There are many accounts of miraculous healings that defy medical or scientific explanation. Doctors often refuse to discuss them because they cannot even begin to explain how such remarkable changes could happen. Others believe that the power of suggestion and strong beliefs can produce such “mind over matter” transformations. But, what if the person was not even praying? What if they did not have any strong belief? What if they were unconscious and unable to pray? What if they were totally unaware of anyone else praying for them?
One such event was actually reported on the national CNN news and NBC’s Today Show. This report was taken more seriously because a photo of “an angel” or supernatural light that was witnessed accompanied the miraculous healing. The story was presented as this:
“In September of 2008, 14-year-old Chelsea Banton lay dying of pneumonia in a hospital room in Charlotte, North Carolina. She had been born prematurely with developmental disabilities and had battled serious health problems all of her life. Doctors had exhausted all treatment; the family had told her their goodbyes. All they could do now was pray for her as her life support was removed. Mother Colleen waited for her dying daughter to take her last breath. It was at that moment that a bright light appeared in the room – but only seen by people on the television screen of the room monitor. Quickly, a picture was taken of the supernatural light on the TV screen – and immediately the young girl began making a full and miraculous recovery. The doctors and nurses could not begin to explain her amazing improvement. The medical staff on duty at that time agreed that the three vertical shafts of light that suddenly appeared were not a reflection or glare from within the room. Everybody felt that an angel had appeared and saved her life.”
This very fine linen is allegedly the burial cloth that was wrapped around the dead body of Jesus Christ. It has been studied intensely by many scientists since 1978. There has been much controversy and many misunderstandings. So why is this artifact so important? First of all, it would validate the Biblical account of Jesus being scourged, tortured, beaten, and finally crucified – giving much credibility to the Biblical story with physical evidence. Secondly, it also would provide physical evidence toward validating a supernatural event – the resurrection of his body and how he mysteriously disappeared from his tomb. It strengthens the faith for many people when we actually have physical evidence to confirm the details of such Biblical stories.
Luke 23, verses 50-53, describes the body of Jesus being wrapped in a fine linen shroud from the wealthy Joseph of Arimathea – who had also donated a wonderful tomb for the body. This exquisite “dining table cloth” measures 14.3 inches long by 3.7 inches wide – or exactly four cubits by one cubit in the ancient method of measurement for that time period. It was considered a table cloth because of its dimensions and the drip patterns found on one side. Jewish custom had people recline at the table on one side as they were to be served from the other side (as pictured in the Last Supper painting). Textile experts established that its distinct “triple herringbone weave” is consistent with fine, first century weaving. (77:10) Some researchers even theorize that since the drip patterns of sauce or wine had not been cleaned from it yet, that, perhaps, this was the dining cloth from the Last Supper. In any case, it was definitely one of the finest and most expensive linens of its day. (76)
Researchers reveal that the man’s image on the cloth indicates that he was 5’11” tall, about 175 lbs., and approximately 30-35 years old. Due to the publicized Carbon 14 dating test performed in 1988, many began to believe instead that this was some kind of medieval artistic creation — since the test suggested that the shroud was no older than 1290-1360 A.D. However, that carbon-dating analysis failed to pass peer-review of fellow scientists and was never published in any scientific journals due to serious flaws in the testing procedure (The results were actually published, instead, in Nature Magazine). Here are the reasons that scientists listed for questioning, challenging, and rejecting this Carbon 14 testing: (76)
Proper sampling of the material was to have three postage-stamp size pieces removed from three different areas of the shroud. This protocol was violated as all three pieces were taken from a single site – a site that was later found to be a rewoven and repaired section of the shroud not typical of the rest. (76)
On January 20, 2005, a paper by Ray Rogers, published in “Thermochimicaacta,” a highly-respected, peer-reviewed, scientific journal concluded: “The combined evidence from chemical kinetics, analytical chemistry, cotton content, and pyrolysis/mass spectrometry proves that the material from the radiocarbon testing area of the shroud is significantly different from that of the main cloth. The radiocarbon sample was thus not part of the original cloth and is invalid for determining the age of the shroud.” (77:22)
In August of 2008, Robert Villarreal and a team of eight researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory analyzed Roger’s samples and corroborated all of Roger’s conclusions. (77:23)
The shroud survived three fires over the centuries. The most intense fire in 1532 reached 920 degrees centigrade and melted the silver casket that contained the shroud. The melting silver burned holes in the linen. Since intense heat could affect the results of a carbon-dating process, Russian scientists set out to determine how much it could throw off test results. Simulating the heat intensity from that 1532 fire, the Russians determined that carbon-dating tests could be in error by as much as 700 to 1,300 years!
