Thursday, 9 June 2011
Strange, but true? A couple from El Paso believe that Our Lady of Pellevoisin started appearing in their back garden last Saturday
Now, as a norm, I take stories like this with a very big pinch of salt. As a Catholic, the last Heavenly vision that I am compelled to believe is contained in the Book of Revelation. But, having said that, I am also sure that Our Lord, his Blessed Mother and some saints and angels have appeared to people throughout the ages. Like many Catholics, I recognise Our Lady of Lourdes and other apparitions that have been verified and authorised by the Church. Also, like many of my fellow believers, I know that prudence is the watch-word when it comes to alleged supernatural visions - even if some of these cases are extremely fascinating!
Last Saturday, Alex Guillen from in El Paso (Texas) was celebrating his 50th birthday with his wife, Nancy, and some friends. The couple have a statue dedicated to Our Lady in their garden - which they call "Mary's Garden." From the footage below, they seem like a genuinely devout family, from an ordinary Latino background.
It appears that during the birthday celebrations a strange light was seen coming from outside. When the couple and their guests went to investigate, they saw what appeared to be an image of Our Lady (I must confess that it wasn't that clear to me) imprinted on their garden wall. The local TV station sent a news crew to film the event, whose cameraman caught the "apparition" as it appeared to become clearer throughout the night. I think you'll agree that this part of the footage is quite strange, to say the least!
Needless to say, many people began turning up to witness the strange phenomenon. As they took photos of the incident, it seems that some saw other bizarre things, too - such as demonic images and a figure that looked like Our Lord. Nancy Guillen describes a typically devilish "goat's head" pattern on what she believes to be Our Lady's mantle. Apparently, the number "5" is also visible - though it just looked like a shadow to me, as did the supposed skull that someone claimed to have witnessed.
Nancy spent the weekend searching for images our Our Lady on the internet, specifically looking for examples of where the Virgin Mary had appeared accompanied by demonic characters. She eventually came across the image of the alleged apparition of Our Lady of Pellevoisin, which is claimed to have occurred in a small French town in 1876. According to Nancy Guillen this image of Our Lady corresponds to the one found on her garden wall. Unfortunately for her, though, the visions at Pellevoisin were never authenticated by the Church, and successive local ordinaries have remained silent on the matter. Having said that, Pope Leo XIII did approve an Archconfraternity of Mother All Merciful of Pellevoisin in 1894 (see Catholic Culture).
Whatever happened in the El Paso garden seems to have given Alex and Nancy Guillen, and their numerous friends and neighbours, a great amount of comfort and joy. It also appears that, as many have already commented on another news item, the local area is known for its social problems and could therefore do with the Virgin Mary's protection against demonic forces.
What are we to make of apparitions and alleged visions like the one in El Paso? As we know many of these phenomena seem to cause more problems than they solve. Some surely must be the result of over-active imaginations or trickery, whilst others sometimes are genuine visits from Our Lady, granted by God for the salvation of souls. Of course, still other such events, especially the ones that seem to cause disobedience and dissent from the Magisterium, come from the "father of lies" and the "sower of confusion" himself.
It is important to stress that the Church has not, as far as I know, even started to investigate this latest phenomenon. Therefore, until the local bishop approves the vision it might be more prudent to shy away from this strange event, rather than allow oneself to be attached to something that could eventually prove to be dangerous.
Have a look at the news item above, and let me know what you think!
Update: Here is a follow-up news item, again on KTSM News Channel 9, which shows how pilgrims, including nuns, are now making their way to the El Paso home. This particular report is actually quite a beautiful portrayal of simple faith.
[Image: The supposed apparition of Our Lady of Pellevoisin; source: Mary Pages]