That’s the Virgin Mary? Christians Must Be Getting Desperate…

It’s a miracle in Rhode Island!

No, not the cross, the thing etched onto the cross. You know, the Virgin Mary:

Some people say they see the outline of the Virgin Mary, whom Christians believe is the mother of God, in the darker etching on the cross. Some say they also see the baby Jesus in Mary’s arms.

“I don’t quite know what it is. I mean, it’s certainly an iconic image on that cross. It’s a water stain of some kind, but it’s pouring rain right now. It’s been pouring rain all day. The cross should be soaking wet and it’s not. There’s some sort of icon, some sort of image on there and it’s very familiar if you’re Catholic,” said Ryan McCarty of North Smithfield.

Yes, “it’s very familiar,” which is to say there’s nothing there but some Catholics are going to make up a whole story around it, anyway. Which I suppose wouldn’t be the first time they’ve done that…

Steve Ahlquist, unlike the local media, points out the obvious pareidolia and has embarrassing video and images of people straining to see the image:

Of course the truth is, as the picture that accompanies this piece shows, that the image on the cross doesn’t look that much like anything, never mind the mother of God. A close look reveals it to be some sort of stain which from far away, with vision blurred, might look like a veiled woman holding something, but up close the vision falls apart.

And so it is with all miracles. The closer you look, the less impressive they are.

By the way, the church in question is called “Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish.”

But I’m sure this isn’t just some sort of lame marketing gimmick…

(Thanks to Tangie for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Yeah, I stopped by there on my way home from work yesterday to do some myth-busting but one lady was literally crying so I couldn’t find it in my heart.

  • Andrew B.

    Doesn’t that look like the lone wanderer from Fallout?

  • 3lemenope

    I am vaguely ashamed of my home state.

  • SeekerLancer

    That video was embarrassing to watch.

  • Timmah

    Annnnnd now I can’t unsee that.

  • C Peterson

    All I see is a long arm giving the big middle finger…

  • Art_Vandelay

    I’m unabashedly ashamed of it. Between this and the Ahlquist shit and everyone having a conniption over the governor calling it a holiday tree…we’re like Georgia of the northeast.

  • 3lemenope

    On the other hand, the governor stood strong on the holiday tree (and was very supportive regarding the Ahlquist situation), and the banner is no longer at Cranston West.

  • rhodent

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think it looks like Jessica Ahlquist.


    I see a penis!

  • viaten

    I know it’s just a figure of speech, but I find it so ironic that people, like the lady at the end, say “I just can’t believe it.” when reacting to religious miracles so as to make them seem all the more miraculous. They’re saying such a thing is normally not believable but don’t want anyone to explicitly say that.

    The lady at the end also says she thought she was “not worthy”. But something like this fixes that? What kind of desperate faith is that?

    In a sense I have more respect for the faith of believers who can dismiss such things as nonsense, even more if they say so openly. But too many of them “know better” than to open their mouths. And priests will spin it in some way so as to not take any definite position.

  • GodlessPoutine

    Darth Vader?

  • GodlessPoutine

    This is so sad. These people are so desperate to see something…

    “You don’t see it as well just looking at it.”

    “And how can anyone spot that?”

    “We don’t know, … that’s the thing… that’s what they were saying, they don’t know…”

    Yeah… you don’t just see it by looking at it.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Because it has to be done.

  • Mitch

    That’s about as amusing as some guy stopping me last night and (true story) saying to me, “god wanted me to remind you to keep your eye on him (god), and that you’re doing well at it.”

    Good for me, I guess.

  • viaten

    There’s a guy who says it “challenge’s your faith”. What does he really mean by that?

  • Stardust0719

    I’m embarrassed to say this is my home state!

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    Not particularly evil or little (subjectively), but it is a thing. One out of three, better than these theists are doing!

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    When did you grow a soul? I call NO TRUE ATHEIST. Shun! Shunnnnnn.

  • Thalfon

    Well, because it’s “evidence” of God’s existence. But as Adams pointed out, if there is evidence of God’s existence, it hence proves that He does not, thus challenging the faith of Christians everywhere.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Ha! Because we have no standard for objective morality, right? I get that all the time.