Studies examining the burial linens of mummies found a strange anomaly. Despite being the same age as the mummy, carbon-dating suggested that the linens were anywhere from 300 to 600 years younger.
Microorganisms, bacteria, and fungi found on the shroud could also throw off the carbon testing results by as much as 300 years.
Because the image appears to be oxidized or “burned into” the fibers, this, too, would affect the linen and subsequent carbon-dating tests. (76)
It is important to understand those serious flaws and potential contaminations for any carbon-dating test. That was the only scientific test in over thirty years that cast any doubt upon the shroud’s authenticity. Sadly, it seems to be the most publicized because it suggests a hoax and gave skeptics and atheists the “evidence” they desired. However, the above facts are certainly more than enough reasons to discard the infamous 1988 carbon-dating tests – and thus eliminate the only known challenge presently to the shroud’s authenticity.
On May 28, 1898, Secondo Pia photographed the shroud and was stunned to see a positive, three-dimensional image on the negative plate in his darkroom. Until the technology of photography had reached this level, nobody knew that this was a negative image. In the 1960’s Leo Vala, a professional London photographer, was also impressed by the three-dimensional, negative image:
“I have been involved in the invention of many complicated visual processes, and I can tell you that nobody could have faked that image. Nobody could do it today with all the technology we have. It’s a perfect negative. It has a photographic quality that is extremely precise.” (78:198)
In the late 1970’s an electronics engineer, Peter Schumacher, developed a sophisticated topographical device for NASA’s space program called the Interpretation Systems VP-8 Image Analyzer. It translated a monochromatic tonal scale of the photographed surfaces of planets into layers of vertical relief. In other words, it could examine a flat photograph of a three-dimensional object and convert it into a three-dimensional image. When a regular photograph is analyzed, it “collapses and distorts.” But when Dr. John Jackson analyzed the shroud image with the VP-8 device, it was consistently and uniquely three-dimensional:
“The results are unlike anything I have processed through the VP-8 Analyzer before or since. Only the Shroud of Turin has ever produced these results. One must consider how and why an artist would embed three-dimensional information in the grey shading of an image when no means of viewing this property of the image would be available for at least 650 years. Would an artist produce this work before the device to show the results was even invented? No method, no style, and no artistic skills are known to exist that can produce images that will induce the same photogrammatic results as the shroud does …” (78:199)
Other details validate this image as truly being the image of Jesus Christ: (76)
Max Frey, a Swiss criminologist, found 58 species of pollens on the shroud. 45 of them could have come from the Jerusalem area; 18 of them could ONLY come from the Holy Land and from flowers blooming in early April — around Passover / Easter!
Scientists have found no pigments, paints, dyes, stains, or brush marks to suggest an artist’s creation. The image color would not dissolve with the 25 solvents tested.
Ultraviolet light tests reveal blood serum halos for each scourge mark and the wound in his side from when a spear lanced his side after death. These “invisible” details are further proof that a hoax is unlikely; what artist would add invisible attributes?
A visible wound in his side between the ribs correlates with the scripture’s reporting of a Roman guard’s lancing his dead body to verify death. The blood stains from this wound confirm that the wound was inflicted post mortem. Present also are stains from a clear bodily fluid such as pericardial fluid or fluid from the pleural sac or pleural cavity. These findings indicate that the man was stabbed near his heart after he died.
