As hundreds of the Valley's Hispanic community gathered to pay homage to the holy yucca they believe resembles Our Lady of Guadalupe, one gringo stared at the curiously twisted dead branch and merely shook his head. "I wish I had the mind of a Mexican man," he muttered. "Then maybe I could understand this."
What the naysayer failed to realize was that heaven on earth--or at least visions of it--is not just for Hispanics. In fact, you don't even have to be religious . . . How else to explain this collection of visitation rites that run the gamut from The King to The King of Kings? During a one-month period in 1969, over 50,000 religious rubberneckers pilgrimaged to Port Neches, Texas, to take a gander at the "Screen Door Savior"--an "eerie outline" of Jesus that appeared on the back entrance to a 73-year-old woman's home. Although a correspondent from Time magazine reported that the image appeared to be a facial profile of a Christ-like man, other observers claimed the discolored plastic mesh more closely resembled JFK or Martin Luther King.
According to an Arizona Republic story, a Jordanian woman was literally swept off her feet last October when the Blessed Mother appeared to her during foot surgery. Following the mind-boggling vision, the startled patient's body reportedly broke out in a rash of "mysterious crosses."
"It's the work of God. I was told that in a dream." So said a Tennessee woman who was awestricken last year upon discovering that the face of Jesus appeared on the door of her General Electric upright freezer whenever her neighbors turned on their porch light. And while the chilling visage received national news coverage and even inspired a song ("Porchlight Jesus"), some curiosity- seekers who flocked to see the mobile- home miracle remained skeptical. Said one doubting Thomas, "When the Good Lord comes, He won't come on a major appliance."
Phoenix secretary Ramona Barreras was preparing a Mexican dinner for her family one day in 1977 when she inadvertently whipped up some real mealtime magic: the image of Jesus on a freshly grilled flour tortilla. As hundreds flocked to her home to gape at the glorious griddlecake (subsequently preserved in shellac), Barreras revealed plans for an as-yet-unproduced motion picture about her menu miracle.
In January 1978, after a banana split-and-Dreamsicle celebration commemorating what would have been Elvis Presley's 43rd birthday, a Massachusetts divorcee was amazed to discover The King's likeness embedded in the solid walnut grain of her pantry door. Later interviewed by the author of "Elvis After Life," the flabbergasted hausfrau couldn't imagine why she had never noticed the visage before but theorized that the vision was a signal that "life goes on."
"It doesn't seem right to eat toast imprinted with pentagrams and crosses," say a couple in an unidentified U.S. city who have resisted the urge to toss out their toaster. The satanic appliance regularly spews out slices of bread emblazoned with upside-down crucifixes--no matter which way the bread is inserted. During a 1987 interview with the Sun, a grocery-store tabloid, the owner of the demonic bread-brander observed, "It still makes good toast, so we're not about to get rid of it."
While viewing videotapes of the space shuttle MDBUChallenger disaster that claimed seven lives in 1986, Kennedy Space Center medic Debi Hull was astounded to spot Jesus' face in the clouds and smoke surrounding the burning wreckage. Fearing that perhaps she was simply overstressed (earlier that day she had witnessed the tragedy live while sitting with the victims' families), Hull later replayed the tapes for co-workers. "Debi didn't need to point out the face to anyone," one co-worker told Omni magazine. "It definitely looked like Christ's face in the clouds." "When the good Lord comes, He won't come on a major appliance.