Images from Milton




July 2, 2003 - Reported in [Spirit] online newspaper. Taken from a farther perspective, this top photo, sent to us by Sister Margaret Coyne of Portland, Maine, shows the striking nature of the image formed in condensation inside a window at an office at Milton Hospital about ten miles from Boston. The seeming phenomenon has been attracting crowds for the past two weeks.

Some believe the message is connected with a coming merger between Milton, which does not do abortion, and a hospital that does. Bottom picture, another window at the hospital that reminds many of an unborn baby. Yet a third holy representation is seen on a chimney.

July 4, 2003 - First Mary, now Jesus said to adorn U.S. hospital.



Friday July 4, 2003 Reported in [Reuters]. Written by Greg Frost. Milton, Massachusetts. First the Virgin Mary turned up in a hospital window. Now Jesus is apparently on the chimney. Thousands of onlookers are flocking to this Boston suburb, where believers have seen the divine in otherwise ordinary bits of glass, mortar and brick.

"That's a miracle," exclaimed Tina Montgomery, one of hundreds of people who gathered on a hot afternoon in a parking lot to gaze up at a window on the third floor of Milton Hospital. The window is clearly unique when compared to those around it. While other panes on the building are clear, the window that has drawn worldwide attention is clouded over with a white film. From some angles, the image caused by the film appears to shimmer.

"It's Mary, and she's holding a baby, and he has something in his hand," Montgomery said excitedly. Many people say they see the same image. So many, in fact, that the hospital has decided to cover the window with a tarpaulin for all but three hours a day to ensure calm for patients and to cut congestion on local roads.

This does not sit well with pilgrims like Montgomery, who calls the move "sacrilege." Others say the cover has only caused new images to appear and as proof they point to a nearby chimney where they say the face of Jesus has shown up.

Broken Seal

Since it was first noticed in June, more than 40,000 people have descended on the not-for-profit community hospital just south of Boston to see the phenomenon for themselves. Some pilgrims stand in awe or pray to themselves while clutching rosary beads. Others bow their heads and place their hands on the brick wall beneath the window.

Glass experts tell Milton Hospital that a seal on the double-paned window broke years ago and that a drying agent seeped between the panes, causing the discolouration. Sceptics have seized on this to say the image purported to be Mary is no more than a random assortment of molecules that just happen to resemble the religious icon.

"OK if that's true then why doesn't it look like a clown or an elephant?" asked Mirna LeBlanc, a Paraguayan native who moved to Boston 16 years ago. "You can sit and stare at anything that happens and think of a logical explanation," said Chet Flynn of Townsend, Massachusetts. "I just happen to believe that there's something a little bit more to it than that."

Hospital spokeswoman Susan Schepici confirms that officials at the facility have asked the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston for "guidance" on how to deal with the apparition and the crowds it has drawn.

Although the archdiocese has not replied formally, a church spokesman says that if the image leads people to deepen their faith then it is a good thing.

For Milton Hospital, however, it is becoming an expensive thing. Schepici reckons the hospital is spending $10,000 a week to arrange visiting hours and control traffic, but she says officials do not consider the flood of visitors a "nuisance."

Abortion Warning?

Not content to simply gaze at the images in wonder, the faithful -many of them Roman Catholic are coming up with reasons for the apparitions. Some, like LeBlanc, think the apparition is somehow linked to current events like the clergy sexual abuse scandal that has embroiled the Boston archdiocese for the past 18 months or the war in Iraq.

"These are bad things that have happened," said LeBlanc. "Mary's asking us for more prayers. We've abandoned her." But other Catholics suggest in ominous tones that the apparition may be a warning to Milton Hospital about joining forces with Beth Israel-Deaconess, a Boston hospital that performs abortions.

Milton Hospital, which does not deliver babies or terminate pregnancies, signed a clinical affiliation with Beth Israel on June 1 - about the same time the image began to gain media attention.

"This is a sign that this hospital has been trying to merge with Beth Israel to make this an abortion clinic," said a Catholic woman who would only identify herself as Vidalina.

"I strongly believe the Blessed Mother doesn't want that, and I strongly believe she's here to tell us that," she said.

To back up their claims of a warning, some pilgrims speak of another window on the building that contained an image of a fetus developing in the womb. That window, they say, has since been removed by the hospital. [Photo is second at the top of this page, image from [Spirit] online newspaper.

Schepici, the hospital spokeswoman, says she has heard such talk but never seen the second window herself.

July 12, 2003 - Milton Madonna bathed in color: Proof of miracle to some; proof of science to others. Reported in [Spirit] online newspaper.

The Patriot Ledger in Massachusetts reports that a greenish spot has formed around the "stomach" of the Milton Hospital window image that many believe is an apparition of the Virgin Mary. "A window image that some consider a likeness of the Virgin Mary has taken on an iridescence, convincing some of its heavenly origins and others of an earthly explanation," reports Jessica Van Sack. "The 'Milton Madonna,' a monochrome silhouette that has enraptured 50,000 visitors to Milton Hospital since it was first noticed on June 10, now has small patches of green, blue, yellow and red. To believers, it is another sign that the mother of Jesus has come to reassure the church, the nation or the world. To skeptics, it's just more evidence of a faulty window seal."

According to the report, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, when a security guard removed the blue tarpaulin to reveal the image for its daily viewing hours, the regulars squinted, pointed at the iridescent spots, and chattered about ''another miracle.'' ''I want to cry,'' said Krystyna Mateli, 24, of Dorchester, surrounded by her extended family.
Doreen Gianci, 46, of Holbrook said she goes to see the image almost every day. She brought her seven children with her on Tuesday.