Common to crucifixions are the breaking of legs to hasten death. Jesus reportedly died too quickly for that to happen, and the shroud image indeed shows that no leg bones had been broken.
From the angles of the blood stains the forensic experts have determined that this blood flowed while the man was upright with his arms angled like the hands of a clock at ten and two – as in a crucifixion on a cross.
Fifteen puncture wounds encircling the top of the head correlate with the crown of thorns reportedly jammed onto the head of Jesus Christ. Thorns in that region were most likely from two to four inches long. No other crucified men were known to have worn a crown of thorns.
The visible shoulder abrasions are consistent with injuries sustained while carrying the cross piece of the cross. The tip of his nose as well as his knees were scraped badly. These injuries would be consistent with falling face first while carrying the cross.
The soldiers had struck blows on Jesus’s face; the shroud reflects blows to the forehead, brow, right cheek (swollen), right upper lip, jaw, and nose.
We believe that the reported scourging of Jesus was horrible. Jewish law only allows 39 lashes, but it was the Romans who did the torture. Approximately 120 scourge marks are present on the shroud’s image of his body, indicating that two Romans were striking him, one on each side, according to the directionality of the lash-marks.
The shroud depicts clear nail holes in his wrists and one through his feet. The wrist holes would have severed the median nerve, causing the thumbs to draw inward. The shroud depicts the thumbs as drawn in, hidden behind the other fingers.
The wound in his side is between the 5th and 6th ribs and measured on the shroud as one and a half inches long and ¾ of an inch wide – the exact size and dimensions of a Roman lance. There was no swelling – which is consistent with a post mortem wound.
Frederick T. Zugibe noted that travertine aragonite dust taken from the bloody foot area of the shroud was a very high and significant match to Jerusalem dirt samples when using a scanning ion microprobe of high resolution. (77:18)
As there are no signs of decomposition or decay with the shroud image, the body was still in a state of rigor mortis – which lasts only for about 48 hours. All bodies would be expected to be still wrapped at that time, but the body of Jesus departed in some fashion on Sunday morning about 40 hours after his death. The image depicts his feet still angled downward as if still nailed to the cross. He “left” the shroud before his body could begin decaying.
The 3-D imaging analysis also revealed other images on the shroud. Hundreds of flower petals and leaves are evident around his body – and match the blooming flowers of springtime in the Holy Land. Coins had been placed on his eyes. Through computer analysis, polarized image overlays of ancient coins found an exact match – the Lepton, produced around 29 A.D. under Tiberius Caesar and Pontius Pilate!
Were the blood stains real human blood or added later by artists? Pathologists and scientists all agree with the following summary:
“Microchemical, fluorescence, and spectrographic tests reveal that the stains are human blood, type AB. They resulted from real bleeding from real wounds of a real body that came into contact with the linen. The distinctive forensic signature of clotting (red corpuscles around the edge of the clot and a clear yellowish halo of serum) is clearly present. Some of the blood flow was venous and some was arterial. Most of the blood flowed while the man was alive, and it remained on his body. Some, however, clearly oozed from a dead body.” (78:200)(77)
All of these scientific and medical facts present overwhelming evidence to suggest that this is indeed the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. But the Shroud of Turin also documents a supernatural event that confirms the foundation of the Christian faith – the Resurrection of the Son of God. If the Bible story is valid, then the Shroud MUST provide clues to this supernatural event. Here are what the scientists discovered: (76)
They cannot determine, despite all of their scientific studies, exactly how the image was created on the linen cloth. Efforts to recreate such an image with chemistry and physics on old linen cloths have all failed. Science cannot explain how the image exists.
It is not burned as there is no evidence of scorch marks – as if the linen was subjected to a heated, three-dimensional statue. The material does not fluoresce under ultra-violet illumination.
