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WHAT TO THINK OF STRANGE PHENOMENON WHEREBY GLITTERY SUBSTANCE ALLEGEDLY MATERIALIZES?
At a far edge of alleged Catholic supernatural phenomena are cases in which it is claimed that a colorful glittery material has materialized in some places on particular people or at poignant times like some sort of manna.
Is it a hoax? Is it demonic? Is it a strikingly unusual move of the Holy Spirit?
Your consideration is as valid as ours.
And challenging this is.
There are precedents. At Fatima, Portugal, glitter-like lights fell, on one occasion, at the site of apparitions, and the same has been true of the Church-approved site of Betania near Caracas, Venezuela -- which in fact was designated by the bishop as "sacred ground."
Glitter was reported on the face of Maria Esperanza, the mystic associated with that site.
It has been reported in connection with a good number of statues, especially those alleged to "weep."
The substance accompanies or follows lacrimation -- or so it is claimed.
At Fatima, however, the "glitter" was immaterial and dissolved into thin air -- more a luminosity.
Other cases involve something that can actually be touched. And it seems peculiar: a bit flashy for the Holy Spirit, some may argue; and just flat out strange.
But reports there are. And by good, competent people.
As we noted nearly a decade ago, the instances have been particularly numerous in South Florida.
And as a website called Visions of Jesus reports, there are people such as Colombian television and theatre actress Margalida Castro [left] who assert that encounters with Mary have included a glittery substances falling upon her or in her vicinity.
Latinos knows this as "escarchas."
It's true that God can do anything, but...
In June of 2012, according to a Guadalupe blog, there was an instance in Oahu, Hawaii. Claimed the blogger: "I experienced something strange, but wonderful, on the morning of June 20th... have you ever heard of escarchas? 'Escarchas' is the Spanish word for 'frost'... but in certain religious circles the same word has also been used to describe small, shiny colored particles -- mainly fine flakes of gold or silver -- that have materialized at a few Marian apparition sites or during random prayer events. The alleged phenomena is not exclusive to Catholics, but it has also been frequently reported by Fundamentalist Christians at their charismatic prayer services; they refer to it as 'Shekinah Glory Dust,' or simply 'Gold Dust.'
"I only learned about the phenomenon of escarchas maybe about a year and a half ago, and I never really knew what to make of it. Largely ignorant about escarchas, I figured that it was similar in concept and/or purpose to the mystical sign of 'manna' -- the mysterious fluid or solid substances that have appeared throughout Christian History to nourish and/or heal the People of God. I was also a little cautious about it because I felt that it was a little too 'glitzy' to be taken seriously as a spiritual sign, and for the most part, that's what I believed until a couple of days ago...
"On the 20th, while at my place of work, I printed a copy of a drawing that I sketched for my parish priest and placed it face-down on the desk beside me. A bit later when I picked up the paper to show it to a coworker, she noticed a light sprinkling of silver and golden particles on the drawing; it resembled glitter, except it was much finer than any glitter that I've ever seen before... plus there was no container of glitter present anywhere on my desk. Perplexed, but not thinking much of it, I swiped the shiny flakes off the paper and off my desk, and then noticed additional flakes sticking to both my hands and on the top of my forearms. When I looked back at my desk, it looked as though there were more flakes so I started removing them with a clear piece of scotch tape to avoid spreading them around.
"Feeling a little incredulous, I left my cubicle to speak with a trusted friend and also showed her the shiny particles on the paper and on my arms; the ones clinging to my body appeared to have increased! It was at that point that I began to suspect that we were witnessing a manifestation of escarchas. My friend and I discussed the circumstances in detail and we both concluded that it was perhaps a sign from St. Anthony of Padua; that he was pleased with the drawing I did for my priest (see here)..."
Pretty hard to comprehend.
We keep an open mind, but...
"The Escarchas first appeared as silver and golden flakes, but as weeks went by other colors have manifested, too: green, red, pink, purple, and various shades of blue. On a few occasions, the escarchas were even colorless, resembling very small slivers of clear glass. There are a couple of websites that report the colors signify certain meanings, but I haven't experienced anything to the effect that confirmed that theory. I did notice, however, that the gold and silver escarchas frequently appeared during Mass.
"The escarchas ranged in size and shape from very fine dust-like flakes to larger hexagonal particles; on one occasion, an escarcha even took the form of a bright red heart, which caught me by surprise and touched me deeply! Stranger still, at two other times, they materialized in the form of crystalline particles resembling very tiny bits of "rock salt" (there was nothing around me that remotely resembled salt), recalling to mind the significance of salt in Sacred Scripture.
