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Hundreds Daily Viewing Image at Auto Supply Store

December 19, 1990

PROGRESO, Texas (AP) _ Reynaldo Trevino spends more time preaching than selling auto parts now that hundreds of people daily ignore his fan belts and radiator hoses to view what they believe is the Virgin Mary’s image on a bathroom floor.

The image - varying shades of gray that Trevino said used to be one color - appeared Dec. 3 on the cement floor of the shower stall in the rear of his Progreso Auto Supply.

He said something within his heart told him to spread the message that the presence on the floor symbolized the way many neglect their faith.

″So I started telling every customer who came in,″ Trevino said Tuesday. ″Before I sold them a part, I took them back.″

The word spread quickly. A steady procession of faithful and curious now enter the store daily in the tiny town by the Mexican border in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Some days more than 1,000 visit. About 100 per hour stopped at the store Tuesday morning.

Only a few came to buy auto parts.

Over and over, Trevino told visitors the message he believes the Virgin told him to spread: ″Share with your brothers, pray the rosary, fast and look for Jesus and put him at the center of your hearts.″

They had to wind their way behind the counter and down a narrow corridor past the shelves of inventory before reaching the restroom at the back corner.

Some knelt to pray by the shower stall, next to a toilet. Others made the sign of the cross or touched the image they saw.

They see the Virgin’s image in the varying shades of gray cement. A dark area about a foot wide appears in the shape of common representations of the Virgin. What could be interpreted as facial features are vaguely discernible.

Others see more, including a woman Tuesday who said she saw an earring, flowers and an angel to the side.

″She’s so beautiful, so beautiful,″ 14-year-old Bonnie Maldonado said, tears flowing from her eyes after leaving the store.

Her mother, Ernestina Maldonado, said she found it painful to see the Virgin on the floor.

″I feel guilty,″ she said. ″I feel very, very guilty because I feel like I’m part of this world. I’m part to blame for where she is. In the process of trying to get ahead, we have lost our values.″

Trevino, 45, is Roman Catholic, like most who believe they see the Virgin Mary at his store. Some don’t see anything special, he said.

To aid viewing, Trevino placed in the shower a small picture of the Virgin, along with a fluorescent desk lamp.

He said he plans to make no money from the image and that his business actually has suffered from his devotion of so much time to his new religious mission.

Trevino planned to sell the store until he saw the image. Now, he said, he awaits guidance from God on what to do with the business.

He discourages photographs.

″I want them to take the image home with them in their hearts,″ Trevino said.

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