Scientists have determined that the top layer of linen fibrils have been oxidized to a depth of only six microns – half the thickness of a human hair. They theorize that a brief blast of energy like radiation could cause such a reaction. When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the shadows of the vaporized residents were imprinted on the side of any building left standing – as if a dark image on negative film had been created from this burst of radiation.
In the 1980’s a chemist at Michigan University, Dr. Giles Carter, discovered that the shroud displayed properties shared with long wave X-rays. A skeletal structure of bones, hands, and two rows of teeth were uncovered. Even the thumbs which were drawn in from the piercing of the median nerve in the wrist can be seen through the other parts of the hand. What kind of energy would produce a negative image with X-ray quality on this cloth?
This was not just a contact phenomenon between the body and the shroud. Parts of the body not in contact with the linen (and as far away from contact as several inches) still show up in the imprinted image. It is like the body has passed through the cloth.
The lack of any blood smears on the shroud suggests that the body made a very strange exit from within the shroud. Lifting the shroud off the body would have smeared the blood in areas where it had collected, possibly reopening wounds. To state it simply, the man disappeared from within the wrapped linen. The apostles Peter and John found the burial cloth “flattened” – and “they saw and believed.” The current theory is that His glorified body passed through the cloth, and it collapsed on to itself – which would have been an incredible sight to behold afterwards. The apostles would have seen the linen still in a wrapped position, but now emptied. Luke 24: verse 12: “he saw the linen cloths positioned alone, and he went away, wondering to himself about what had happened.” Like a magic trick, the body vanished from within the shroud without the linen being unwrapped from the body. Remember that it was reported later in the scriptures that Jesus’s glorified body also passed through solid walls and doors to meet with his apostles.
Another bizarre finding that scientists determined was that the image depicts “a weightless body” because there are no marks of pressure on certain parts of the shroud when the image was made. If the body had had weight at the time of the light burst, then the image would have appeared differently with pressure points. Instead the image is “evenly photographed” by the flash without obvious pressure points.
It was also determined that at the time of the light burst, the man was in an upright position with his long hair falling straight down due to gravity. If he had been lying down, his shoulder-length hair would have fallen back and away from his shoulders.
Many tests were run to precisely determine what direction this light source was coming from that illuminated his body in a totally dark tomb. Assuming from the evidence that he was upright and probably suspended slightly above the ground, the light would have been coming from directly overhead. This was confirmed by numerous photographic tests to determine the direction of the light source that created this image blast onto the shroud like a photo negative. (76)
What kind of supernatural light appears in a totally pitch-black tomb? How does anybody disappear from within a wrapped linen without unfolding it and smearing blood everywhere?
Matthew 28: verses 2-4: “For an Angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and as he approached, he rolled back the stone and sat down on it. Now his appearance was like lightning, and his vestment like snow. Then, out of fear of him, the guards were terrified, and they became (immobilized) like dead men.”
The majority of the scientists involved with all of the testing and analyses with the Shroud of Turin were generally atheists or agnostics. According to Father Francis Peffley, by the time their research ended, 95% of them had become Christians. (76) And yet, there is still another artifact that validates the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin …
Myrna (Maria) Al Akharas was just 18 years old when she married her husband Nicholas in 1982. In November of that year her sister-in-law, Layla, became quite ill. While praying fervently for her on November 22, 1982, without any warning, her hands began to exude oil. Two other ladies present insisted that she place her hands on Layla, and when she did, Layla was instantly healed. Myrna was totally confused.
Five days later, a small, three-inch tall picture of Mary with the Christ child in their bedroom began oozing enough oil to fill a saucer! Confused, family members were summoned – and they all began praying. Within one hour, four more dishes of oil came from the small icon. Suddenly, Myrna could not hear any sounds around her – as if mysteriously blocked by some presence. Then a most beautiful voice said to her,
“Mary (Myrna), do not be frightened. I am with you. Open the doors and do not deprive anyone from seeing me. Light a candle for me.”
