of Virgin Mary appears on US building
three weeks over Christmas 1996, 450,000 people went to view the wall
of a black glass building in south Florida where a two-storey-high image
of the Virgin Mary had appeared. The rainbow-coloured image on the outside
of the Seminole Finance building in Clearwater, Florida, is about 50 feet
wide and 35 feet tall, and stretches across nine panes of glass.
Some witnesses said the image began forming about the time of Thanksgiving,
in late November. A couple of weeks later, a customer of Seminole Finance
called a local television station to say she had seen an image of the
Virgin Mary on the building. The station showed pictures of the image
during their newscast, and soon large crowds began gathering.
building of the "Virgin Mary" in Clearwater, Florida
Virgin Mary Building
21649 U.S. 19 N.
Clearwater, Florida 33765
Tel: (001) 727 - 725-9312
"It's quite amazing. It's very spiritual, very peaceful," said
Patty Scharn, a receptionist at the building. According to police spokesman
Wayne Shelor: "People are making shrines, bringing gifts, candles,
flowers, statues. Some have been overwhelmed and fainted. We have the
infirm, the disabled in wheelchairs, the blind. They're coming 500 at
a time.... But it's not a carnival atmosphere. There is a sense of awe
Some visitors said the image was caused by the sun reflecting off water
left by sprinklers. A spokesman for the local Catholic diocese said: "There's
no reason at this point to think that what's appearing there cannot be
explained by natural causes ... We're just telling people to exercise
caution. Use some healthy scepticism."
But many who have come to view the image do not need to be convinced of
its authenticity. "It was like you're in an angel's arms," said
(Sources: Associated Press; Clearwater
Times, Petersburg Times, USA; Hamburger Abendblatt,
(The following report is from Jane Baker who visited Clearwater)
"The effect of this apparition has been peaceful, uplifting, and
unifying throughout the west central Florida communities. Night after
night it was the 'big story' at the top of the hour for all the local
television newscasts. People of all different ages, races, nationalities
and beliefs daily come to pray before Mary. The crowds are orderly, friendly,
and loving. There has been no negative reaction to this apparition.
What amazes me is the hush that falls upon the crowd as they look upon
the figure. You know it is sacred. Even the policemen directing traffic
hour after hour, day after day, are relaxed, pleasant, and wishing everyone
a happy holiday. In front of the glass are rows and rows of flowers, candles,
food and other gifts to honour Mary. All the money donated at the site
has been turned over to local charities.
The owner of the building does not care that hundreds, even thousands
of people are occupying his parking lot. He does not care what effect
it will have on his business. He says he is blessed and everyone is welcome
to see Mary day or night. Yes, you can even see it in the dark. The city
planners in charge of traffic control are calling their task-force 'The
Miracle Management Team'.
"I will be returning to the site in a couple of days. It is awesome.
I don't know which I find more compelling - the vision of Mary or the
transforming effect on the masses."
from: Share International January/February 1997
Reprinted by courtesy of © Share