PESCARA, Italy (AP) _ More than 10,000 people crowded a hillside in this coastal city Sunday to witness an apparition of the Virgin Mary that never appeared, and some went away with sore eyes.

People came from all parts of Italy to gather at the foot of a 16-foot high cross and stare into the sun.

A local woman, Maria Fioritti, claimed that she had seen a vision of the Madonna each week and invited Italians to join her to see for themselves. The claim received wide publicity in the Italian press.

But the crowd stared in vain and, according to state-run RAI television, many complained that the sun had hurt their eyes.