Pilgrims say they saw visions of Virgin Mary


LUBBOCK, Texas -- Pilgrims shouting, 'See her, see her,' say they saw visions of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ in the clouds during an evening mass, but the pastor of the church where they gathered said real miracles should touch the soul, not the body.

The mass outside St. John Neumann Catholic Church, held on the annual feast of the Assumption of Mary, had to be interrupted at least three times as thousands of celebrants began crying and screaming that they saw images of Mary and Jesus in the early evening sky Monday.


Leaders of St. John today were expected to begin sorting through photographs and other documents needed as proof of the sightings.

However, Monsignor Joseph James, pastor of the west Texas church, said the real miracles are in the people's hearts.

'The Blessed Mother said, 'I am not preparing you for the feast of the Assumption. I am preparing you for eternity.' What's important is what people take home,' he said.


'They could see 1,000 miracles and go to hell.'

A crowd of as many as 15,000 people, who were drawn to the church by stories Mary was speaking to three parishioners, shrieked, cried and pointed to the sky at images in the clouds some saw, but some did not.

'At first I couldn't see anything, but I prayed a Hail Mary,' said Bertha Curley of Alexandria, Va., who said she saw a veil lift from the sky to reveal a rose color, the figure of Jesus Christ and three rings she said stood for the Holy Trinity.

'I can't say I saw Mary, but we're quite pleased,' Curley said. 'She put on a good show.'

As the clouds moved across the sky, members of the audience screamed, 'See her, see her.'

'I saw the pathway to heaven,' yelled another man.

Kyle Broderson, a lay church official, echoed what many pilgrims said.

'I saw a streak of light shoot from the east. I saw the Blessed Virgin Mary in the sun and a rainbow around the sun and a red moon. The crowd was golden,' he said.

Several people said their rosaries turned to gold in the twilight. When the light faded, however, they returned to their silver coloring.


Delia Morales walked through the crowd weeping and pressing her rosary against the faces of young children.

One woman howled and collapsed and was rushed to the hospital by Red Cross workers who said she was having heart trouble.

Walter Hobbs of the Red Cross said rescue workers treated several hundred pilgrims and took at least four to the hospital by ambulance because of heat-related ailments.

Some said they saw visions in the clouds. Some staring at the sun said they saw it dance and pulsate.

Others looked to their companions and said, 'They're just looking at clouds.'

Lance Drager, a member of the West Texas Society to Advance Rational Thought, said psychology explains many of the perceived miracles.

'There's a lot of psychological literature that indicates people see thing they have a strong psychological need to see,' he said.

Drager, who came to independently verify any miracles, said he saw nothing in the sky.

'It was pretty but that's all it was,' he said.

He said his group will continue to follow events at the church.

The gathering at St. John Neumann, the smallest of Lubbock's six Roman Catholic churches, was a response to more than two dozen 'messages' three church members said they have received from the Virgin Mary during Monday and Wednesday prayer meetings since February.


The three parishioners said Mary told them that physically and spiritually afflicted should be at church Monday, and in one message said, 'Look for miracles and healings.'

At least two people got up from wheelchairs in the audience, one to cries of 'She walks, she walks.' Both, however, said they had always been able to walk but were confined to wheelchairs because of other ailments.

The pilgrims were from as far away as California and Virginia.

The crowds at regular church services have been growing steadily since March when members said they first heard the messages and a number of church members have said they saw visions or smelled roses during services.

Many of those who came Monday arrived early in the morning, but the crowd reached its peak just after a four-hour mass started at about 6 p.m.

Some 200 pilgrims were still at the church after midnight, some two hours after mass ended.

Lines to confession and for individual consultation with priests formed as they had earlier in the day. Other lines formed at the statues of Mary, where pilgims laid flowers or lighted candles.

The mass was said at a makeshift altar atop the church office building.


Only three visitations by the Virgin Mary have been authenticated by the Vatican: in Guadalupe, Mexico, in 1531, in Lourdes in 1858 and in Fatima in 1917.

The feast of the Assumption of Mary was established by the Roman Catholic church in 1950. It marks the 'entrance of Mary, body and soul, into heaven.' This year, the date also marks the final day of the year that Pope John Paul II declared the church's Marian year, celebrating the veneration of Mary.

Latest Headlines