On Good Friday the Ursuline Chapel of the National Shrine of Or Lady of Prompt Succor was one of my stops on the nine churches pilgrimage that I wrote about previously. And here I wanted to see the Ursuline Shadow.
When I entered the church was dark and I could see several people up near the altar railing with cameras. Some were kneeling and some just standing and looking. They were there to get a glimpse of and to ponder what many believe to be the visage of Jesus.
As I approached the altar I could see to the left a column with a shadow on it that looks to be a face upturned looking at the altar. There is no mistaking this. You don’t have to look at this funny or turn your head any which way.
The outline of a face is clear. Looking up I could see one of the spotlights near the ceiling shining through a wrought iron chandelier. There is no question that this is what is causing the shadow. If you look at the shadow long enough you can see the outline of the chandelier.
The Ursuline Shadow – Divine Visage in a New Orleans Church
Now, I’m not one who believes that miracles happened only hundreds of years in the past and that there are no miracles today. I believe miracles are everywhere. I’m one who takes to heart the words of the song in the the musical Flower Drum Song in which A Hundred Million Miracles Are Happening Every Day. Is this shadow on the column a miracle? Well, certainly it would have to fall into the unusual category. We hear about the image of Jesus showing up in a piece of toast or mold on the wall. Would those fall into this category? I’m inclined to think not.
It’s an interesting story at how this was discovered. A student a few weeks ago was praying fervently in the chapel asking for a sign from God. Then she saw this clear image on the column and took that as the sign she was looking for and told of it to one of her teachers. And this happened during Lent when Christians’ thoughts are on the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.
So was this image already there but no one noticed it, was it noticed for a long time but no one thought anything of it, or did it for some strange reason suddenly become evident? Does any of that even matter?
What’s obvious is there is a shadow, a visage of what appears to be Jesus on a column that became known during Lent. It seems to have fascinated and inspired people and proven, as Christians believe, that Jesus is still very present with us in the world. Perhaps there are no accidents, no mistakes and everything occurs for a reason. It makes me think of Shakespeare’s famous line from Hamlet: There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
The Ursuline Shadow remains and believers flock to see it. How the shadow got there is no mystery. Why it’s there in the perfect obvious form that it is and at this time of year is.
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