits on a corner of Route 19 and Drew Avenue not far from a major causeway and Tampa International Airport. The image, a colored "silhouette" spanning twenty feet, is almost exactly proportionate (see below) to the famed image of Guadalupe, the miraculous cloth on which an inexplicable representation of Mary appeared in the 16th century to St. Juan Diego near Mexico City. The Guadalupe image can be neatly superimposed upon photographs of the Clearwater "reflection" in this state where there are so many Spanish-speaking people who have a special devotion to Guadalupe -- another fact that argues for the image's miraculous nature.
The effect appears to be the result of some kind of oxidative or chemical reaction in the glass. There are several other small areas where glass on the building -- once a financial office building -- has turned similar colors, but on a vastly smaller scale. The colors in the image start with a dark blue, then as they move inward turn to lighter blue, yellowish, orange, violet, blue again, turquoise, green, yellow-green, and once more violet. It can also be seen from the inside, albeit in less detail. The face of a suffering Jesus also seems to appear in the lower half of the image in evenings. There is nothing from which the representations can be reflecting, and even some kind of destructive fluid, perhaps acidic, thrown at the image by a vandal has not erased the manifestation, which seemed to correct itself.
Did God use a natural process -- perhaps an interaction with well water used to wash it -- for His own purposes and messages?
The image was first spotted on December 17, 1996, by a woman customer at what was then the Seminole Finance Corporation Building. As one newspaper noted, the image, two floors high, glows and shimmers, turning from green to blue, to red, and there is a distinct outline of a head, a hooded robe and most of a torso. Skeptics claim it's caused by a reflection of the sun's rays bouncing off water left by sprinklers, but that hardly explains how its glow often increases at night. George Pecoraro, a scientist with a glass company, told a newspaper that "we're not able to explain how the shape appeared or why it appeared. It could be an accident or maybe it's Divine intervention." Most mysterious is how the image continues without interruption over the span of nine separate panes of glass. More than 1.5 million have visited here, and the original owner, Mike Krizmanich, allowed them to install what has become a permanent shrine, believing the image is "a gift from God to be protected and shared."
The link to Guadalupe is further interesting because the Guadalupe Madonna is officially recognized as the Virgin of the Americas. It was less than a week after the image turned dark that al Qaeda struck both the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. It is also in a state that is at the very center of America's spiritual war. More on that tomorrow. Meanwhile, the state's governor, Jeb Bush -- whose brother won a miraculous victory in the state -- has visited the Guadalupe shrine in Mexico and the Blessed Mother was invoked in that election debate. "God is telling us it is time to change our ways," noted Sister Christian of the Order of St. Anne in India. "It looks exactly like all the paintings of the Blessed Mother."
Image of Virgin in Clearwater [left], and then in middle and right with image of Guadalupe superimposed to show similarities
Miraculous Image In Florida Appears Destroyed
By Michael H. Brown
Officials at the Shepherds of Christ in Ohio are declining comment on what appears to be the horrid destruction of a famed image of the Blessed Mother that has appeared for eight years on a former office building in Clearwater, Florida. The Shepherds now own and maintain the building as a shrine and center.
Police have been on the scene this morning, although no report has yet been filed. The damage was clearly seen on the group's live on-site webcam and reported to Spirit Daily. Some say that in the broken panes are what now seem like images of Jesus.
The image, a colored "silhouette" spanning twenty feet, was almost exactly proportionate to the famed image of Guadalupe, the miraculous cloth on which an inexplicable representation of Mary appeared in the 16th century to St. Juan Diego near Mexico City. The Guadalupe image can be neatly superimposed upon photographs of the Clearwater "reflection" in this state where there are so many Spanish-speaking people who have a special devotion to Guadalupe -- another fact that argued for the image's miraculous nature.
The effect appeared to be the result of some kind of oxidative or chemical reaction in the glass. The colors in the image started with a dark blue, then as they moved inward turned to lighter blue, yellowish, orange, violet, blue again, turquoise, green, yellow-green, and once more violet. It could also be seen from the inside, albeit in less detail. A previous act of vandalism involved the throwing of some kind of destructive fluid, perhaps acidic, at the image several years ago, but incredibly the image seemed to correct itself.
It was first spotted on December 17, 1996, by a woman customer at what was then the Seminole Finance Corporation Building. As one newspaper noted, the image, two floors high, glowed and shimmered, turning from green to blue, to red, and there was a distinct outline of a head, a hooded robe and most of a torso. Skeptics claimed it was caused by a reflection of the sun's rays bouncing off water left by sprinklers, but that hardly explained how its glow often increased at night -- although [see below] it went dark just before September 11. George Pecoraro, a scientist with a glass company, told a newspaper that "we're not able to explain how the shape appeared or why it appeared. It could be an accident or maybe it's Divine intervention." Most mysterious was how the image continued without interruption over the span of at least nine separate panes of glass. More than 1.5 million have visited and the original owner, Mike Krizmanich, allowed them to install what has become a permanent shrine, believing the image is "a gift from God to be protected and shared."
