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Water stain or sign from God? Mexican faithful flock to subway station

station June 22, 1997
Web posted at: 7:22 p.m. EDT (2322 GMT)

From Correspondent Chris Kline

MEXICO CITY (CNN) -- A subway station in Mexico City has become an unlikely shrine for thousands of the nation's faithful, who claim the site is home to an apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's most revered national saint.

Crowds have packed the Hidalgo metro station since people first reported seeing the apparition. Believers line the station, bringing with them offerings of money, flowers and candles in hopes they will be blessed.


Worshippers flock to subway station
video icon 1.1M/30 sec. QuickTime movie

Subway authorities have said the image is nothing more than a water stain on the station floor -- the result of a leak, not divine intervention.

But the archdiocese of Mexico, Father Rogelio Alcantar, has called on an investigation to look into whether the image is indeed a sign from God.

"It's a case we must investigate, but we don't have the technological elements to affirm that it is a supernatural apparition from God," Alcantar said.

Apparition appears at critical times


Mexican Catholics revere the Virgin of Guadalupe above all saints and invoke her compassion for the humble and poor.

The Virgin of Guadalupe first appeared on Tepeyac Hill outside Mexico City in 1531 at a time when the indigenous peoples suffered from disease, warfare and hunger following the arrival of European settlers. Natives recognized her dark skin as being a sign that she was their savior.

Millions of conversions to the Catholic faith have been attributed to the apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Those firm in their faith say it's clear why she has re-appeared. An upcoming election could end nearly 70 years of same-party rule.

"I believe she has come to renew all of us so we can change our way of thinking, our way of life," said one believer.

Added another: "It's a form of awakening, telling us not to follow any more of the confusion that we've known, because important changes are coming."

But others, like sociologist German Plasencia, say it's no coincidence that reports of the virgin's re-appearance are coming so close to the elections.

"It's election time, a time of crisis. Someone will take advantage of this symbol," Plasencia said.


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