The Virgin Mary appears in a New Jersey tree

July 15, 2012 • 10:47 am

To continue with today’s theme of American religious insanity, we have a new report from of an apparition of Mary appearing in a tree in New Jersey (the town is called “West New York”).

The image, on a tree near the intersection of 60th Street and Bergenline Avenue, has been causing a lot of commotion as people, religious or not, try to decide what to make of it. . .

After her shift ended at the nearby McDonald’s at 5 p.m. yesterday, Angie Maticorena said she attempted to see the picture of the Virgin Mary but couldn’t get close enough due to all the people.

“We got a lot of business,” she said, laughing.

“It’s really cool,” said Angus Kennedy from Long Island, who was in town for work. “As you keep looking at it, you start to feel something.”

Kennedy noted that he got goose bumps from looking at the image.

Yesterday, Newark Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness [JAC: I am not making up that name] said the image is likely “just some discoloration” that resembles Mary.

“But if it helps people to be stronger in their faith, then it is a good thing,” Goodness said.

Maybe it’s good for the damn church, but not so much for the deluded believers.  Have a look and judge for yourself (photos by Katharine Egli for The Jersey Journal):

The tree-hole has gotten believers juiced up because of its supposed resemblance to the world-famous icon of Our Lady of Guadelupe, an icon of Mary in Mexico City that commemorates a peasant’s religious vision in 1530, leading to the construction of a cathedral on the site. Here’s the icon:

And the brouhaha:

Here’s a video news report:

There’s a gallery of 38 photos if you have the stomach for it.

90 thoughts on “The Virgin Mary appears in a New Jersey tree

      1. Yup. I thought the tree’d got a vagina and it’s no virgin. I’m betting goddidit.

        Stupidity never ceases to amaze me – don’t these people know what scarred trees look like?

  1. Poor sods.

    It’s so sad that they haven’t read any sophistimacated theology. No true™ Christian would be so silly as to venerate a tree.

  2. This post was mis-titled. It should have been titled, “Why America is doomed.”

    This kind of insanity is oh too common in our 21st-century America. As long as hoards of people are prone to this kind of really stupid behavior, we’re doomed to forever remain a backwards outpost among civilized countries.

    1. It isn’t just America, though. This kind of looniness is highly prevalent in many Latin nations where the RCC holds a strong sway. Although our own indigenous population is hardly immune to seeing ‘Mary/Jesus/angels, and what-have-you’ in everyday objects, there’s not much doubt that immigration from South America, the Central Americas and Mexico have contributed pretty significantly to an increase in the number of these stories hitting the popular news media.

      Nothing against immigrants–it’s simply that in Catholic-dominated countries this is not uncommon, and the inhabitants often carry their superstitions with them across the borders.

      Hell, I’d imagine my own Irish ancestors probably brought along plenty of this kind of hooey with them when they emigrated to the USA.

      1. I wish I could say that you offer is true from my own personal experience. I’ve witnessed the same hooey w/ RCC members who are nearly 100%, born and raised Americans living in Cleveland and Pittsburgh. A few years back parishioners of a local RCC said that they witnessed a virgin mary statue affixed to the side of their church “weeping.” Hoards of morons descended on the statue to kneel and pray before it. When the Pastor of the church came out and told them that the water was coming from a leaking water pipe and asked them to move on, they revolted, laid themselve down in the street and forced the local police to carry them off!

        I think we expect stupidtitious morons from impoverished backwaters like Mex, Honduras and Guatland to act like this but not so from indigenous gringos who have navigated through high school in the so-called “greatest country on Earth.”

        We are so screwed.

        1. FYI it’s “hordes”.

          A horde is a large group of people.

          A hoard is a pile of treasure under a dragon (or a pile of junk in your garage).

  3. Holy pareidolia, Batman!

    …and I still get a kick out of how many Catholics adorn their buildings with giant vulvas…or, for that matter, the numbers of Christians with “Jesus fish” on their cars. One might wonder how they could miss such obvious and ancient symbolism…until one realizes who we’re dealing with and their attitudes towards not just sex but women in particular.


