Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Christ Image Drawing Faithful Bradenton Apparition Has Some Vexed

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Christ Image Drawing Faithful Bradenton Apparition Has Some Vexed

Article excerpt

BRADENTON -- Not everyone seemed to be getting a sense of the spiritual from a Christlike image that mysteriously appears on the outer wall of a church when the wall is wet.

Church officials believe it is a miraculous event and use a garden hose to spray the wall regularly during the day for the curious and believers who come to Palma Sola Presbyterian Church to gaze upon the image.

Some people, however, call the water police to complain.

Much of Florida's central Gulf Coast is under strict water use restrictions because of a prolonged drought. And the church where the 15-foot-tall image first appeared Wednesday is in Manatee County, in the midst of the restricted area where lawn watering is limited to one day a week.

The chest-length picture resembles a traditional portrayal of Jesus -- bearded, long hair and a halo. It only appears when the cream-colored brick wall is wet. The image itself, ironically, is dry -- which is what makes it stand out. The wet part of the wall turns a darker hue. When the entire wall dries, the image disappears.

After getting the complaints Thursday, Manatee County officials did some checking and told church officials they found nothing in the regulations governing water use at religious facilities.

"Right now we've got a go-ahead," said Shelley Dennis, wife of pastor Richard Dennis. "We're in a gray area. We don't want to be in violation, but we do want people to see it."

Yesterday, as many as 50 people at a time came to view the image.

For Dennis, 55, there was no indecisiveness. "For me it is the traditional image of Jesus -- the image believers have grown up with. Someone who is not a believer would just say it's an image of a bearded man."

The church wall was built in the early 1970s. The image suddenly appeared while the wall was being pressure-washed. Elders and longtime churchgoers say there was never a painting, mural or picture there, on the outer east wall of the sanctuary. …

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