"With the mention of the colorless and crystal-like
forms, I also want to add that although escarchas have often been
described as 'glitter,' they are not - there are clear
differences in size, shape, and texture from man-made glitter. In
fact, the sense I've gotten is that escarchas are organic (natural)
in composition rather than synthetic (artificial). To
best describe how they appear, my immediate vicinity could be
clear of any type of small debris, when suddenly, a little sparkle
of white or colored light (like a tiny star!) will appear out of
nowhere only to be replaced by an escarcha. I have never seen them falling or 'raining' down
as described by witnesses on other religious websites. The Escarchas always appeared small,
but preceded by a very bright 'sparkle' of light...
"After having collected many of the escarchas
with scotch tape, I noticed that they seem to maintain and emit
their own 'luminosity' rather than reflecting light from another
source... and their vivid colors appear to be enhanced by the
light that shines from them, which are often the same color as
the escarchas themselves.
"The escarchas, at times, have changed from one color to another. For
example, on one occasion while I was at Mass, an escarcha
manifested near my foot. I picked-up the glittery flake with a
finger and clearly saw that it was silver in color, and I rubbed
it into a crease in my palm as a way of safekeeping it until I
could collect it with tape. Later, when I opened my hand, I
noticed that the same escarcha had turned bright gold! At least
one other person who I shared a few escarchas with has reported
back to me about its color-changing properties.
"Lastly, the escarchas have sometimes
mysteriously multiplied, and likewise, disappeared. On
several occasions, I've seen a single flake materialize on
the surface of something, and after I collected it with a piece
of tape, there would suddenly be other escarchas on the
same item or on my fingers! A few friends with whom I have
shared some of the escarchas with have reported how the
glittery particles have later manifested on, or around them,
during their personal prayer times, which could also be
interpreted as a form of multiplication.
"On the opposite end of the spectrum, I've seen escarchas materialize only to vanish as mysteriously as they
appeared. More than once, I've put my finger on an
order to place it on a piece of tape, but when I looked at my
finger, the escarcha was nowhere to be seen."
It has occurred in Paraguay. And Mexico. It has
occurred in Texas.
"After having collected many of the escarchas with scotch tape, I noticed that they seem to maintain and emit their own 'luminosity' rather than reflecting light from another source... and their vivid colors appear to be enhanced by the light that shines from them, which are often the same color as the escarchas themselves.
"The escarchas, at times, have changed from one color to another. For example, on one occasion while I was at Mass, an escarcha manifested near my foot. I picked-up the glittery flake with a finger and clearly saw that it was silver in color, and I rubbed it into a crease in my palm as a way of safekeeping it until I could collect it with tape. Later, when I opened my hand, I noticed that the same escarcha had turned bright gold! At least one other person who I shared a few escarchas with has reported back to me about its color-changing properties.
"Lastly, the escarchas have sometimes mysteriously multiplied, and likewise, disappeared. On several occasions, I've seen a single flake materialize on the surface of something, and after I collected it with a piece of tape, there would suddenly be other escarchas on the same item or on my fingers! A few friends with whom I have shared some of the escarchas with have reported how the glittery particles have later manifested on, or around them, during their personal prayer times, which could also be interpreted as a form of multiplication.
"On the opposite end of the spectrum, I've seen escarchas materialize only to vanish as mysteriously as they appeared. More than once, I've put my finger on an escarcha in order to place it on a piece of tape, but when I looked at my finger, the escarcha was nowhere to be seen."
It has occurred in Paraguay. And Mexico. It has occurred in Texas.
Here's a list!
We stand baffled.
[see also: our report in 2004]
[Footnote: As we reported in 2006, "In many parts of the world or at least the West, those involved in devotional and charismatic practices have asserted that at times a strange "glitter" falls, like decorative manna. This is a particularly difficult phenomenon to accept in the way of its strangeness and glitziness, although it was reported during the apparitions at Fatima, Portugal, during 1917 in an ephemeral form which soon vanished, leaving no material.
The theme of escarchas has become a controversial topic for
certain people, some lend absolute credibility to them, believing they are
a sign that shows the presence and aid of the Most Holy Virgin, just as
she affirmed it that day February 9, 1993, to Sister Mary Carmen. Others
reject such a possibility and doubt, laughing it all off.
