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Pilgrims Pray, Remain at Church Day After Reported Miracles

August 16, 1988

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) _ Several hundred people remained at St. John Neumann Roman Catholic Church on Tuesday to pray and share accounts of the miracles they claimed to have witnessed the night before.

While about 50 people lined up inside the darkened sanctuary to pray and leave flowers before a small statue of the Virgin Mary, others gathered in small groups in the courtyard outside to talk about what they had seen during Monday’s evening Mass.

One woman stopped by the fountain to dip her rosary beads in the water.

Thousands of worshipers interrupted the outdoor service early Monday evening with cries and applause as hundreds claimed to see Jesus and Mary when a ray of light burst through the clouds. Some worshipers said the sun appeared to dance in the sky, while dozens reported that the silver beads on their rosaries turned to a gold color.

Others in the crowd, including several priests, said they saw nothing in the sky but the sun and clouds, but the pastor of the church said it looked to him like ″a host spinning inside the sun.″

Lou Shaffner showed three photographs of the sky she had taken Monday. In one photo, amid the clouds and rays of sunlight, a faint line was visible, and Mrs. Shaffner said she perceived a window frame in that picture.

″I took these in sequence,″ she said. ″The sun looked blue. It kind of danced. It did it three times, like the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.″

Mrs. Shaffner’s mother, Marie Blood, said the silver-colored crucifix on her chain of rosary beads turned gold.

″This belonged to my father and I’ve had it for all these years,″ she said. ″I never thought this would happen.″

About 12,000 people came to St. John Neumann, a charismatic church, after three parishioners reported receiving messages from the Virgin Mary. ″I will look upon you and you will see my eyes,″ one reported message said. Other messages told the parish to prepare for miracles on Monday’s Feast of the Assumption, which celebrates the entry of the Virgin Mary into Heaven after her death.

Reports of phenomena similar to those reported Monday have been received from pilgrims to Medjugorje, Yugoslavia. In that small, mountain village, six youths have claimed to have received messages and seen apparitions of Mary.

Neither the reported occurrences in Yugloslavia nor at St. John Neumann have been officially endorsed or recognized by the Catholic Church.

After the first messages were reported, Bishop Micheal Sheehan of the Lubbock Diocese had urged worshipers to treat the messages with caution. He was out of town Tuesday and not available for comment on Monday’s reports, his office said.

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