Is Blood Seeping from Painting of Crucifixion? Jun 4, 2015 22:24:58 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Jun 4, 2015 22:24:58 GMT -5
Is Blood Seeping from Painting of Crucifixion?
NEWPORT, R.I. – For years, parishioners of St. John the Evangelist Church didn't say much about the rust-colored stain running from 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, May 31, 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."
St. John's was founded in Newport's Point neighborhood in 1875 and the 14 images depicting the Stations of the Cross came from Belgium in the 1920s, Humphrey said. They were painted directly on tin, mounted in wood frames and embedded in the plaster. Theoretically, the tin of the painting could account for rust, if that is what it is, leaching out onto the wall, Humphrey said, but the fact the Stations can't be removed from the wall makes it difficult to tell.
Humphrey, who said he hadn't noticed the stain until it was pointed out by frequent visitor Daryl Gonyon, of Fall River, said he doesn't intend to test the stain to see what it is made of, but says anyone who wants to do so is welcome. Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisely has advised the church to let the matter "unfold," Humphrey added.
When he arrived as vicar in August 2013, Humphrey was tasked with revitalizing St. John's, which, like many New England churches, was grappling with an aging and shrinking congregation. Since his arrival, he said average Sunday attendance has grown from 25 people to 60 and annual donations from around $50,000 to $250,000 last year. In a way, openly discussing the 12th-Station stain is part of Humphrey's effort to get people thinking about the church, and he said it has already drawn a few pilgrims. "I'm not about to put up velvet ropes and sell tickets," Humphrey said. "But whether one scoffs or not, for those of faith, it is a sign Jesus is present."
Source: Patrick Anderson, The Providence Journal, June 2, 2015.