Update! Higher resolution image at the bottom of the post.
The likeness of the Virgin Mary has appeared on the side of a building along Apia Harbour. Which building? Wait for it. Wait for it. The Congregationalist office building. That’s right. People at the scene are claiming Lady Madonna stamped her image on an awning of the John Williams Building, which is owned and operated by the Christian Congregationalist Church of Samoa. As dusk fell this evening, the crowd seemed to be growing.
On the morning of the Road Switch, as I took a picture of the police officers guarding the intersection near my house, a Samoan drove up and leaned out the window of his car to take a photo with his camera. It was the first indication of how momentous an event the Road Switch was. Walking away from my intersection, I remarked to Phil how rare I thought it was to see a host country national taking photos.
So I knew something was up when, taking the shortcut around the back of the John Williams building, I turned the corner and saw a dozen Samoans looking up into the sky, at least 3 of them taking photos.
It was one of those scenes out of Candid Camera where I found an entire crowd staring off into the distance, so I went and stood with them and stared in the direction they were staring. I have expected Allen Funt to step out from behind some van in the car park.
It took only a moment for me to figure out what all the commotion was about. I love a good spectacle, and what could be a bigger spectacle than the Virgin Mary showing up in Samoa?
Apparitions and visions are a big thing here. When I went with the Catholic youth group from Mulivae out to see the new cathedral (basilica?) on the western side of the island, the priest who accompanied us told detailed accounts of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Portuguese kids and Our Lady of Fatima.
I’ve never seen an apparition, hoax or otherwise, in person. I remember when the lady from the Midwest sold the grilled cheese sandwich with Jesus’ face on eBay. And I remember watching a news story at Marlis’ house a Little Caesar’s ad in which people said they saw the face of Jesus in spaghetti. But never with my own eyes, so today is a big day.
It looks like the rain gutters on the John Williams building leak at certain joints, and water fans out from those spots. The apparition has a similar fanning-out shape, but is darker in colour and slimmer in its fanning.
I find it slightly amusing the image has appeared on the Congregationalist’s building. There are dozens of Catholics milling around the car park. And what statement is Mary making? Is she endorsing the Congregationalists or trying to convert them? Perhaps it’s a call to ecumenicalism?
The security guard who works at the National Bank of Samoa across the street wasn’t convinced. “Maybe someone just drew it on there,” he said.
I hope you’re well. Pictures below.
With pointy arrow.
I was the only one who pointed my camera at the crowd. I think people were weirded out.
Higher resolution image. Click to see it big.
1 year ago