''I feel like it's a magnet like I'm drawn to it,'' she said. ''The people are really hungry for God here.'' One skeptic attributes the perception that the image is Mary to a phenomenon called pareidolia, a psychological term for the mind's obsessions with finding patterns in essentially random objects, from clouds to wood grain. ''Old bottles have an iridescence. One sees iridescence on glass,'' Nickel said. ''It's obviously nothing very mysterious.'' The newspaper reports, however, that while "product technicians at Andersen Windows said cracks in double-pane windows often cause a large, circular, cloudy formation on the windows that can be permanent, like a greenhouse effect, they could not explain the colors."

Patricia S. Brown, director of the Architectural Engineering Institute at the American Society of Civil Engineers, said there are many variables that could contribute to effects in the window. The window is in the rear of the ophthalmology clinic at a medical office building. It is covered by drywall that blocks the light and frustrates further study, but which also eliminates any possibility of a hoax. The large crowds of the first few weeks have subsided, but hundreds of regulars still visit to sing hymns, say prayers and gaze longingly at the image.

Theories abound. To some, the appearance has a healing influence on an archdiocese wounded by a clergy sex scandal. To others, its placement in Milton, the birthplace of former President George Bush, is a sign for the nation or the world. "The hospital is still awaiting guidance on how to proceed from the Archdiocese of Boston," says the Ledger. The iridescence is not the only perceived addition to the Milton mystery. Last week, gazers spotted a cross in a faint discoloration on the chimney bricks, and around another corner, talk circulated of another window image looking like Jesus. There was also a second window with what looked strikingly like a fetus, but according to the Washington Post, hospital officials have removed that window.

July 23, 2003 - It’s no miracle, church decides of Milton Madonna. Reported in the [The Patriot Ledger] - The Boston Roman Catholic Archdiocese has concluded that the Milton Madonna, an image in a Milton Hospital window, is not a miraculous appearance of the Virgin Mary. ‘‘You cannot preclude natural causes as an explanation of the image,’’ the Rev. Christopher Coyne, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said yesterday.For the image to be considered a miracle by the church, he said, earthly origins such as condensation must be ruled out.

‘‘A miracle by its very nature means that it cannot be naturally explained,’’ the Rev. Coyne said. He said the church has completed its investigation of the image, which has brought thousands of the faithful and the curious to the hospital grounds over the past six weeks. It can take years for the church to rule that something is a miracle. Apparitions of the Virgin Mary to three children at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917 were not officially ruled to be miracles until 1930. Since 1900, fewer than 10 reported sightings of the Virgin Mary have received church validation out of tens of thousands of claims.

The window silhouette was first noticed on June 10. About two weeks ago, flecks of green, blue, yellow and red appeared throughout the image, further fueling the faith of window regulars.The Rev. Coyne said that although the image is not a miracle by definition, the archdiocese will not adopt an official position on the exact origin of the image, ‘‘nor do we expect to in the future.’’ Church doctrine requires a miracle to be an observable event that lacks a scientific explanation, facilitates healing or good and conveys a religious message. In 1978, the church codified the proper protocol for investigating apparitions.Traditionally, the Vatican does not get involved in proclaiming miracles, leaving investigations up to local church officials. Bishops determine if an investigation is warranted, and then form a team of experts usually consisting of doctors, the pastor of the closest church and someone with a science background.

The church has a tradition of skepticism in dealing with alleged apparitions, most of which tend to be images of the Virgin Mary, said the Rev. Johann Roten, director of the Marian Library at the University of Dayton. A church declaration would come in a statement that the Rev. Roten called ‘‘a theological negative,’’ and it would not even use the term ‘‘miracle.’’ A validation would say, ‘‘There’s nothing that bars us from believing in the supernatural nature of the event.’’

The first documented claim of a religious apparition came in A.D. 275 , the Rev. Roten said. The most recent authentication by the Roman Catholic Church came less than a year ago, in the case of a woman who claimed to receive a message of peace from the Virgin Mary in Amsterdam in 1948. The Rev. Roten said the Boston Archdiocese did not engage in a full-scale investigation of the Milton window, but more ‘‘looked into the matter.’’

The Rev. Coyne did not comment on the church’s specific fact-finding attempts. Investigations in general have proved difficult because there is no way to reach the window from inside. In the rear of the ophthalmology clinic at a medical office building, the window is covered by drywall that blocks the light and frustrates further study, but which also eliminates any possibility of a hoax.

Window-gazing crowds have subsided to local viewers and regulars, and the hospital still has no plans to change the 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. viewing hours, spokeswoman Susan Schepici said. Yesterday at 5:30, about 50 visitors peered at the window, even amid forecasts of a downpour. Some said they disapproved of the church’s position, but hoped for future investigations to reach a different conclusion.‘‘That’s not condensation,’’ said Deirdre Cimeno, 32, of Dedham. ‘‘How could they think that’s condensation? Really.’’

Others said they felt the miracle is so obvious that the church’s findings were irrelevant.‘‘They can say whatever they want, but I just think they don’t want anybody making fun of the church,’’ said Anna Cuilla, 74, of South Boston.Ciulla said the definition of a church miracle should not take into account the origin of the symbol, but rather what it means for people. ‘‘I believe there’s condensation,’’ she said on her fourth trip to the window last night. ‘‘But condensation has appeared on my windows and it didn’t look like the Madonna.’’A few skeptics said they agreed with the church’s determination.‘‘I don’t believe it’s a miracle,’’ said Ciulla’s friend, Ellie Selvitelle, 71, of South Boston. ‘‘It doesn’t look like anything to me.’’Randolph resident Jim Clark said authenticating the image as a miracle would bring people much-needed hope.

‘‘Who’s to say it is and who’s to say it isn’t?’’ he said. ‘‘This world can use as many miracles as it can get these days.’’


[See more Images from Milton]

[Milton Hospital] 92 Highland Street Milton, Massachusetts 02186.