Window image awes faithful
By Elizabeth Boch, Globe Correspondent, 6/13/2003
To the faithful, it is nothing short of a miracle, a holy apparition worth a pilgrimage to Milton Hospital.
To hospital officials, it's merely a five-year-old coincidence, caused in part by a leaky window seal.
A steady stream of people came to the hospital yesterday to glimpse what was described as the image of the Virgin Mary in a second-story office window. But the crowds of curiosity seekers and devout pilgrims - many of whom lingered to pray - packed the parking lots, clogged traffic on nearby streets, and strained the patience of hospital authorities.
Polly Petrie, 67, of Cape Cod, drove from her home yesterday morning to see the image for herself after hearing a report on the Wednesday evening news. Running a rosary through her fingers, she said the Blessed Mother came to Milton Hospital because the country - and the world - is in turmoil.
''I'm close to Our Lady anyway, but today we really need her more than ever because of the sad situation that the world is in,'' she said, adding that her four children were delivered at Milton Hospital. ''We're all really looking for a little bit of hope.''
The window, located near the rear of the Eye Health Services clinic, is situated near a wall inside the building that blocks light from an eye examination room. As a result, light reflecting off the wall makes the image visible from a distance.
The company that installed the window told the hospital that sealant around that window ruptured about five years ago, allowing heat and moisture to seep in. The condensation apparently produced a curious pattern that some said resembled the Virgin Mary. Word reached the faithful after a doctor said he clearly saw the image.
Liz Osborne, business manager for Eye Health Services, said the area near the window has been crowded for the past few days as people wait in line to see it and touch the exterior wall. Despite the swarms of people bringing flowers, rosaries, and balloons, she said business has not been interrupted.
Osborne said she does not believe the image is a holy apparition, but ''it's what people wish it to be.''
The Archdiocese of Boston declined to comment on the image yesterday.
On Wednesday, traffic near the hospital was backed up to a standstill at some points, and two of the hospital parking lots were packed or overflowing throughout the afternoon. Guards directed cars around traffic cones set up next to the wall, and some people parked on the grass.
''I see a lot of people coming,'' said hospital guard Augustine Edomwonyi. ''A lot of people who come to the hospital for the doctors have nowhere to park. These people aren't here for them, just for the picture.''
A hospital spokeswoman said officials want to be respectful of those who want to visit, but ''it's been a continuous stream of cars'' and access to the hospital has been blocked.
Nearly everyone who saw the window agreed the image seemed to be the Virgin Mary cradling her son. But she was standing either among clouds, on a mountaintop, or astride a globe, depending on one's perspective.
William and Kaitlyn Alzened, 6 and 7, came from Quincy with their mother and placed a plain white balloon with the message, ''Blessed Mary please help me and be with us always'' written in blue ink. ''
Some visitors had seen similar apparitions before, and wanted to confirm this one.
Eddie Bowler, 8, came with his mother and his children's prayer group from St. Paul's Parish in Hingham. ''God works miracles, and I think this is one of them,'' he said. ''He wants to show people he really does exist.''
Last summer, the boy said, his family arrived in Bosnia to visit six visionaries who began communicating with the Virgin Mary in 1981. They also visited Clearwater, Fla., where in 1994 a multi-colored bust image of the Virgin Mary appeared on the window of a bank.
Deborah Anne Mason of Medford clutched and kissed four rosaries - one of them an antique silver set that belonged to her father. She said she was skeptical at first, but saw the image in the window and felt ''like a suspension, a dizziness, an unbelievable happiness.''
This story ran on page B4 of the Boston Globe on 6/13/2003.
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