Saturday, December 6, 2008

Seeing Virgins and Smelling the Roses

By John Ramsey Miller

Last week some woman in California had salsa shoot out from her blender and the red stain on the wall looked to her to be a precise likeness of the actual Virgin Mary. I’m not talking about a Virgin Mary (tomato juice, Tabasco, pepper, celery stick, but hold the vodka either. What are the odds that this freak accident might just be a random stain caused by a blender lid failure and not the actual Virgin Mary communicating with this Catholic housewife? It might be the former were it not for the unexplainable odor of roses in a kitchen that ought by rights to smell like decaying salsa. Just to make sure people make the connection, this woman placed a portrait (available in any Catholic relic superstore) of the Virgin Mary on the stove and pinned up her rosary in to encircle the Salsa Virgin Mary so one’s eyes immediately zero in on her SVM. This Holy kitchen event (worthy of being covered by the world press in the time of terror attacks) got me to thinking once again about the nature of religions icon sightings. We’ve all seen coverage of the face of Jesus in the screen door in a trailer park, drawn in dirt on the side of an eighteen wheeler, in a rust stain in a shower, and in a glass window in an office building. We’ve all seen the Virgin Mary spotted in the oozing of water leaking from the concrete wall under a bridge, in a potato chip, the spot on a cat’s stomach and in various other unusual places. People flock to these sights to see Jesus or Mary in the flesh, or Salsa, for themselves. It’s hard for me to imagine Jesus or Mary planning these events, or taking place in them. You can see a better likeness of either or both in any church or cathedral in the world.

The thing I find fascinating about these iconic appearances (or mysterious apparitions) is that Protestants "always" see Jesus, while Catholics seem universally to spot Mother Mary. Likenesses of Buddah and Mohammed either never turn up on a kettle fry, in black mold on sheetrock or some other odd media or simply aren’t ever covered by the world media. Well, I suppose any appearances by Mohammed would be immediately erased by nearby Moslems since there can be no likeness of him ever created for any reason whatsoever. I wonder if that was his edict or some decision of his loyal followers due to the sorry state of portrait art in the Middle East at the time? Obviously Mary and Jesus have the whole appearing icon thing monopolized. Graven images have come a very long way since the days when Mohammed was spreading his religion by the sword. In fairness most (if not all) religions have been spread by the sword, the dunking chair, or a nice hot fire.

You know, I like religion and I'm not surprised that the latest research says that you will live longer if you attend to church regularly. In fact the more often you go to church, the longer you live. When I sit through a church service time does tend to stand still, and an hour often feels like ten. I suppose, if that is correct, that if you have a Salsa Virgin Mary in your kitchen, a screen door Jesus on your trailer, or another equally interesting Holy Relic you could just hang out a at home and live as long as you like.

Any thoughts on these sightings?


  1. No one ever claims to see the image of Britney Spears in their bagel and cream cheese. Pet stains on an old carpet never reveal the face of Ozzy Osbourne or Newt Gingrich. It’s always Mary or Jesus. I think it’s because we only see what we want to see. In many ways, it’s a lot like folks who believe in reincarnation. No one ever claims to be a garbage collector or chimney sweep or some other shitty job in a previous life. It’s always Julius Caesar or Romeo or Cleopatra. People see the Salsa Virgin Mary because it beats seeing Joan Rivers.

  2. Remember the impression of Jesus on cheese toast that sold on eBay? Now you can can buy your own pan with an impression of Jesus, for make-your-own JCheese toast,
    Too good to be true!

  3. You know those interlocking wine glass stains on your desk, John?

    Have you ever considered that the Holy Trinity might be sending you a message?