My favorite things about Slow News Days are the wealth of religious sightings that seem to crop up. Whether it's Jesus making an appearance on a snack food, or other religious figures spotted in knots of wood, local news crews are always there to get the scoop. Here are seven of the my favorite recent religious sightings.
1. In a potato
This past January, Pastor Renee Brewster of Florida's Marion County found something sacred in her starches. Feeling reluctant about making potato salad for her church because it wasn't her normal task, Brewster asked God for a sign that she should continue making the dish. A few moments later, while slicing potatoes, she discovered what she thought was a rotten spot. Her 10-year-old granddaughter saw something else: the image of Jesus on the cross. Brewster keeps the sacred spud on ice to preserve the memory.
2. On a pancake
Brewster's sighting was not the first time people have claimed to see Jesus in Florida. Just a few months earlier, in November 2007, a Southern woman got a surprise while frying up pancakes one Sunday morning. Marilyn Smith, from Port St. Lucie, says she was about to put chocolate chips in her pancake, when she saw an outline of Jesus and the Virgin Mary in her food. Whether or not God was asking Smith to post the holy hotcake on eBay is debatable. But within two day it had sold for $338, with over 3,200 online visitors dropping by to gawk at it.
3. In a sonogram
When 23-year-old Amanda Skelding (now Amanda McLean) discovered her pregnancy in March 2007, she did what most women with child do: she scheduled an ultrasound. At her appointment, she was shocked to see the face of Jesus staring back at her from her womb. McLean suffers from the womb complaint endometriosis and has had two miscarriages. Doctors in her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland, had told her she had less than a one in 10 chance of giving birth to a healthy child, but she was now pregnant with a daughter. For McLean, the sighting came as total reassurance and she claimed that she felt someone was looking out for her child before it was born.
4. On a kitten
This summer in South Bend, Indiana, Lori Johnson took in two small kittens that she found abandoned by her home. The Johnsons dubbed the kittens, presumably siblings, Sissy and Bubby. One afternoon, while Lori's husband was petting Sissy, he noticed a mysterious face in the cat's fur. The Johnsons believe it is the face of Jesus covered by the Shroud of Turin.
5. In spumoni
In early July of this year, customers at Hatch Family Chocolates say they caught a glimpse of the image of Christ in the swirls of spumoni, a kind of ice cream. There was a bit of discrepancy about whether this sighting was actually Jesus—some thought the image more closely resembled a Beatle or William Shakespeare. In any case, the staff agreed it was special. Instead of selling the ice cream, the owners decided to save it for a few days and then throw a party to dig in to the delicious—and perhaps divine—treat.
6. On a tree
California is known for its long lasting, destructive wildfires during the dry season. However, last year, something beautiful came from the ashes. Residents of the area claimed to see an outline of the Holy Mother in this tree's charred trunk on the side of the Sierra Highway in Los Angeles. Hundreds visited the tree and created a makeshift altar by leaving flowers, candles and other offerings. Some people even left notes asking for special blessings. The tree was cut down and saved be county road crews.
7. On a grilled cheese sandwich
Perhaps the most famous religious sighting is the image of the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich. In 1994, Diane Duyser saw the image of the Holy Mother just as she was about to take a bite. The Florida resident claims that she did nothing to preserve the sandwich and just placed it in a box for the 10 years, yet it never crumbled or grew mold. In 2004, she placed the sacred sandwich on eBay and it eventually sold for a whopping $28,000. By the time the sandwich auction closed, the sale had received over 1.7 million hits on the auction site. The sandwich was purchased by Goldenpalace.com, an internet casino. They claimed they would take the sandwich on tour so that people all over the world could view the image and then donate the money earned through ticket sales to charity. The item briefly inspired sellers to place dozens of spin-off items on the online auction site, including attempts at replica burnt toast, T-shirts, ornamental plates, and domain names.