- Last Updated: 6:03 AM, July 14, 2012
- Posted: 1:29 AM, July 14, 2012
There’s a new gal causing a frenzy in the land of Snookie and Tan Mom — the Virgin Mary!
Throngs of worshippers have been flocking to a quiet New Jersey street this week after someone spotted a likeness of the Madonna on the side of a tree.
“It’s a miracle!” exclaimed Eva Copantitla, 44, one of the first to spot what believers are calling a heavenly vision in West New York.
“When I first saw it, I got happy, screaming with joy and I told other people to come and see.”
Since Tuesday, hundreds of Catholics have come to see the image, which can barely be made out in the grain of an oval knot in the tree.
Yesterday afternoon, the sidewalk on Bergenline Avenue was more crowded than a Jersey hair salon, as some 60 Madonna-mad believers kept vigil at the blessed bough.
“I think it’s incredible. It’s unbelievable,” said neighbor Julissa Arias, 20. “You don’t see this happen a lot. It’s truly a blessing.”
The tree has been surrounded by flowers and holy candles left by Virgin Mary fans.
They say the image resembles the icon of Mexico’s Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“I think that it’s a miracle. It’s amazing we could see it,” said Michael Rodriguez, 29. “It’s the image of Guadalupe. Guadalupe is very good. Whatever you ask, she gives to you.”
Believers sang, prayed and choked up in tears as they kissed their fingers after touching the tree.
Police had to set up barricades and direct traffic as the throng grew. A local paper reported that town officials fear the overtime bill for cops guarding the tree may be steep.
But for the enraptured faithful, the cost is worth it because the tree is turning New Jersey into the Garden of Eden State.
“It’s just something beautiful,” Arias said. “It’s natural, and it’s nature. I can’t explain it. I’m glad I came to see it.”
Not everyone, however, is so thrilled.
“It’s killing my business, they are killing me,” said the owner of a nail salon near the tree, who says he has been watering it for years without ever noticing any holy icons on it.
“My customers can’t get here. There’s too much traffic,” he said. “They can’t park.”
Even Roman Catholic leaders in the area had mixed feelings about he Mary “miracle.”
“It’s very good for people to have faith, but this is not helping development of faith,” said the Rev. Carlo Fortunio, the pastor of three churches in the area. “Follow the example of Mary — pray, [help] the poor and needy . . . she never looked for attention for herself.”
Additional reporting by Kirstan Conley