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From the Back Pew: Finding miracles within miracles

August 04, 2010|By Michael J. Arvizu

So-called miracles and apparitions seem to be a dime a dozen, popping up all over the world in some way, shape or form — from the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe on a grilled cheese sandwich, to an appearance of Jesus Christ on an oil stain on a garage floor.

A movie was even made about it in 2008, "Henry Poole Is Here," starring Luke Wilson, that focused on the protagonist's acceptance that miracles may just be possible — in the form of a stain shaped like Jesus on the side of his garage.

Whenever I hear stories about grilled cheese and oil stains, I can't help but roll my eyes. But a story about a local statue "weeping" piqued my interest as a reporter because I wanted to chronicle the family's reaction to this event. As a person of faith? Not so much. I take comfort in the lessons I've been taught that the best kind of faith is the kind you need not see to believe. It's the greatest mystery of our faith.

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As such, many questions raced through my mind as I drove toward the home of Anahid Sallakian on a quiet street in Glendale.

But the one thing that I was itching to ask her was, "Is this a hoax?"

Sallakian is the owner of a roughly foot-tall statue of the Virgin Mary. Late on July 19, while Sallakian was reciting her daily prayers to Mary, the figurine began to secrete oil from its porcelain skin.

When I arrived at her house, Sallakian seemed to be suffering from borderline exhaustion after receiving visitors all day, fielding similar questions. I knew I had to approach the question tactfully, lest I get kicked out of her house for being rude. (We faithful can sometimes be sensitive!) Nevertheless, I wanted to take a peek at what could be the first event of its kind in Glendale.

So I asked her: "What would you say to people who believe that this could be a hoax?"

"I don't say nothing," Sallakian said. "If you don't believe, I'm not sending you an invitation to come and see."

What she means is that she's not forcing anyone to come view her statue, although she has received at her home believers and nonbelievers alike.

The statue, Sallakian says, was given to her by her sister-in-law after a visit to Our Lady of Harissa Church in Beirut, Lebanon, about a decade ago.

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