Then she could hear sounds around her again. The icon poured forth oil for the next four days. The clergy and civil authorities all investigated for any evidence of a fraud or trick. They could only conclude that oil was indeed coming from the picture. When they asked Myrna to pray in front of them, having washed her hands well, the oil would flow from her palms again. They were impressed that she was not more religious than most others. She prayed very little, only went to church once a week, and loved to dance, swim, and laugh like other young people.
One day a priest was kneeling near Myrna while she was praying, and he heard her say, “Father, I feel like the Virgin has entered into me!” Then he saw a “brilliant liquid” flowing abundantly from her palms. A bishop who was also present in the room noted that the oil had the scent of myron – or holy oil. Medical doctors and scientists gathered to decipher the origin of the healing oil that continued to exude from Myrna’s hands when she prayed. Thousands of people began to visit the icon in her home. The sick gathered in her courtyard, asking to be anointed with the healing oil. Phenomenal cures resulted for many of them.
On December 15, 1982, at 11:37 p.m., while a huge crowd of people were praying in front of Myrna’s little picture, she felt an invisible being tug at her arm and firmly escort her to the roof garden. She was afraid and knelt on the tile floor. When she looked up, she saw the Virgin Mary in front of her! “She shined as if she were covered with diamonds. I was afraid, and I ran away screaming.” Her husband and family were overwhelmed and confused. What was going on?
On December 18, 1982, Myrna was once again mysteriously escorted by an invisible being to the roof garden. But this time her husband and nine others followed. From the roof Myrna observed something strange across the street in the upper part of a tree.
“There was a large, luminous, white globe – like a large diamond ball – sitting on a tree limb. The ball opened, splitting from the top and dividing into two half-moons. As the halves opened, a bow of light appeared over the top, and inside was the same Beautiful Lady. As the ball disappeared, the Lady seemed to be standing on the branch of the tree. She had a white veil that covered her hair. The veil was a part of her dress. Over her right shoulder was a sky-blue cape that wrapped around her back and over her left side. The white dress covered her feet, and only her hands could be seen. The dress and cape seemed to be made of white and blue light. From her right hand hung a long Rosary.”
The vision floated toward Myrna along a stream of pure light that formed like a path through the sky from the tree. The Virgin passed right through the railing of the terrace, stopping just two feet away from where Myrna knelt. Then Mary spoke,
“My children, be mindful of God because God is with us. You know much, but you really know nothing. Your knowledge is incomplete. One day you will know everything as God knows me. Do good to evil-doers. Do not mistreat anyone. I have given you oil, more than you have asked for. I give you something stronger than oil. Repent and believe! Be mindful of me in your joy. Announce my Son Emmanuel. He who announces Him is saved. He who does not … his faith is in vain. Love one another.”
“I do not ask you to give money to churches. I ask you to love. Those who give money to the poor and to the churches but yet have not love, have lives of no value. I will visit the homes of my children more frequently, because those who go to church do not always go there to pray. I do not ask you to build a church for me but rather a shrine. Give. Do not deprive anyone who asks for help. Be humble, my children. Do not insult the proud. Forgive them. Then you will be forgiven.”
Then Mary raised her right hand (which held the Rosary). A brightness enveloped her as she disappeared into the dazzling light. The Virgin continued to appear to Myrna after this, frequently emphasizing church unity and humility.
On December 19, 1982, a man carried his paralyzed nine-year old son into Myrna’s bedroom where the icon was kept. Oil poured from Myrna’s hands while she and the boy’s father prayed over him. As she anointed his legs, the twisted limbs straightened out, and the boy stated excitedly that he could feel his legs for the first time in his life! The father screamed praises for the miracle, and his son ran and jumped and danced with great joy and many tears.
On December 31, 1982, an official declaration was made by Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim, who had studied the supernatural events carefully. Recognition was spread throughout the Greek Orthodox churches in Damascus. Approval was granted by the Syrian Catholic Church.
