For the believers, it made sense that Mary might only appear to and speak to the world through innocent peasant children, using their humble status to convey her messages of peace and spiritual salvation. Skeptics, however, noted that there was no real evidence of any miracles occurring, and suggested that Lucia was an imaginative girl who influenced her suggestible younger cousins. Predictions of Things Past ]. In addition, there was likely an element of mild mass hysteria involved, where one person sees something and gets excited about it, and others feed off it and start seeing similar things themselves.
This is neither dangerous nor uncommon. Mass suggestion can be very powerful, and it's not difficult to find examples in which the religious mind sees images that may not really exist.
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December , for example, was an especially busy season for Mary, starting when a woman named Mari Valenzuela of Alhambra, California, noticed an image of the Virgin Mary in her melted candle. The lump, about an inch high and made of soft white wax, resembled a woman's head and torso. Valenzuela showed the miracle to her priest, who assured her that it was a sign that her life was on the right path. The Virgin Mary next showed up at a backyard barbecue in McAllen, Texas, when a guest noticed that a darkened oval knot in a wooden fence looked like Mary; her presence was credited with helping a woman recover well from a recent surgery.
Then, a few days before Christmas, a woman in Dallas, Texas, photographed a transparent, oblong image through the back window of her Ford Expedition that she believed was of the Virgin Mary. It's not surprising that human-shaped forms might be interpreted as religious figures, especially around the religious holidays.
People see these images for the same reason that they see faces in clouds, Rorschach blots and coffee stains. This phenomenon, called pareidolia , is well known in psychology, and it is the cause of many supposedly mysterious and miraculous events including the famous "Jesus in the Tortilla".
Whether the sightings are the result of a miracle or a mundane psychological process, they are welcomed by the faithful. Benjamin Radford is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and author of six books, including "Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries. He covers pseudoscience, psychology, urban legends and the science behind "unexplained" or mysterious phenomenon. Ben has a master's degree in education and a bachelor's degree in psychology.
He is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and has written, edited or contributed to more than 20 books, including " Scientific Paranormal Investigation: His website is www.source
The Lady of Fátima & the Miracle of the Sun
Live Science Mysteries Reference: Lucia Santos, 10, in the middle; with her cousins, Jacinta, 7, and Francisco Marto, 9. This beautiful picture was captured at sunrise on a cold and still Park City morning. Called sundogs, this phenomenon is caused by sunlight being refracted through ice crystals. Taken by Don Brown with an Olympus OM1 and a 28mm lens, this image shows two parhelia on each side of the sun and one just visible at the top of the image.
However all of this can serve to enhance your visit - make the most of the opportunity to take in your surroundings. The stairway leading to the statue, plus the room and altar in which the statue sits are ornate, golden and pay tribute to the wonder that is the Virgin herself. The statue sits behind a sheet of glass. However, one of her hands that is holding a sphere which symbolises the universe is not behind the glass. It is tradition for you to kiss or touch the Virgin's hand whilst opening out your other hand to Jesus.
This page will provide you with details of the history of the statue of the Black Madonna, plus information on where it is, whether you have to pay to see it, the waiting times for seeing the Black Madonna and accessibility to the statue.
The whole of Montserrat is built around facilitating the worship of the Black Madonna in the Basilica. The Black Madonna was believed to have been carved in Jerusalem at the beginning of the religion.
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It is a wooden sculpture. Black Madonnas can be found all over the world, If you are interested in the history of the concept of the Black Madonna and its various depictions, it is worth a visit to the Montserrat Museum where there is a whole section dedicated to its art and history. As you enter the doorway to the Basilica that will take you to the Black Madonna statue see below for where this is , you will pass the chapels that lead to the Virgin.
The first chapel is in honour of Saint Peter, the second is in honour of St Ignatius of Loyola, the third is on honour of St Martin and the fourth is in honour of St Joseph Calasantius. In it was decided that a new room, known as the 'throne room' would be built with a stairway leading to the statue. The work of sculptors, architects, artists and jewellers was recruited and the project was headed by the architect Francesc Folguera and the painter Josep Obiols to build the room and altar in which the statue is placed. The new building work was scheduled to be completed on 27 April - a day to be known as the Enthronement.
However, work finally finished in As you enter the room where the Virgin sits, it is worth noting the doors - they are made of repousse silver and were created by Josep Obiols, Rafel Solanic and Manuel Capdevila.
The Lady of Fátima & the Miracle of the Sun
The Black Madonna herself sits on an incredibly ornate throne which is covered in Venetian mosaics. At either side of the Virgin you will spot nine silver lamps - these represent the eight dioceses of Catalunya and Montserrat.
Above the Virgin's head there are Angels that were created by the sculptor Marti Llaurado. On leaving the altar of the Black Madonna, at the bottom of the stairs, you will be given the opportunity to say a prayer in the chapel of the Image of the Mother of God. This chapel was completed in under the direction of Francesc de Paula del Villar i Lozano who was helped by a young Antoni Gaudi.
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One of the most common questions about the Black Madonna is why she is black. The dark colour of the Virgin's face is the reason why locals have nicknamed her 'La Moreneta' "the little black lady". Contrary to popular belief, she is not black due a portrayal of a Black African Madonna. The blackness also does not come from a dark colour in the wood or from earlier coverings in paint.
English translation of 'virgem'
It is known from historical descriptions of the Madonna that she has simply darkened over time. This area is a moving place where you will be given the opportunity to pay homage to the statue that you have just seen. Each candle that you will see has been lit as a prayer to the Virgin Mary.