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"Hail" Mary
Posted In: Unexplainable Weather  7/29/11
By: Chris Capps

The story of divine apparitions appearing in grilled cheese sandwiches has long been a point of humor among those sharing the anecdotes with others.  And while the idea of trees bearing the image of Christ and areas of fog on windows may provide some more credibility than the others, there is at least one case from France in 1907 that said the figure of the Virgin Mary appeared in split hailstones which fell by the thousands on a small village.  The case remains unexplained to this day.

The story, which was run in the Galveston Daily News weeks later, shared the account of several witnesses who confirmed that the event had not only happened, but was even more spectacular than it sounded to distant readers.  The amassed witnesses, according to the news outlet, numbered 107 and each were convinced the events were paranormal in nature.

Not only that, but the religious population were thoroughly convinced that the event was a direct message to the city council’s decision to cancel a parade that had been scheduled to honor the Virgin.  It’s unknown if the divine intervention was enough to move the city council to change their minds, but there is another interesting point to the story - and that’s the reaction of the scientific community.  The “official” scientific explanation at the time was that a fungus had entered the clouds somehow either carried by wind or some other force like a small cyclone.  As the fungus was airborn, it was held aloft by very strong air currents and spread through the clouds until it fell back to Earth when the droplets fell and hardened from the intense cold.  When asked why the images were all in the form of the Virgin Mary, the scientists replied that it was a simple matter of divine intervention.

Things may have changed quite a bit in the past 100 years, and scientists are more comfortable with answering questions with a simple, “I have no idea.”  And just as mystifyingly this explanation has had to suffice since then as few have been able to discover why such precise images would be found inside split hailstones.  Of course there is some possibility that the hailstone images were simply interpreted to be miraculous when in reality the human mind was filling in the gaps to make them truly interesting.  But even this explanation seems to leave some doubt, as the villagers said the hailstones all split directly down the center when they landed and had very precise and intricate images frozen within.  Much like the faces of Belmez, or the thousands of apparitions that have appeared throughout time showing human faces, this case seems somewhat lacking when the best skeptical explanation is a simple matter of simulacra.

But what if there was some other middle road?  What if there was a force in the universe that somehow was affected by human thought or culture and created images in the likeness of things we wanted to see?  Such a phenomenon may or may not be attributable to a divine being of any nature, but it would certainly be far from the comfortable realm of science as it exists today and hint at the possibility of an intelligent universe, or at least an envelope of intelligence surrounding our own world and yet persisting outside of mankind’s ability to explain.


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