On January 5, 1983, a Muslim woman, who was completely blind, was healed and recovered her eyesight completely. It is estimated that 100,000 people have witnessed these miracle healings from the oil with their own eyes. It is also estimated that over a million people have seen filmed documentation of these miracles. Even in 1988 as she traveled to speak about the apparitions and messages given to her, the healing oil continued to flow and heal others.
On June 18, 1990, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Damascus attested to being an eyewitness on several occasions to oil exuding from Myrna and her little icon.
Myrna has also bore the stigmata on the Fridays preceding Easter. One video clearly shows the bloody outline of an unseen crown of thorns on her forehead. Her hands exhibit gaping wounds in each palm. She is seen in the video, writhing in pain, on her bed. Her husband, mother, and clergy are with her for those three hours.
On May 31, 1984, at 3:00 p.m., oil began to flow from her forehead, face, neck, hands, and eyes. The pain in her eyes was excruciating. Then she went into an “ecstasy” and heard the voice of Jesus for the first time,
“My daughter, I am the beginning and the end.”
On October 15, 1986, Myrna received a message for the world from Jesus:
“My daughter, how beautiful is the earth. In this place I shall establish my Kingdom and My peace. I shall give you My Heart in order to have yours. Your sins are forgiven because you are looking for Me. He who looks for Me, I shall imprint My image in him. Tell My children to come for Me, for I am with them at all times.”
Although Myrna has no idea why she was chosen for these spiritual gifts, she treasures them and accepts her “assignment.” She encourages others to take these messages given to her very seriously. It is not known if the oil ever stopped flowing from her palms, so she may be still offering the healing oil to this present day.
The events in the Philippines began in February, 1986, as the virtual twenty-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos came to an abrupt and unexpected end through a series of strange events. Corazon Aquino, the widow and reluctant political replacement of slain opposition leader, Ninoy Aquino, had won the presidential election in a stunning upset by an overwhelming margin. President Marcos had actually called for this election as a means to put an end to the efforts by the opposition, but it backfired! However, through illegal actions and total control of the media, Marcos, instead, flagrantly lied and declared himself as the winner.
The rigged election results were blatant and obvious to everyone, sending millions into the streets to protest and triggering an unexpected coup attempt by a dissatisfied faction of the military. The saga of EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue) culminated in a four-day tension-filled event when the rebel group in the Armed Forces of the Philippines was discovered by the Marcos troops and was ordered to be arrested. The Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Jaime Sin, enjoined the people to go out in the streets to protect the rebel leaders. The Catholic faithful heeded the call and massed along EDSA, fronting Camp Crame where the rebel leaders — headed by then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and Armed Forces Vice Chief of Staff Fidel Ramos — were holed and thus escorted by the people against impending bombs from the Marcos loyal troops.
The people milled around the rebel leaders, bringing nothing with them but rosary beads, flowers, food and images of the Blessed Virgin. Hundreds and thousands of religious priests and sisters, parish priests and their parishioners including onlookers and curiosity seekers stayed on the whole of EDSA, immobilizing the tanks sent out to crush the rebel leaders and, according to reports, even the people. The masses of people in the streets continued to pray the Rosary endlessly. Some offered garlands of flowers to the soldiers who stood guard. Some brave nuns climbed up on the tanks that were approaching. Those who stayed in their homes sent supplies of food and drinks to the streets.
President Marcos had sent a full army — with tanks and armored vehicles — to Manila in order to control the seemingly unstoppable public demonstrations against his administration. He planned to stop at nothing in order to gain control – even if that meant massacring the crowds on the streets. The civilians continued their protests, notwithstanding the danger when they would lie down in front of the tanks to stop them from penetrating the crowd.
As the soldiers tried to advance, they saw up in the sky what appeared to be a cross-like figure, but this did not hinder them from pursuing their goal, and they continued to press on toward the crowd. The Rosary was recited continuously; the melody of Ave Maria sounded after each decade.
