Over the past few days thousands of people have come to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor at the campus of Ursuline Academy, an all-girls Catholic school in New Orleans, to see a shadow image that resembles the popular image of Jesus.
One of the Shrine's chandeliers has cast a shadow on the lower part of a pillar within the church building, which appears to be the face of a thinly-bearded man.
To see what the shadow image looks like, go here.
The Rev. Msgr. Christopher Nalty of Good Shepherd Parish - St. Stephen Catholic Church of New Orleans, told The Christian Post that he was not surprised by the response.
"Inside each of us is a great desire for the 'transcendent'; it's hard-wired into our DNA. We are searchers. And Christians are some of the most ambitious searchers," said Nalty.
"We long to see the face of Christ – whether it's in art, the Shroud of Turin, the Holy Eucharist, or in 'least of our brothers.'"
Ursuline Academy was founded in 1727 by the Ursuline Sisters, an order of nuns of which five currently reside at the grounds of the chapel.
Sister Carla Dolce, the head of the nuns at Ursuline, told Religious News Service in an interview that the shadow, though caused by a chandelier, was still a gift from God.
"God gives us gifts. Some are natural. Some are supernatural…This is a natural gift. It's caused by light filtering through a chandelier," said Dolce.
"If, when we experience that image, we feel God's unconditional love for us, that's the greatest gift of all…When we leave the shrine with that experience the world will be a kinder and gentler place."
Regarding the mainstream American response to the image, Msgr. Nalty believed that the answer likely lay in between skepticism and belief.
"The skeptics will ridicule the image as a random coincidence, and some Christian believers will believe it miraculous. The truth is probably somewhere in between," said Nalty.
"Among my parishioners who've seen it, I haven't found any fanaticism. They heard about it, and they dropped by the Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor to see for themselves. I can't possibly see anything wrong with making a devout visit to a church to pray."
Dr. Paul R. Powell, associate pastor for St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church, New Orleans, told CP that the miracle was less about the image itself but rather people's responses to it.
"The image itself is very much like the typical bearded Jesus seen in so many illustrations, and I believe that image is what people want and expect to see," said Powell.
"No one actually knows what Jesus looks like. The miracle, if there is one, is not in the image or what people see, but the sense of devotion it arouses."
Powell also believed that the news of the image at the chapel did not benefit the public image of Christianity.
"The stories, I feel, harm more than help so far as the secular world is concerned," said Powell.