The link to Guadalupe is further interesting because the Guadalupe Madonna is officially recognized as the Virgin of the Americas. "God is telling us it is time to change our ways," noted Sister Christian of the Order of St. Anne in India. "It looks exactly like all the paintings of the Blessed Mother." The face of Jesus is also apparent.
(From left, image on normal night, image just before September 11, and image in recent photo)
Gibson Movie And Destruction Of Image In Florida: A Sword Is Piercing Many Hearts
By Michael H. Brown
I wonder if the smashing of that image of Mary in Clearwater, Florida, was a prophetic event. I do think those panes of glass went beyond the normal. It may have been the process of oxidation that technically caused the coloration, but the fact that the shape can be perfectly superimposed on the image of Guadalupe and the fact that it flowed without interruption across at least nine separate panes of glass argues forcefully for the miraculous.
And so what are we to make of the fact that it is now smashed -- that a week ago someone with evil inclinations apparently shot at it with a slingshot and caused the glass on that famous office building -- where the contours of Guadalupe have been seen since 1996 -- to come tumbling down?
Let me say first that I am surprised that the Church did not take steps to preserve the image, or at least show a bit more interest. I'm sure the bishop has his reasons, and we respect his discernment. I just don't know what it was. When I first viewed it, I expressed the opinion that it should be kept in a basilica like the one called Queen of the Universe Shrine in Orlando -- even in the basement, if the bishop did not see fit to as yet exhibit it publicly. One can argue that it was meant to stay where it was, but how about a security guard?
It was a simple matter of safekeeping. When apparently miraculous images are in formal church settings they have survived tremendous attacks. We note that not even fires have been able to destroy the Shroud of Turin (kept as it has been behind the altar of a church) and that a terrorist explosion in 1921 at a basilica that housed the Guadalupe image near Mexico City bent over brass candlesticks but caused no harm to the image itself. "So severe was the explosion that it shattered all the stained-glass windows in the basilica and uplifted whole chunks of marble and masonry from the sanctuary," noted one scholar. "A huge bronze crucifix that stood above the altar was twisted as though it were made out of putty. When the smoke lifted, the stunned congregation was amazed to see that no one was hurt, not even the celebrants at the altar. And expecting to see the miraculous Image severely damaged, they looked up to her and, lo and behold, there she was, totally unscathed by the blast, and not even a crack on the protective glass that shielded her!"
The Clearwater image had no such luck -- attained no similar protection. We have to wonder why. Was it in God's plan -- a sign -- to end the way it has? Let us note that the image went dark for the only known time just before September 11. Is its smashing a simple criminal act -- or a similar portent? Is it a coincidence that Terri Schiavo, the severely disabled woman whose parents are fighting to keep her alive, was literally a block away -- a stone's throw -- at the Park Place Assisted Living Facility, 2750 Drew Street, at the time of the vandalism?
Whatever the case, the image and the building on which it formed fell under the control of a well-meaning group called Shepherds of Christ from Ohio and obviously they did not have the wherewithal to protect it. Why was the diocese not more involved? "We haven't been asked to issue a statement, and we haven't done that," says the bishop's spokeswoman, Mary Jo Murphy, when asked about the situation. "No one ever asked us to do anything officially with it. We have never issued a statement." She said it takes the Church a long time to evaluate an alleged miracle and had no further comment.
Historically, bishops in Europe immediately visited sites of alleged miracles and placed them under Church domain. There are dozens if not hundreds (literally) of examples. With all due respect: it is time for the bishops in our own time and our own culture to begin more seriously considering the tremendous indications of the miraculous.
Meanwhile, the destruction of this image raises other, more prophetic questions.
"And a sword will pierce your own soul too," says Luke 2: 35, "so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare." Those are the words of Simeon to the Blessed Mother when she brought Him to the temple.
And they come winging to mind in this year that has seen the smashing -- the thrust of a spear -- into the Clearwater image at the very same time that there was release of a movie that has caused tremendous soul searching.
I am speaking here of the Mel Gibson movie -- which seems like another example of a "sword." Is it a final time of separating the goats from the sheep, the believers from those who do not believe, the spiritual from the secular? Is it part of a year prophesied to involve "rivers" of heavenly light? Are we not in a period (yes, call it an illumination of conscience) when we will see deeper our own souls and the souls of those around us?
We must say: the movie seems to cleave the shell of the soul. It makes us look inwardly. The Blessed Mother is there throughout the movie, and as in the temple we are pierced with her. There is a mystical effect. And here again we are confused by the bishops. Indeed, there are doubtless defects in any movie, but the reaction of the bishops through their official review, if well posited, and often highly perceptive, seemed very secular and if you will pardon an observation, missed the movie's mystical effect.
We are a Church of signs and wonders. Did not Christ heal? Did He not appear in apparition? Did He Himself not experience apparitions? Do not locutions dominate the time of Exodus? Were there not miraculous healings? And signs in the sky? Was Christ not an expert at exorcism?
Were it not for miracles, Christ Himself would not have been believed. It is what substantiated His claims. It is what still substantiates His claims. And we urge the bishops to take this into consideration and begin to take the "signs and wonders" as seriously as they deserve to be taken and to steer the Church back to its historic path.
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