December 19, 1996
Web posted at: 5:30 p.m. EST
CLEARWATER, Florida (Reuter) -- Hundreds of people converged on Clearwater Wednesday to see what they believe is a vision of the Virgin Mary on an office building.
"God is giving us a sign," said Sister Martin, a nun of the Order of Saint Anne in Bangalore, India.
The image, two floors high, first emerged last Thursday on the tinted windows of a finance company office. It glows and shimmers, turning from green to blue, to red, and there is a distinct outline of a head, a hooded robe and most of a torso.
Skeptics say it is caused by the sun reflecting off water left by sprinklers. But others believe it is a true miracle.
"God is telling us it is time to change our ways," said Sister Christian of the same order. "(It) looks exactly like all the paintings of the Blessed Mother."
As the nuns moved closer to the window, reciting the Holy Rosary, dozens of people crowded around, some on their knees in prayer, others just curious. The wall in front of the image has become a shrine, piled with candles, photos of children, handwritten prayers and funeral notices.
Police barricaded the front entrance of the building, which during the morning rush hour, creating gridlock.
By early Wednesday morning the parking lot was full of mothers and children, elderly couples, people in suits or work clothes and youths who had camped out all night. A local radio station has threatened to send people to the building to clean the windows.