NEW ORLEANS The Ursuline chapel in Uptown New Orleans is home to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, but for the past 12 days, it has also been home to hundreds of faithful who are coming in to see what they say is a vision of Jesus on a pillar.
'I think this is so extraordinary,' said Charles Davis . 'You can see the crown of thorns on Jesus. You can see his face. It's just very extraordinary.'
Word of the image has spread and people are coming from near and far to see it. The Davis family came in from Geismar, driven by a deep faith.
'It touched my heart very good and it felt like the whole world needed this,' said young Melissa Davis. 'It felt very good.
The Ursuline sisters who run the chapel say the image is explainable to a point. They say it's a shadow cast by light filtering through the chandelier above. If you turn on the chandelier, the image disappears. But, they say what isn't explainable is why no one had seen the image before.
Sister Carla Dolce, who has been a regular at the chapel since 1944, said she had never seen the image, until now.
A current Ursuline student was said to be the first to see the image, on March 22. The student was in the chapel alone praying and according to Sr. Carla, at the end of the prayer, she asked God to give her a sign, which is when she opened her eyes and saw the vision.
The stunned student then notified her teacher, according to Sr. Carla, and word spread, especially thanks to cell phone pictures.
Now, the secret is out and the faithful and the curious are coming to see for themselves. Some say they don't see anything remarkable, but others say they are in awe.
'I do (see the face of Christ),' said one woman, 'not only that, I'm moved by it.'
On a recent visit there was a young child who was on her knees, an elderly woman who struggled for every breath, people from other religious orders and many Catholic faithful all drawn under one common roof during the holiest week of the year for Christians.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond issued a statement Monday afternoon.
'While this is not an apparition, it is important that we remember that God can use things as simple as the sunlight and shadows to bring hope to people in their daily lives.'
The chapel, on the Ursuline Academy campus at 2635 State St., is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays until the 12:30 p.m. Mass.