Monday, March 16, 2009

Christ is in the Pleats

The latest manifestation of Christ has appeared in the pleats of a seat cushion. Last week parishioners at a Roman Catholic church on the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean noticed an image that appeared to be the face of Jesus in the folds of the cushion, prompting widespread celebration of the image as a sign from God.

Church officials limited access to the Jesus-Misericordieux church in eastern Saint-Andre's Cambuston district to a few minutes per visitor as traffic in the area ground to a halt.

Believers and curious onlookers pulled out cameras to take pictures of the cushion attached to the priest's chair.

Antoinette, an 82-year-old parishioner, said the face was a "divine phenomenon" as tears welled up her eyes.

"This church is a holy site," added Lise-May, another worshipper.

So many vistors arrived at the church from all across the island to view the cushion and take photographs of the face that the church put up four large tents on Sunday to accomodate everyone who wished to attend Mass.

A group of about 30 parishioners who had joined a Christian ceremony ahead of the Easter holiday had been the first to notice the particular setting of the cushion.

"This is not a miracle, it's a sign of God," said parish priest Daniel Gavard.

I'm not sure what the technical distiction is between a "miracle" and a "sign" according to the Roman Catholic Church, but I can say that as a magician I would love to investigate an actual paranormal image of Jesus. Unfortunately these phenomena are the most commonly reported "signs" simply because the folds of a cushion or clusters of clouds or even the burns on a slice of toast are random enough that every so often a pattern will emerge that suggests a certain image. Once an interpretation for such an image is suggested, human perception tends to work in such a way that you see what you expect to see.

I wonder how long it will be before the local excitement dies down and the cushion winds up on eBay. Given the past history of such items, it could probably raise a lot of money for the church.

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1 comment:

Suecae Sounds said...

The human mind often fills in the blanks. Connects the dots in the manner it sees fit. This is both the beauty of it, and the reason why these kind of findings should be regarded with healthy skepticism.