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Updated: Thu, 31 Jan 2013 21:36:09 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Pilgrims flock to Virgin Mary image in Cape Breton



Pilgrims flock to Virgin Mary image in Cape Breton

Hundreds of people have been visiting a home on the Membertou First Nation where they believe an image of Mary, the mother of Jesus, has appeared on a wall.

Denise Simon, the homeowner, first noticed the 30-centimetre white mark in her bedroom two weeks ago and said she immediately knew it was a silhouette of the Virgin Mary.

"It's brought us closer together," she told CBC News.

"More people are going to church and you know we're saying the rosaries every night. Even people that don't know how to say the rosaries are learning and attending."

There is a photograph of Simon's grandfather, who was a devout Roman Catholic, near the apparent apparition. She said she believes the photo of her grandfather is responsible for the image.

Simon has since converted her bedroom into a shrine.

Maura Anne Walsh, of Sydney Mines, said churches are closing and people are drifting away from religion and she believes the image has appeared to bring people back to their faith.

"A lot of our parishes are closing down. It's really sad. I think she's here with a message of hope," Walsh said as she visited the Membertou house on Thursday.

"It's a grace to be here to witness this and I have no skepticism at all. I totally believe she's here."

Janice Paul, Simon's cousin, has been leading services at the home.

"I believe that our blessed Virgin Mary has come to instil faith and to draw us closer to Jesus and God," she said.

"People are not as faithful as they use to be."

Stephen Augustine, the principal of the Unama'ki College of Cape Breton University, said belief in the Virgin Mary has a large influence on Mi'kmaq Catholics.

"It's causing a lot of excitement. In fact, they've even developed a postcard image of the image on the wall," he said.

"People have come there, they've left rosaries, they've left flowers, they've left little messages on pieces of paper. It's quite an interesting phenomenon."

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