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Parishioners say statue closed its eyes

By SHEILA MULLAN

PITTSBURGH -- The curious and the faithful alike flocked Easter Sunday to Holy Trinity Catholic Church, where parishioners reported that the eyes on a plaster statue of Jesus that originally were open have mysteriously closed.

The closing was first noticed after the evening communion service Good Friday at the church in the Pittsburgh suburb of Ambridge, parishioners said Sunday.

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Pittsburgh diocese officials refused comment, saying they needed to further investigate the matter. Rev. Ron Lengwin said the church proceeds with 'great caution in such cases because ultimately our faith does not depend on them.'

Crowds of people dropped by the church, as well as the usual Easter throngs, said the fatigued pastor, the Rev. Vincent Cvitkovic.

'They've been stopping by all day,' Cvitkovic said. 'People have been coming since we opened the doors at 8:30 a.m. It's a Sunday and I'm supposed to be resting.

'It's caused consternation within my life,' he said. 'I'm not sleeping because the phone is ringing. I've been getting two hours of sleep.'

Artist Dominic Leo of nearby Beaver, Pa., who refurbished and antiqued the crucifix in January, exclaimed in surprise when he saw the lids of the plaster eyes had closed, Cvitkovic said.

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The cross is hung about 18 to 20 feet above the floor, the pastor said. A crew Friday brought in a ladder and workers all reported the eyes remained closed on the statue, he said.

'They're still closed,' Cvitkovic said.

The pastor said he could not speculate on the meaning of the incident.

'I'm not permitted,' he said. 'I can't answer, not until the bishop ... gives me permission. He's the only one that can respond.'

The pastor said he did not suspect someone had tampered with the statue.

'It would have to be a pretty good expert,' Cvitkovic said. 'The artist (who renovated it) looked at it himself closely.'

A videotape was made of the statue when it was first put up and then taken with the eyes closed, the pastor said. Bishop Donald Wuerl will examine the tape, he said.

Diocesan officials will take some time to investigate the matter fully, Cvitkovic said.

'Whatever happens, that will come from the bishop,' he said. 'He always makes the decisions. If this is from God, it (the investigation) may take time. I won't even touch it.

'It's out of the ordinary,' he said.

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