- ORIGINAL STORY / IRISH CATHOLICS CAMPAIGN TO SAVE VIRGIN MARY TREE STUMP / CLICK HERE
- COLUMN / KELLY FINCHAM: UNEMPLOYMENT, SHRINES AND EMIGRATION / CLICK HERE
Thousands of Catholics are making the pilgrimage to Rathkeale, County Limerick where believers claim workmen uncovered a tree stump that depicts the Virgin Mary.
While cutting down old trees on the grounds of the Holy Mary Parish Church on Monday, a “holy stump,” which many witnesses say shows a clear outline of the Holy Mother cradling baby Jesus, was discovered.
Ever since, religious people from across Ireland have been flocking to the site, hoping to get a glimpse of the “miracle.”
Buses have been chartered to bring worshippers to the site. On Wednesday, 700 people held a candlelit vigil around the stump, and the crowds are only getting bigger each day, bringing their rosaries and their prayers with them.
Over 2,000 people signed a petition preventing the tree from being dug out of the ground, and now the locals are calling for the stump to be encased in glass.
Rathkeale graveyard committee chair Noel White revealed the nature of the discovery of the tree. He said: "One of the lads said, 'Look, our Blessed Lady in the tree,’ and another of them got such a shock that he actually knelt down and blessed himself.
"It was the perfect shape of the figure of Our Lady, holding the baby.
"It's phenomenal. People are coming in from all over the place."
Rathkeale parish priest Fr. Willie Russell continues to urge Catholics not to worship the inanimate object. "I've seen the tree - it's only a tree,” he said.
The Irish tree stump discovery is the latest in a long line of alleged sightings of the Virgin Mary. In the past, it’s been claimed that visions of the Holy Mother have appeared in rocks, pizzas and slices of toast.