Traffic has built and crowds have gathered outside a Providence, Rhode Island, church after a man claims he saw the Virgin Mary presenting herself to him in the form of a silhouette on the chapel's steeple. Brian Trambowicz was driving by the Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Mother when he said he saw the silhouette of Jesus Christ's mother in the shadows of a cross. As word continued to spread about Tramowicz's sighting, more people lined up outside the North Providence church to see the cross for themselves.
Pat Sirabella of Pascoag believes the image is a sign of redemption, while John LaRoche of West Warwick hopes it will turn lives around. "I hope it's a sign that they'll turn there lives around and rededicate their lives to God," he said. Paul Gondreau, a theology professor at Providence College and the father of a boy recently blessed by Pope Francis, said that he could see the resemblance in the image stained into bell tower's cross. He said that the recent rain and humidity could "certainly" have had an effect on the steel cross; however, he stressed that the "remarkable" aspect of the image has little to do with how it was formed.
"We live in a culture that often wants to oppose science against religion," Gondreau said. "But the Catholic tradition has never seen it that way. The two need not be diametrically opposed, and there are many mysteries of the Catholic Church that very well may have a scientific explanation behind them." Gondreau went on to say that the Church conducts investigations into sightings such as this one. He said those investigations aren't begun until it's believed the images are the reasons behind miracles.
The Providence Diocese released a statement that said it is "highly unlikely" that divine intervention had anything to do with the Virgin Mary's supposed likeness appearing on the cross. However, the Diocese went on to say that - even if it was the result of natural causes - the sighting can still be considered positive. "God often works through ordinary means...," the release stated. "Even if it is the result of natural causes, [if the image] inspires individuals to a renewed faith in God and greater charity for their neighbour, that is a positive message to be welcomed and embraced."