The nice thing about the Virgin Mary is that she only shows up where she’s really useful – tortillas, cloud formations, cheese sandwiches, tree trunks, even a used condom (though the latter was probably a joke). Now she has taken up at least temporary residence on a bedroom wall in the Membertou First Nation, Nova Scotia, while the bedroom’s usual occupant has generously moved out in order to give the distinguished visitor some privacy. Privacy, that is, except for the roughly two thousand worshipful viewers who have tramped through the ex-boudoir over the last two weeks, and a small but faithful congregation holding daily prayer meetings in that blessed impromptu shrine.
In her current manifestation, the Mother of God is about 30 cm tall, a rather fuzzy robed figure who glows whitely in the dark. Some visitors even report seeing her move. Nasty-minded skeptics may already be trying to remember how to spell “pareidolia” (I looked it up), but I am not so sure about that in this case, for two reasons.
One reason is the convenient timing. The local Catholic church, to which the homeowner belongs, is scheduled to close its doors forever in June on account of diminishing membership. Since Mary came to Membertou, attendance at mass has picked up, and a mini-revival in faith appears to be taking place. Believers could maintain that the Virgin came on her own initiative, to support the local Catholics; skeptics might wonder if she needed a lot of help getting there.
The other reason is the discoloured rectangle visible on the wall around the figure in some photos. Anyone who has ever done a wall stencil, for example, knows how important it is not to spray too much adhesive on the back of the stencil – otherwise, you’re at risk of leaving residue on the wall, perhaps damaging the paint, and maybe even having to touch up the paint job.
I’m not accusing anyone, mind you. And there may be other reasonabe explanations. But it would not surprise me to learn that somebody not a million miles from Membertou got craft supplies for Christmas, perhaps including some spray adhesive and a jar of white glow-in-the-dark paint…..