Monday 26 November 2012

‘Miracle’ image draws thousands to church - Anisah Shukry

 According to volunteers at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, thousands have come to see the window pane since it was transferred here from the Sime Darby Hospital last week.

PETALING JAYA: The glass panels bearing the purported image of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ have attracted thousands to the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Klang since it was transferred there last week.

The two window panes from the Sime Darby Medical Centre have been placed in a small hall adjacent to the Gothic-inspired church, where they rest against the wall upon a raised platform and will remain there indefinitely.

During FMT’s visit over the weekend, the entire church was full of Catholics attending service, while others trickled peacefully into the hall to either pray, snap photographs or merely gaze at the panels which are now within comfortable viewing distance.

Outside, the car park was completely full, and many visitors were forced to park alongside the busy road opposite the church. Several Rela personnel were seen managing traffic, while church volunteers patrolled the grounds.

One of the volunteers was Alfred Kandavanam, a retiree who told FMT that the image attracts some 600 people a day to the church, with crowds peaking to over 800 on the weekend.

“Usually, nobody comes here except on Saturday and Sunday. But even on weekends, we have around 500 people.

“But now the number has surpassed 800,” he said, adding that he and the others had begun volunteering at the church to maintain the crowd since the panes’ transfer.

He also estimated that 40% of the visitors over the week were non-Catholics, including Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims.

Pure amazement

According to Kandavanam, the general response of the Catholics who had come so far were pure amazement that such a miracle could happen in their lifetime.

But he said they had not made any preparations should the Catholic church deem the image inauthentic.

“We’ll let the Good Lord take his course,” he added.

A church-goer who wished to be identified only as Henry, however, told FMT he had no doubt the image was an authentic apparition of the Virgin Mary.

“I don’t think it’s necessary for the Catholic Church to authenticate the image because it is up to our own beliefs.

“When I first saw the image at the hospital, it was smoky and unclear. But after a few days and more people prayed, the image of the Virgin Mary slowly emerged and all doubt was erased from my mind,” added the teacher.

Ever since it appeared, he had been commuting to the hospital, and now the church, twice a day just to see the image and pray.

Truly a miracle

Another Catholic, Mary, echoed Henry’s views on the image’s authenticity.

“Some people say that it is just paint stains but paint stains would not be able to depict the blue cloth around her, the shine enveloping her.

“She looks exactly the same as a statue. If it were just paint stains, then how can they appear the same as the statue? It is truly a miracle,” she said.

What further fortified her convictions, said Mary, was the physical symptoms she experienced upon seeing the image for the first time at the Sime Darby Medical Centre.

Gesturing towards her head and shoulders, she said: “When I saw it for the first time, I couldn’t believe it; my whole body felt hot, really hot. It started from the top all the way to the bottom.”

Visitors can continue to view the image from 7am to 10pm daily

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