A steady stream of the faithful and the curious, many carrying flowers
and candles, have flocked to an expressway underpass for a view of a
yellow and white stain on a concrete wall that some believe is an image
of the Virgin Mary.
have patrolled the emergency turnoff area under the Kennedy Expressway
since Monday as hundreds of people have walked down to see the image
and the growing memorial of flowers and candles that surround it.
the image is
an artist's rendering of the Virgin Mary embracing Pope John Paul II in
a pose some see echoed in the stain.
believe it's a miracle," said Elbia Tello, 42. "We have faith, and we
can see her face."
women knelt with rosary beads behind a police barricade while men in
work shirts stood solemnly before the image, praying. A police officer
kept the crowd of about three dozen from getting too close to the
traffic but didn't stop them gathering around the stain.
stain is likely
the result of salt run-off, according to the Illinois Department of
Transportation. The agency does not plan to scrub it off the wall.
this just like we treat any type of roadside memorial," said IDOT
spokesman Mike Claffey. "We have no plans to clean this site."
Archdiocese of Chicago had not received any requests to authenticate
the image as of Monday, spokesman Jim Dwyer said.
happen every day," Dwyer said. "Sometimes people ask us to look into
it. Most of the time they don't. (The meaning) depends on the
individual who sees it. To them, it's real. To them, it reaffirms their
onlooker Victor Robles, 36, said he was skeptical about the stain's
Virgin Mary resemblance.
see just a
concrete wall and an image that could happen anywhere," Robles said.
"If that image helps more people feel closer to God than maybe that is
a good sign."
people have been drawn to images believed to resemble the Virgin Mary
seen on windows, fence posts and walls.
best-known in the United States was an image seen in office windows in
Clearwater, Fla. Within weeks, a half million people had been to the
believe the image was created by a chemical reaction and corrosion of
the metallic elements in the glass coating, but they could not explain
why it took the shape it did. The windows were broken last year.