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Many are those who scoff at "spiritual candy" -- meaning what they think of as "minor" miracles. The question is why God would do anything minor. One might ask: who are we to label such as that, even if it is only an ephemeral image or what seems like a sign in the clouds?

In this regard, most dramatic, and most highly publicized, are weeping statues.

But there are much more subtle examples -- especially cases in which statues of the Blessed Mother, Jesus, or Joseph seen to subtly move or shift countenance or even change the expression of the mouth and look of the eyes.

Many are those who have claimed to see statues "come to life" -- as if, for a few moments, Mary is there instead of the statue; in Ireland, there have been dozens of cases whereby she seemed to step out of roadside grottos.

It is easy to dismiss such as products of the imagination -- so subtle is this. And in fact it is impossible to document. The same is true of photos that appear to show such changes: too often, they are taken from slightly different angles, which skeptics can rightly argue influenced the appearance.

But there are too many cases whereby the event is accompanied by a feeling of grace -- something that only the witnesses can experience.

If these are "irrelevant," one must wonder why through history so many dozens of sanctuaries, chapels, oratories, churches, and basilicas have been erected on the site of statue miracles.

Those who declaim such phenomena may not realize that rich history going back in the first Christian centuries (when miracles attributed to Mary replaced pagan altars), but let us give one example here in North America: the official Notre-Dame-du-Cap Shrine east of Montreal, Quebec.

The shrine was established on June 22, 1888. It was after a Mass consecrating the shrine that it happened.

"The statue of the Virgin had been sculptured with the eyes cast down," wrote Father Frederic Janssoone, a Franciscan witness, in a history of the shrine.

"Now they were wide open, staring. The Virgin was looking straight ahead, her eyes level. It could hardly be an optical illusion: Her face was clearly visible, illuminated by the sun which, shining through one of the windows, filled the whole shrine with light. Her eyes were black, well shaped, and in perfect harmony with the rest of her face. The Virgin's expression was that of a living person, at once stern and sad. This marvel lasted somewhere between five and ten minutes.”

And now, the testimony of Pierre Lacroix:

"I went into the shrine at about seven o'clock in the evening. I was with Father Luc Désilets and Father Frederic... Well, I was praying, and then I took a look at the Holy Virgin, just in front of me. I could see clearly that the statue's eyes were wide open, but it looked natural, as if she was staring over our heads.

"I didn't say a word, just went on looking at the statue, when Father Désilets got up — he was on my right — and went over to Father Frederic. I heard him say: 'Do you see it?' — 'Yes,' Father Frederic answered, 'the statue has opened its eyes, hasn't it?' —

"'Yes, it has. But is this really taking place?' So I said that I'd seen the same thing, that I'd been watching it for several minutes. And I'm making this solemn declaration because I believe in my heart and conscience that it is true, and I know that it has the same force and binding effect as if it had been made under oath."

When more than one sees such, it takes on yet more significance.

What have viewers related?

And the skeptics?

"I'm a practicing Catholic with strong faith in God," said a viewer who wanted to remain unnamed. "I've received gifts of mysticism and I have witnessed many miracles, so I'm definitely a believer.

"Still, I wouldn't refer to photos as being 'miraculous' unless I was positive there were no other explanations.

"Years ago, I purposely took several shots of statues from different angles. Sure enough, the ones photographed from the front and beneath the chin line suddenly appeared as if they were looking up. Both the Medjugorje statue photos and Little Flower statue photos you posted in a story of April 24 were shot at different angles to cause a similar effect. Of course, even non-believers can get 'miraculous' images when they aim the camera at the sun. So, why do you think they look at Christians like they're crazy when they claim every such photo is 'miraculous.' It's not. If someone can capture a set of photos taken at perfectly identical angles where a 'miraculous' photo has allegedly been shot, then more non-believers might believe."

And those who say they have been witnesses?

"I notice this kind of happening with two statues in our own church in Shelby, Montana," says Mark A. Cross, CEO of the Marias Medical Center. "When I pray in front of St. Thérèse the Little Flower and our Blessed Virgin, their eyes and faces appear to be looking away and during prayer their faces and eyes seem to have turned and are facing me. I don't feel this is really big news to some if they have a good prayer life."

"I was on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje and various shrines in Italy two summers ago," says a woman named Linda from Glenshaw, Pennsylvania. "Our group was in San Giovanni Rotondo, waiting to hear Mass in the crypt chapel where Padre Pio is buried. While waiting for Mass to begin, I was looking straight ahead of me at the icon of Jesus that was hanging on the wall to the side of the altar. The eyes of Jesus in the icon became alive for me. It was as if Jesus was looking into my very soul, communicating His incredible love for me. It was an overwhelming experience. I cried through the entire Mass! The words of Scripture spoke directly to my heart like no other time before."

"I took pictures of our Lady of Medjugorje (a statue inside the church) and when the pictures were developed, her head and eyes were in different positions," recounts Rose Marie Benoit. "Even the manager of CVS was amazed."

"One Tuesday morning, after the Mass was over, we started to say the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary," said a man from Crossville, Tennessee. "There is a picture of Jesus kneeling in the Garden of Gethsemane in my prayer book. Suddenly the picture became alive and Jesus turned His head to look directly at me."

"I have a big Crucifix hanging on my living room wall and for the past few months the wounds on Jesus seem to appear more life like with more blood on them, but it doesn't happen all at once," says a woman from Indiana. "The wounds sometimes appear as just paint and on some days they appear more like blood. There are times when I look at the eyes of Jesus on the Cross and His eyes look as if they are a turquoise color. I had asked my husband if he thought I was going crazy because of what I was seeing, but then he noticed some change as well."

"My family was rounding out our trip to D.C. when we went to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception," says Jay Keesler of Evesham, New Jersey, who sent the pictures. "While there I was taking pictures and when I got home noticed a strange occurrence in the picture from the Our Lady of Sorrows Chapel. The picture looked as if it glowed and Mary's eyes opened and her head looked up.  We are not sure if it is an illusion or really happened.  I thought I was nuts, but my son saw it too." Suggestion?

"These pictures were taken at a May crowning ceremony in Streator, Illinois," writes Mary Zink (another woman snapped them).

"My mother [Theresa Gaznis in Archibald, Pennsylvania] asked me to send you these pictures," says another. "These two pictures where taken on two different days from the same perspective at the Holy Name of Mary Church, Donora, Pennsylvania, and it appears the head has moved in the one photograph." Signs or distractions?

Oh, so subtle -- and debatable -- most times.

After seeing the Head of Christ move, a woman from Colorado Eileen Barnes said, "I gasped so loud that my sister asked me what was the matter.

"I turned to everyone, asking them if they didn't see Him moving.

"He continued for what seemed forever.

"No one saw it but me."

[resources: The God of Miracles]

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