For years, parishioners of St. John the Evangelist Church didn’t say much about the rust-colored stain running beneath the 12th Station of the Cross painting of Jesus.
Some never noticed it.
Others, without knowing what was causing the mark, didn’t want the 140-year-old Episcopal church to become a roadside curiosity or tabloid headline.
But this spring the church has turned a spotlight on the odd little stain, which in the right light appears to have trickled like blood directly from a painting of Jesus’ crucified feet onto the plaster of the church wall.
On Sunday, the Rev. Nathan J.A. Humphrey’s sermon addressed the “mysterious red mark,” suggesting that, whether of earthly or divine origins, it was evidence of Jesus’ presence in the church.
“For myself, I find that in leading the Stations of the Cross … when I get to the 12th Station, I can’t help but contemplate the meaning of the mysterious red mark below it,” Humphrey told the congregation, according to a copy of his sermon. “I stop, look, pray, and listen. And when I do, what I always hear is, ‘Pay attention. I am here.’ Jesus is here.”
No one at St. John’s claims to know exactly when the stain below the 12th Station first appeared, but long-time parishioner Joan Farmer, 69, said she first noticed it sometime in the late 1990s or early 2000s.
Now roughly 6 inches long, the mark grew over time. At one point, someone tried to either clean it off the wall or figure out what it was made of, Farmer said, creating a large smudge partway down that has since — again, mysteriously — filled in.
“When it was discovered, we all just wanted to keep it private,” said Farmer, who admitted being somewhat ambivalent about the mark’s new-found attention. “I was horrified to see the smudge and that someone was playing with it.”
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SOURCE: The Providence Journal