  • Without Malice

    What’s it look like? It looks like a damn stain on wood. Catholics have got to be the most superstitious people in the entire world. We’d have several Mary sightings in my local area – usually on a tree were a limb has been lopped off, which always leaves an oval or almond shaped scar – and within a day a two Catholics are bringing flowers and candles and falling on their knees to pray to the “Mother of God”. How a being who has been in existence forever could have a mother is anyone’s guess, but Catholics aren’t big on asking questions. I wonder if any of them brought flowers to the dog with Jesus on his butt? Religion makes for such great comedy at times.

  • David

    Congratulations! You got to stare at a dog’s asshole.

  • viaten

    I’d say that it challenges any suppressed doubt you might have and bolsters the faith of believers, as if to say how could a person not believe now.

    But it might be a challenge to faith if one feels compelled to say it’s a miracle when they normally wouldn’t. Not acknowledging it’s a miracle would make a person look like they have less faith. It may be that is where the guy’s statement is coming from. But one could argue that a stronger faith would have no problem dismissing it as a coincidence.


    Looks kind of like slender man.

  • pagansister

    I lived in RI for 18 years, moving away in 2011. This doesn’t surprise me. I taught in a Catholic school—but am not Catholic. RI is a great little State and I must confess to missing it.

  • josh

    i don’t know to me it looks like a stain on some wood! Or……..could it be the grim reaper!

  • 3lemenope

    You’re clearly just in a state of rebellion.

  • Rain

    Don Quixote.

  • the moother

    Yup. Christianity is just a stain. That’s all nothing to see here. Move along.

  • Artor

    Because you really need a brain-numbing level of faith to see Mary in that stain. If you look at it and don’t see a miracle, then your faith has failed the test.

  • more compost

    This is utter bullshit. This is not the Virgin Mary.

    It is clearly Joan of Arc.

  • Kodie

    On the left bar of the cross, I see a minotaur and maybe a swan and kokopeli.


  • Kodie

    And then when you look at the cross, what do you see?

  • Kodie

    We had something like this once on Christmas morning when I was a kid. Symbolism or something. It must have been a Sunday since that’s the only day we got the paper delivered and opened the back door. There was a round shape at head level on the storm door window with a robe-ish amorphous shape to make something of a body, a hood, a cloak or whatever, and it even looked like it was holding a baby. Reminder: secular household, none of this “merracle” (is that kind of like the accent?) shit. It was still weird, we thought, and because it was Christmas Day. Eventually, we figured out, someone pointed out that the frost or condensation on the window in the vague shape of a person was made in part due to the wreath on the door making a circle. And we never noticed it before, but it was there all winter, we just noticed it on Christmas because of the symbolism. Otherwise, it would never occur to anyone to say “that looks like Mary holding baby Jesus!” It was barely the shape of a person. Nobody cried, prayed, fell to their knees, called the media, or anything like that. We opened our presents until whoever it was pointed out the wreath made the shape on the glass, and we all agreed, yeah, that makes the most sense!

    You can basically see whatever you want to see.

  • Kodie

    Yeah, nobody in life ever hassles someone crying for a stupid reason.

    Of course you couldn’t find it in your muscular organ that pumps blood and oxygen through the body to shatter her illusions.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    Rhode Island?

  • 3lemenope


  • onamission5

    I see a robed shadow creature with a prosthetic gun-arm standing on top of a vertical log with snakes wrapped around it, and a fairy family of three approaching from the left.
    Do I win?

  • Dave

    The creator of the universe, that exits outside of time and space, and is omnipotent, and this is how he show us he exists? Maybe he should write a book.

  • Cake


  • ShellyD99

    Ancient miracles: the dead rising, a sea parting, etc. Modern miracles: a strangely shaped water stain. Huh.

  • Jim Jones

    The ghost of Bettie Page. I want it to be the ghost of Bettie Page.

