Eyewitness Report
by Jane Baker


The effect of this apparition has been peaceful, uplifting, and unifying throughout the west central Florida communities. Night after night it was the "big story" at the top of the hour for all the local television newscasts. People of all different ages, races, nationalities and beliefs daily come to pray before Mary. The crowds are orderly, friendly, and loving. There has been no negative reaction to this apparition.

What amazes me is the hush that falls upon the crowd as they look upon the figure. You know it is sacred. Even the policemen directing traffic hour after hour, day after day, are relaxed, pleasant, and wishing everyone a happy holiday. In front of the glass are rows and rows of flowers, candles, food and other gifts to honour Mary. All the money donated at the site has been turned over to local charities. The owner of the building does not care that hundreds, even thousands of people are occupying his parking lot. He does not care what effect it will have on his business. He says he is blessed and everyone is welcome to see Mary day or night. Yes, you can even see it in the dark. The city planners in charge of traffic control are calling their task-force "The Miracle Management Team".

I will be returning to the site in a couple of days. It is awesome. I don't know which I find more compelling - the vision of Mary or the transforming effect on the masses.

1997 Update

"Last Christmas, it was a worldwide sensation. Now, it glows as a shrine: Believers call it the Miracle on Drew Street. ěThe two-story, rainbow-coloured image that bears a resemblance to the Virgin Mary still shimmers on an office building now leased by, of all things, Ugly Duckling Car Sales." So begins an article by Martin Merzer of Knight-Ridder News Service updating the story of the Clearwater, Florida, image. The landlord of the office building has set aside a parking lot for those who visit the site, while others have contributed five meditation benches and a wooden pew. This amid the din of passing traffic, beside a car wash and gas station. ěSomeone told me the other day that itís going to become a permanent shrine," said Jim Cascio, an assistant to landlord Michael Krizmanich. ěI think itís pretty much that already."

Although the crowds that reached 80,000 a day in December 1996 have dwindled, visitors still come to kneel before the green, blue, violet and yellow image. They light candles and deposit rosaries."Itís a chosen space," said Jo Ann Metropoulos, who visits the site weekly. "ěThere has to be some reason why itís here."

But scientists do not have the answer. They say the 35-foot-tall, 50-foot-wide image was created from a chemical reaction between rain and metallic elements within the windows smoky coating. But they cannot explain the flawless symmetry of the image, first noticed by passersby more than a year ago.

"How can nine panes of glass come together so perfectly?" asked Cascio. They also cannot explain this: last spring, someone threw an acidicsubstance on part of the image. For a few days, the image lost its artistic precision. Then, overnight, the scar seemed to heal itself.

Within the small sanctuary of meditation benches and a pew set up near the building, someone has placed a sign: "Thank you, Blessed Mother." (Source: Knight-Ridder News Service, reported in Share International January-February 1998)

Glass experts examine image

Glass experts who happened to be meeting near the "Virgin Mary" building, examined the window where the image is seen, but failed to explain it completely. For two days, scientists and manufacturers who were gathering at a nearby convention visited the site and debated the possible origins. After some discussion, they concluded that the image is the result of "corrosion of metallic elements of the glass's coating" - a common process in certain types of glass that have aged.

But the glass experts could not explain why the rainbow-coloured swirls form the image of the Virgin Mary. "We're not able to explain how the shape appeared or why it appeared," said George Pecoraro, a scientist with a glass manufacturing company. "It could be an accident or maybe it's divine intervention." Carlo Pantano, a professor of materials science and engineering at Pennsylvania State University, said: "We can try to explain it, but not who controlled it or why it happened here at this time." ( Source: Associated Press; reported in Share International, June 1997 )

Vandalised image repairs itself

It has been recently reported in the news that the image had been marred after vandals threw an unknown liquid onto the building. However the image appears to have healed itself and now looks just as it did in December, when hundreds of thousands of people began flocking to the site. Some are calling this latest incident another miracle. ( Source: Miami Herald, June 27, 1997 )

The rainbow-coloured image of the Virgin Mary on an office building in Clearwater, Florida, has recovered from an attack by vandals. In June someone threw an unknown liquid on the shape, staining it. But following two days of heavy thunderstorms, the blemishes disappeared, and the image looks as it did last December, when hundreds of thousands of people began flocking to the site.

"We heard she was healing herself.... It looks like it," said one visitor. The transformation "seems to have been coming on for a couple of weeks," said Jim Cascio, spokesman for the building's owner. "It seems back to its original colours." (Source: Associated Press; reported in Share International September 1997)








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