All of a sudden, the soldiers were awestruck, stopping dead in their tracks. A “beautiful woman encased in immense bright light and dressed as a nun” became clearly visible, standing in front of the tanks. The light was dazzling as the crowds saw her appear. According to these soldiers, a beautiful woman dressed in blue with heavenly eyes appeared in front of them, extended her arms outward and spoke in a voice that was clearly audible to everyone,
“Dear soldiers, stop! Do not proceed. Do not harm my children. I am the queen of this land.”
The soldiers then dropped their weapons, withdrew from pressing forward and joined the throngs of people to turn and fight with them against the Marcos regime.
The soldiers claimed that the woman who appeared to them was the Virgin Mary. A television station was covering the event which prompted thousands of residents of the Philippines to run out of their homes in celebration: “Mother Mary is with us!”
President Marcos and his family left for Hawaii that night.
Cardinal Jaime Sin vouches for the veracity of the apparition and said:
“Yes, my heart was telling me that this was indeed Mary. And since they obeyed this woman who appeared to them – and did not follow orders to fire upon the people, then President Marcos had nobody to give him any power or support. This is when he fled from the Philippines. That was the end of him.”
The Cardinal added that he did not know the soldiers – but that they came in tears to him, awestruck by the “beautiful heavenly lady.” The Cardinal also revealed that he met with Sister Lucia, the only living visionary from Fatima, just before he was to travel to the United States to first tell of the Virgin’s visit at a press conference. Although Sister Lucia had no access to newspapers, radio, television, or magazines, he was amazed that she knew and recounted every detail to him of what had happened. She then added that Corazon Aquino was a gift to the Philippines from God, and that if she could maintain peace and democracy there for at least two or more years, that nation would be influential in leading China to Christianity.
It was on a historic day, February 25, 1986 when the concept of a special shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived. On that date, the political dictatorship of the late President Ferdinand Marcos ended with him, family and close associates fleeing to Hawaii to escape the angry but peaceful uprising of the Filipino people who were tired of his one-man rule.
It was a shining moment for the faith of the people in a God who listens. It was also the people’s faith and trust in the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, which gave the people persistence in patiently waiting for the end of this unlamented regime.
Ten years later, on the same site where the rebels were met by the protective group of political activists to safety, a church was built, aptly named Our Lady of EDSA Shrine, in commemoration of that glorious moment in the history of the Filipino people where love and faith towered over the might of guns and goons and propelled the Republic to continue its political history of freedom and respect for the constitution and the will of the people.
Mary, Queen of Peace, the Patroness of EDSA Shrine, stands guard as a large statue atop the beautifully crafted roof of the EDSA Church, fronting the busy crossroads of EDSA and Ortigas Avenue. It is a fitting place for Our Lady of Peace to look over her children and keep them hopeful of a more joyous and peaceful life now and in the future.
Soon after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, Saint James was preaching the Gospel in Spain. (This also would have been around 10 years after Mary was taken to heaven. Other sources say that Mary was still alive and living in Palestine – so she bilocated!?) James was disheartened because of the failure of his mission in Spain. On January 2nd, 40 A.D., while he was deep in prayer by the banks of the Ebro, the Mother of God appeared to him and gave him a small statue of her image holding Jesus and also a column of jasper. (picture 1) She instructed him to build a church in her honor.
“This place is to be my house, and this image and column shall be the title and altar of the temple that you shall build. The faith of the people will become as strong as this pillar”
About a year after the apparition, James arranged to build a small chapel in Mary’s honor – the first church ever dedicated to the honor of the Virgin Mary. After James returned to Jerusalem, he was executed by Herod Agrippa in about 44 A.D. – the first apostle to be martyred for his faith. Several of his disciples took his body and returned it for final burial in Spain.
Although this first chapel was eventually destroyed along with various other Christian shrines, the statue and pillar stayed intact under the protection of the people of Zaragoza, Spain. Today, a Baroque-style church, completed in 1686, exists on this site and houses the precious items given to James by the Virgin Mary in 40 A.D.
During the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, three bombs were dropped on the church, but none of them exploded. Two of them are on display in the basilica today. (picture 2 and 3)