    1. Theologically, most couldn’t tell the difference between the “Holy Ghost” and a Scooby Doo villain and “symbols” are usually the work of the Devil or the evil Masons or maybe just the plot to a Dan Brown novel so I’m not at all surprised by that.

  4. Not only is that tree scar a dead ringer for a vagina, the icon it resembles is a dead ringer for a vagina.

  5. “a peasant’s religious vision in 1530”

    As convincing as that may be, how come it never is “a busload of Danish physicists, armed with cellphone cameras observed a miracle in down-town Copenhagen last Sunday at noon”

    1. Aaargh! This brings a whole new dimension to ‘God sees everything you do”, doesn’t it? 🙁

    2. The Jesus on a toilet seat story has a great title: “Royal Flush: Jesus’ Image on Toilet Seat.” What I don’t get is why Jesus and his mom show themselves in weird obscure places. If they have something to say they sure have a weird way of saying it.

  6. I find this kind of thing to be very sad. Not all of the people who are venerating this rather mundane tree are stupid. So many highly intelligent people who had huge potential for personal acheivement and the possibility of improving the world, have had their potential wasted. Catholicism has reduced them to tree worshipping morons.

    1. And just what is wrong with worshipping trees? If more people worshipped trees, the world would be a better place. The Amazon rainforest would be a lot less endangered, for a start.

      It’s the people who worship invisible flying psychopaths who are the problem.

  7. Good grief, that’s gotta be about the lamest pareidolic Mary-image I’ve seen yet. I’ve got a pile of cedar boards that have been lying out behind the shed for several years now — they’ve probably got a few dozen Jesuses or Marys weathered into them by now. I could probably make a mint selling them off to the gulliblefaithful.

  8. I’m glad lots of folk got the minge references in to save me the bother.

    There was a guy in the pub last night who looked just like Jesus. The only problem was that he seemed to turn the beer into water.

  9. The really sad thing is that the tree doesn’t change its behavior over this silliness – it displays higher IQ than the religious gathering.

  10. All we need is a dog with Jesus is his ass to pee on the tree, and Mary will be weeping (music swells)…’cause it’ll be a mother and child reunion…

  11. Every time I see a story about these kinds of apparitions, I think of the Gabriel García Márquez short story “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”: When Pelayo and Elisenda find a very old man with enormous wings in their yard, Elisenda decides to charge an entrance fee to see the angel. The family becomes rich and builds a mansion with the money they have collected.

    Someone or some organization has put up barriers around the tree and I bet someone or some organization is going to try to make money from this.

  12. So, if I’m understanding all the vulva comments correctly, what has appeared on the tree is not all of the virgin Mary, but just one small part of her.

  13. I once had Jesus appear on my car window, long hair, a beard and the crown of thorns. Three days later the rain washed the bird shit away and he was gone. Explain that!

  14. Yesterday, Newark Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness said the image is likely “just some discoloration” that resembles Mary.

    “But if it helps people to be stronger in their faith, then it is a good thing,” Goodness said.

    Doesn’t this say everything about religion and its spokesmen? We don’t care about the truth of what people believe. They can believe in the tooth fairy as far as we care–just so long as it strengthens our hold over the poor fools.

  15. Well, I could go for the cheap shot and say, “for Goodness sake”, but I think, “holy crap” will do. The outline- yeah, maybe. But nothing else in there that even closely resembles a human features or form. Now if someone came along with a wood-burning iron…

  16. Someone needs to put some sealant in that wound before the tree gets some kind of parasite or fungus or something.

    What are these people thinking? Don’t they know anything about plants?

  17. In India, the Church is not nearly so benign against would be scoffers of their stupidity. Sanal Edamaruku, an Indian rationalist had the temerity to expose a local Church in Mumbai which was touting a miracle about water dripping from a crucifixion statue. The Church, shall we say, was not amused. There was a live televised debate in which the priest threatened legal action under Indian hate speech laws (for the “crime” of exposing a religious miracle), and on the advice of his lawyers, Sanal has had to flee the country to avoid getting arrested. I’m sure there is more to the story than meets the eye, since the police in Mumbai are not really known for acting against real hate speech crimes. Sanal’s activities have probably earned him a lot of enemies among the priestly class of all religions, and this class indirectly holds a lot of political clout through their “devotees”.

