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DOES THERE REMAIN MYSTERY IN ANCIENT 'MYSTICAL' EVENTS, AS WELL AS NEW ONES?
Do there remain mysteries in old mystical events?
It's one question we would like to ask this week, and it is a query that often associates itself with the famous apparition to Juan Diego near Mexico City and known as Guadalupe.
Many claims have been made of the miraculous image left by the Blessed Mother on Juan's tilma (an image that, like the Shroud, exists today). And to our own time, the crucial question remains: how was the image inflected on material (without use of any known paint)?
There are many claims about Guadalupe. Well established is the remarkable fact that, under a microscope, silhouettes of people -- resembling a bishop, as well as Juan Diego -- seem etched in the pupils of her eyes like a photographic snapshot (albeit one from 1531). In February of 1979 a researcher named Dr. Jose Aste Tonsman discovered a digitalized enlargement of each pupil contained twelve people.
How did those images get there?
There are other claims. Is there anything to them? One has to be careful. Guadalupe in particular has been a magnet for extravagant assertions. There is one internet slide display claiming that ophthamalogical studies on the Guadalupe eyes detected that the "retina" contracts when exposed to light (like a human's). Fact or fiction?
There is also the assertion that the temperature of the tilma (made of maguey cactus fiber) has been recorded at precisely 98.6 F.
Is that really true?
At certain junctures, a reflection on the glass encasing the image has shown a form resembling that of an unborn child. Just the luck of light (as seems to happen so often)?
For many years has been the claim of a heartbeat that was once detected at the Virgin's waist (in the same report, at 115 beats a minute, like an unborn's) when a physician put his stethoscope to it.
We simply don't know. Our question: who detected such? What was the name of the doctor?
One we never heard before: that from a distance of three or four inches, the image of Guadalupe is seen as just cactus fibers with no colors -- that the colors hover about 1/100th of an inch above the actual material, when measured by the ray of a laser. This too will make for an interesting search. Fact or more fiction?
We do know that there is no color on the back of the cloth, and that no known pigment was used to paint it, at least according to some researchers. The Nobel Chemistry prize recipient Richard Kuhn said in 1936 that the coloring was not from a mineral, vegetable, or animal source -- none of the 111 then-known elements.
Studies started in 1956 and continuing to the present by several ophthalmologists, including Dr. Javier Torroella Bueno (1956) and Dr. Josť Aste Tonsmann (El Secreto de sus Ojos, 2001), were the ones to claim that images are reflected in the eyes of the Virgin after amplifying the photographs 2,500 times. The pupils reflect a group of Native Americans and Franciscans. This much is true.
There is the further claim that there are also images in the pupils of the silhouettes. This we can not confirm.
Usually, cactus tilmas last twenty to thirty years. This one has lasted for nearly 500 -- in the saline atmosphere of the metro area. In 1791 -- we are also informed -- muriatic acid was spilled onto the tilma, but over a period of thirty days, the damaged spot reconstituted. For your discernment.
Farther south, in Betania, Venezuela -- more recently -- are those who claim that photos of a famous statue associated with the apparitions of Maria Esperanza, Our Lady Reconciler of Nations seemed to change character in various photographs taken on the anniversary day of March 25. ?
Or is it all the blur of a camera?
We just don't know!
Meanwhile, in the U.S., perfect crosses have been forming in the reflections on homes in New Jersey.
This is interesting because the same was claimed (and photographed) several years ago in Southern California. Old mysteries are being joined by new ones -- and countless reports.
"My sister works the graveyard shift at a local nursing home," wrote Julie Balon of Scranton, Pennsylvania. "On Easter Sunday night, March 23, 2008, she was driving to work when she noticed something that looked like a cross on the moon. She thought it might just be her imagination and decided not to say anything because people would probably think she's crazy. When she got to work, a local TV channel was showing the weather and a man had called in to the station to report that there was a cross on the moon, so they put the camera on it. My sister knew then that it wasn't her imagination. She could see it clearly on TV as well. She said it was just off center to the right and looked like a shadow on the moon."
A time of grace? A time of signs?
[The further claim is that when one of the images was of Bishop Juan de Zumarraga who built the Basilica at Guadalupe's request. When the pupil of the bishop's eye was enlarged 1,000 times, the image of Juan Diego showing the tunic with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe reflected in the eyes of the bishop. The image is the size of a micron or 1/4 of a millimeter.]
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