It is important to precisely touch on this theme with a certain latitude by noting that escarchas from Carrizal have been studied twice in different laboratories of the Central University of Venezuela.
The first study was carried out by the petition of the Sister Mary Clara, superior of the Servants of Jesus in Carrizal and by the Chief Engineer who was the intermediary with the UCV, since was he graduated from that university in the Faculty of Engineering and could help in that sense. The Laboratory of Special Studies of the School of Mechanical Engineering accepted the assignment and proceeded with a thorough a scientific investigation.
This study was carried out September 21 -- October 14, 1993.
The samples were taken of escarchas which appeared on different days within
the dates mentioned, in the monastery of Carrizal, as well as a sample of
the escarchas which appeared the day following the first apparition so that
those also could be analyzed.
So once they separated and placed the samples in test tubes. They were sealed airtight, to prevent the possibility of fraud, by order of the Chief Engineer. He was likewise present during the majority of the hours of study dedicated to the investigation. In this manner and under these conditions, were the escarchas delivered to the laboratory of the UCV.
It is interesting here to allude to an event which happened September 22, when at 9:00 AM, a doctor came to the laboratory and related that the previous day having listened on the origin of the escarchas, and having access to the laboratory, had secretly taken two of these escarchas to his two small children who had suffered from chronic asthma for some years.
He related that after having taken the escarchas home, the
children unexpectedly suffered a severe asthma attack and expelled phlegm
by coughing almost all night. They were cured when they awoke; the asthma
The laboratory continued its scientific examination of the escarchas, submitting them to study and observation, by viewing them in the microscope without processing and in the electron microscope without processing.
Then they were studied again in the microscope and in the electronic one, but this time with processing chemicals.
They were then submitted to different mechanical actions and
to other various chemical processing and incinerated in a burning flame.
The results were similar to the ones found in the second more comprehensive
and exhaustive study.
This second study was carried out, with the consent of the Sister Mary Clara, with a much more extensive sample of escarchas, including industrial glitter, manufactured by man, in order to know the difference between them.
From among the escarchas that appeared from the Virgin were chosen samples from other convents in Venezuela in which this phenomenon had also taken place, including some collected during a conference of the Marian Movement of Priests on March 2, 1992.
The colors of the religious escarchas chosen for this scientific study, so-called to distinguish them from manufactured glitter were silver, gold, green, red, aquamarine, pink, and transparent.
They took the shapes of squares, rectangles, and hexagons. Their size was between 1 and 2 millimeters.
There was also golden dust collected. The circumstances of these appearance of escarchas was related to some of these situations: moments of anguish and pain, dedication to the Virgin, moments of prayer, and even without any particular reason: simply they appeared.
Some escarchas had appeared on the hands, others on the face; there were also taken from various parts of the body, and even some collected off bedspreads, off the cloths of the altar, or off the pews of the church. As for type of people they had been collected from: children, youths and adults, religious sisters, as well as laymen of both sexes.
This second study was initiated in October of 1994 and was
finished in May of 1995. The thesis of the experiment had this title:
"INVESTIGATION OF THE PRIVATE MATERIAL OF VARIOUS COLORS AND ITS COMPARISON
WITH INDUSTRIAL GLITTER"
The religious escarchas taken of the samples chosen of the places already mentioned were submitted to the same experimental processing that the other man-made glitter, in order to compare the physiochemical characteristics of both types and to compare likewise the effects produced by subjugation of both groups to mechanical actions, incinerations by flame, chemical
processing, and other means.
The chemical processing both types of escarchas (religious and industrial glitter) were submitted successively to nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, isopropol alcohol, to NITAL (mixture of alcohol and nitric acid), to hydroxide of sodium, to benzol, to benzene, and to flurohydric acid. After being submitted to these chemical substances for periods that oscillated between 60 minutes and several days, they were examined by electron microscope.
Selected for this experiment was the laboratory of Physics of the Faculty of Sciences of the Central University, in which was located one of the better electron microscopes in Venezuela.
The results were carefully scrutinized by three professors
and continuously monitored by the Licentiate in Biology, Gillermo Strap, of
the Laboratory of Physics of the UCV. The conditions of the experiments and
strict measures of scientific character were carefully followed.
