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Post Info TOPIC: Irish Catholics flock to Limerick church's tree stump, see image of Virgin Mary

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Irish Catholics flock to Limerick church's tree stump, see image of Virgin Mary

Thousands of Irish Catholics have flocked this week to a County Limerick church to pray at the stump of a recently cut willow that many observers say, has the silhouette of the Virgin Mary.

The phenomenon at St. Mary's parish church in Rathkeale, population 3,000 or so, harkens back to decades when Catholic devotion and pilgrimages were the dominant feature of rural life in Ireland.

Some are tying the fervor for Rathkeale's "Holy Stump" to Ireland's stunning economic decline over the past year.

"People have been crying out for something good to happen. And this is all good for the soul," said Noel White, who has been overseeing a church project to cut down trees dangerously overhanging the neighboring school playground.

When one willow was felled near the church entrance Monday, he said, a major branch cracked off and made "a funny shape." One worker cut through the stump at a near-vertical angle, revealing a wooden relief that inspires some to see the Virgin Mary.

"One lad beside the one who'd made the cut immediately saw the outline of Our Lady and blessed himself. It really is unreal. Every one of us could see it," he said.

The workman who made the cut, Anthony Reddin, said he doesn't see the Virgin Mary.

"I see it as the grain of a tree myself," he said.

Nonetheless, word of mouth brought about 100 to inspect and pray at the stump that first night. Numbers swelled to several hundred the next night. By Wednesday, more than a thousand came and went as a makeshift shrine of candles, rosaries and miniature statues of Mary grew. The praying continued past 2 a.m. Thursday.

Read complete article and see pictures at



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Posts: 213

a tree stump? really


Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead. For anything is better than a life standing still.

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