Oct. 19, 2012 --
A car wash in New Jersey is claiming a visit from an unlikely passerby: the Virgin Mary. Alex Leiva of Olden Avenue Car Wash believes he saw Mary as he was preparing to start the work day. While cleaning the parking lot, according to a report by the Times of Trenton, Leiva allegedly witnessed "flashing lights and a cloud of smoke" followed by an image of Mary. See Leiva's photo of the event here. Apparitions of the mother of the Christian church aren't unheard of and accepted across Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, most famously including the appearances in Lourdes and Guadalupe. Modern-day visitations by the Virgin Mary, however, seem to lack the grandeur of these more widely acknowledged apparitions.
In the early 1990s, a rural farm in Conyers, Ga., was reported to be one of the most popular Christian pilgrimage sites in North America. Thousands of pilgrims were drawn to Nancy Fowler, who claimed to see apparitions of the Virgin Mary in the clouds above her farm. Fowler also allegedly received communications from Mary to deliver to pilgrims.
In 2000, a resident of Perth Amboy, N.J., believes the Virgin Mary appeared in the window of his home. Ramon Collado had fallen through that same window and later became paralyzed, requiring him to use a wheelchair. A year later, Collado claims Mary spoke to him, saying ''we got to be prepared 'cause she's coming and her son is coming,'' according to a report by the Associated Press. Hundreds of pilgrims visited his home to see the image and to touch it.
How much would the appearance of the Virgin Mary be worth to a believer? For Diana Duyser, a Florida woman who said she had been blessed by "holy toast," the answer is $28,000. Duyser sold the grilled cheese sandwich she made more than 10 years prior to Golden Palace, which uses the blessed bread for promotional purposes.
Residents of Modine, Ill., believed that they viewed an image of the Virgin Mary along the Rock River. The shadow of the pillar of a bridge created by a nearby street light vaguely resembling the outline of Mary drew hundreds of people. The site was originally discovered by a five-year-old boy.
In 2005, a water stain at the Fullerton Avenue underpass of the Kennedy Expressway in Chicago drew pilgrims from far and wide who were convinced the stain was an apparition from the Virgin Mary. The stain was later painted over, but followers continued to return to the site.
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