    For what it is worth, here is a relevant excerpt from the Indian constitution:

    51A. Fundamental duties It shall be the duty of every citizen of India
    (h) to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;

    The designers of that document, if they were alive today, would surely be “dripping” saline water from their eyes, and there would be nothing miraculous about it.

  18. I think you must be a bunch of crypto-Catholics. If it’s a vulva, it could be Mary’s vulva, all set for the Virgin Birth… But, let’s be frankly evolutionary about this, human genitalia are very variable from one ethnic group to another. Lots of things could look like a vulva. (Think “butterfly labia” for example.)

    Anyway, I’m not a Catholic. It doesn’t look much like any part of a virgin to me. Looks more like a condom.

  19. Damn, my wife walked in just when I scrolled to the tree picture, and whacked me on the head.

  20. Google “Vagina Mary” and look under Images for an even closer resemblance to the Guadalupe icon!

  21. If I’m not mistaken, West New York is pretty much an old Italian neighborhood.

    So…well…color me not surprised in the least.

    And yes, it certainly does look like the vajayjay. Deep symbolic meaning.

  22. And one gentleman had the cheek to go down on it. Think about the children!

    Shouldn’t the Newark Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness be arrested?

  23. I’m wondering whether this hysterical pregnancy … oops, no, I mean hysterical religiosity is in any way connected to the recent news about West New York’s mayor and his son:

    who according to the US Justice Dept hacked into the mayor’s political opponent.

    (Re West New York, a few decades ago there was a terrific film, based on a true story, about the West New York police chief who was played by Sylvester Stallone. To my surprise, he was really good in the role. I put this comment in parens because it’s irrelevant. Although so is the virgin mary.)

  24. The Guadaloupe Virgin itself was considered to be an actual divine image that magically appeared on the cloth, even though it’s obviously painted on.

  25. Why do none of these kooks ask themselves why Mary uses her power to (poorly) project her image in water stains or toasted bread or tree bark instead of doing something really worthwhile like providing food to starving people or giving all dementia patients their sensibilities back? They feel good about worshipping gods who perform bad amateur parlor tricks while suffering continues? I’d want my god to be more impressive than that.

  26. Makes me think of the poor guy in India who pointed out to gullible parishioners that a leaky water pipe was supplying their holy water. The local bishop has asked the fuzz to arrest him for blasphemy, but, I believe he has fled the country.

    1. Technically, it is not blasphemy (which is not really prohibited in India), but “insult(ing) the religios beliefs” of a class of Indian citizens. The relevant law in question, Article 295A of the Indian Penal Code, is a relic of the British era, and just like an anti-homosexuality law of similar antiquity whose constitutionally was recently successfully challenged in the Indian Supreme Court, has been challenged in the Courts as being unconstitutional. I hope this challenge succeeds too.

      The law in its entirety reads:

      Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.— Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

      1. “Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious or religious beliefs.— Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.”

        WOW! If the Christian Taliban ever gets such a thing passed here there would be a bunch of folks who comment here languishing away in some prison somewhere. We could launch clandestine campaigns, postering “FREE THE WEIT 500!” in the dead of night, and trying to break our fellow blasphemers out by day.

      2. Does this mean that books like WEIT, god is not great, and The God Delusion are all illegal in India?

        1. No they are not. If they actually took this particular law to the letter, they have to ban many of the major Indian epics too. And all of the Jain and Buddhist mythology (which are rather critical of many orthodox Vedic rites). And the Edicts of Ashoka, which are openly critical of sacrificial rituals (ironically, the national emblem of India is taken from one of these edicts). And the works of Periyar who eclipses all of the books you quote in his severity towards orthodox religion, and is (ironically) almost revered as a saint in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

          Last but not least, the Constitution itself would appear to be in conflict, which openly states that laws can be made to proscribe religious activities in the interests of “morality, health, and the integrity of the nation.” (if I remember my civics correctly).

    1. Now if “they” want to put the words to us, that would be the way. [“They” is J.C. and his mom, who seem to have very primitive ways of demanding our attention, appearing at random on toilet seats, toast, dog butts, and trees].

  27. She must be serious this time! Virgin Mary appears in yet another tree – with the same imagery as before!

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