These results can be summarized thus:
A.- Simple observation can differentiate the religious escarchas from man-made glitter in the following way: the religious ones have greater quantity of tones in its color. For example in glitter, they came three types of green tone and in the religious to seven types of that tone of
color can be observed. The religious escarchas are thin, light, and shine with apparently their own brightness; they do not reflect light shined on them in the same manner as does glitter. The religious escarchas adhere to any surface and it is difficult to remove them. They present two faces or surfaces, as the plant leaves: a "top" and "bottom" side.
On the other hand, manufactured glitter is rough; it feels sandy, without its own brightness, it dazzles when any light shines on it; it is not as adherent as escarchas, and they present two equal surfaces.
B - Observation with optic microscope, without processing the following differences can be found:
In the religious escarchas is observed the presence of
protozoans or of green or various algae and blue or of diverse fungi,
bubbles of air, water, and crystals. These elements always remained static,
without activity, they seemed like fossils.
In the man-made glitter it is observed that besides having the two equal faces lack protozoans, fungi, algae and they do not contain anything organic in them.
C - Of the observation with electron microscope without processing, can be appreciated the following differences:
The escarchas are not metallic -- it is impossible to see them without first covering them with gold (does not apply with silver escarchas), in order visualize them with the detachment of the necessary secondary electrons to be able to view them through the electron microscope. They show they have a laminated structure. The edges are solid.
Glitter possesses half of the thickness of the religious escarchas; they are of plastic material and the mark of the cut of the machine is observed at the same junction, as if were a fingerprint. The edges are not solid.
D.- Of the observation of the frosts submitted to various chemical processing and then analyzed by optic microscope, can be appreciated these differences:
No differences were found when both groups were submitted to nitric acid, hydrochloric acid and distilled water.
But with isopropyl alcohol, the religious escarchas were not
bleached, but the glitter was bleached 75 percent. With NITAL the religious
escarchas remained stable while the glitter
suffered total discoloration, they diminished in size and developed pores, tracks, and bubbles of air.
With hydroxide of sodium the religious escarchas did not suffer alterations, while the glitter was reduced of size.
test of acid fluorohydric acid turns out to be highly significant: the
religious escarchas remained stable while the industrial glitter disappeared
This last experiment shows that the religious escarchas are not metallic, neither they are of plastic, nor mica, nor resins. Their composition could not be determined. With the oxide of propylene the same thing was shown, although through this chemical substance, glitter suffered corrosion by its industrial nature, but not the religious escarchas.
E.- Of the observation of the frosts submitted to thermal procedure of flames and combustion is obtained these differences:
The religious frosts are bleached a little, but they increase their shine and do not leave any residual odor. The glitter is bleached completely; they lose the shine and they leave an irritating odor, noxious to the eyes and the throat. This scientific differential analysis is presented in order to present a clear conclusion that the phenomenon of escarchas cannot be so easily dismissed, as some have done, even to the point of laughter and mockery.
One can sin by negligence or omission, not only by action. It is a fact that from 1993 the phenomenon of escarchas has constantly increased and has reached in Venezuela such proportions that it cannot be ignored. This study can help in the comprehension of the reality of this phenomenon connected with the presence of the Virgin, just as she declared on February 9, 1993. Since the escarchas have become a phenomenon of incalculable proportions, the same one, the Most Holy Virgin deigned to deliver to a priest who desires to remain anonymous, the meaning of their colors.
I have here the message of the September 23, 1999:
Revelation About the Meaning of the Escarchas
In these times in which men feel self-satisfied and far away from my Son the Lord, I want to declare in a humbler way, the message that I want to deliver to them and to declare to them the meaning of the escarchas. The ones who live in my heart are those who have been bought by the blood of my Son. Therefore, prayer, sacrifice, reconciliation, and penitence are the weapons with which are going to fight in the battle against Satan.
I want to announce to them the meaning of the colors of my frosts:
-- The silver: in them I show you the magnanimity of my
heart. Ask me what you want.
-- The golden: in them I incline toward the weak one; I am going to heal you spiritually, physically, psychologically, morally.
-- The blue: in them I want to announce you my proximity. I am with you, I have been present to you.
-- The green: they are a song so that open you to hope. I will act in the favor of God. Hope in God.
-- The red: in times of trial you offer me a sacrifice; remember that I love you.
-- The transparent: the road of humility is the path that leads to freedom. I know those who are humble and simple
-- The aquamarines: is the road that is very treacherous and
curved, I want to tell you on that road, I will be with you.
To my children, who have been graced with my gifts, sprouted from the love of my Son, and who are the sweetest fragrance of the Father, to all who find shelter in His breast, I give my blessing in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
For your discernment only!]
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