  • stop2wonder

    It may, in fact, be the virgin Mary. But personally, I think it looks like Becky, the girl next door. Or maybe, it’s Crystal, the topless dancer from the club dowtown. I also see a close resemblance to my Aunt Martha. Having said that, I’m going with Suzie, my bank teller.

  • Tobias2772

    Boy, god is a shitty painter.

  • kpax2012

    Looks like the Sith to me.

  • Kristi

    “It’s a water stain of some kind, but it’s pouring rain right now. It’s
    been pouring rain all day. The cross should be soaking wet and it’s not.”

    Or there is a water-proofing sealer applied on that cross so as to slow the water damage process. We do this to houses all the time….. and car windshields (rain-x, ooooohhh…watch the beads of water go UP instead of down!)

    lol, fools.

  • DougI

    I’m just waiting for some guy to recognize Mary in a skidmark in his underwear. Christians will probably still pray to his dirty undies.

  • martinrc

    Its the Virgin Mary from MineCraft maybe.

  • Sam Kay

    Actually, I think it’s Ezio from Assassin’s Creed. It looks like a hooded figure in a cloak, and clearly he has some sort of thick bracer on his arm, surely it must be his hidden blade. Hail Ezio Auditore da Firenze!

  • wmdkitty

    Uhm… am I the only one seeing Slender Man, there?

  • wmdkitty

    I want what you’re smoking.

  • A3Kr0n

    The virgin Mary be on the cross?
    That makes sense.

  • Richard Wade

    It’s good for an artist to explore new media. Mary’s self-portraits with overcooked grilled cheese and high caloric junk foods have been masterful, but artists must keep moving forward to avoid stagnation and self-imitation. There is however always some risk in trying new techniques. Her experimental work with white lime seeping out of urine-drenched concrete overpasses had promise but needed more development, and her ceiling mold series was not well received except by a few devoted fans. Word has it in the gallery circuit that she’s considering using crankcase oil and antifreeze stains on garage floors, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

    She was recently asked if there is any truth to the rumor that she’s going to try some self-portraits using patterns of chewing gum spots on high school pavement in a kind of pointillist effect you can only see from some distance above. To this she said, “Chewing gum spots? That’s disgusting. I have my dignity, you know. Besides, that would be a collaborative project with gum-spitting teenagers, and I prefer to work alone.”

  • Whirlwitch

    Funny how you never see Joe Klein showing up in a water stain on wood.

  • wombat

    I thought it looked a little bit like a Dementor.

  • GodlessPoutine

    You’re right! It’s a miracle!

  • Bikeridinman

    I mean….where are her tits?

  • phantomreader42

    You are not alone.

  • phantomreader42

    If that’s the case, should we be expecting her to explode?

  • shuteme

    I see it I see it. But why is she smoking a cigar? And why is Batman kneeling in front of her trying to peek up her dress? Or perhaps he is just trying to smell her crotch?

  • EvolutionKills

    Well, at least you won’t get hungry staring at the water stained cross. Unlike all of the Jesus and Mary toast/buns/Cheezits/pancakes/Goldfish/Cheetos/etc…

  • Dan Dorfman

    (Sound of sudden, massive humorous exhale)

  • MD

    I see Nosferatu.

  • Nerdsamwich

    Neither are you. Look behind you.

  • phantomreader42

    Behold the true power of the Dark Side of the Force!

  • phantomreader42

    Well, can anyone really say for certain that the virgin Mary WASN’T a Dementor?

  • phantomreader42

    Well, can anyone really say for certain that the virgin Mary WASN’T Nosferatu?

    I mean, reportedly she was a perpetual virgin, which would imply a regenerating hymen, which fits with vampiric regenerative abilities. And she supposedly gave birth to an immortal who shared his blood with his followers…

  • Nails Boneski

    Looks more like the band photo from U2′s ‘The Joshua Tree’ to me. See, they always said that Bono was the second coming, but Christians refused to accept it. I bet they’ll feel quite foolish when they notice.

  • onamission5

    Heh. This is my brain on… no drugs. Well, Advil is a drug but I don’t think it counts!