Photo credit: Saint John the Evangelist, via Facebook.
Various news outlets in Rhode Island are reporting on the persistence of a stain on the wall of a Newport church which is seen by some parishioners as a direct sign from God.
The stain descends from the center of a painting depicting the crucifixion of Christ, hung as part of a Stations of the Cross series.
Faithful parishioners at Saint John The Evangelist believe a six-inch mark on the wall under a painting of Jesus looks like blood dripping from his feet — as if his blood is transcending the canvas.
On the church’s Facebook page, the Rev. Nathan Humphrey, Vicar of the Episcopal mission church, is less concerned with how the stain got there than with its potential for deepening faithful devotions, outreach, and evangelism.
My main talking points to anyone who asks are:
1. Its meaning to me is that Jesus is present at St. John’s, whatever the case is with the mark itself.
2. I hope people are inspired by it to realize that Jesus’ crucifixion is not merely an event that happened over 2000 years ago, but breaks into the here and now. Jesus’ blood poured out for us empowers us to share his life giving presence with the world around us.
3. The church is open every day to all to come and see for themselves. The best way to make up your mind about it, either as a scoffer or a saint, is to come and see. At the very least, it gets you thinking! And for some people, it connects their hearts and their heads in ways that even the most moving art on its own does not.
4. The church is experiencing the presence of Jesus in a revitalization and congregational renewal. We are reaching out to our neighbors in new ways and they have been a blessing to us even more than we have yet been a blessing to them.
5. The presence of Jesus is mediated to us most importantly through the Mass at 8 & 10 a.m. on Sundays. We meet Jesus every Sunday in Word & Sacrament at St. John’s. We have a new choir school and are recruiting boy and girl choristers, so the best time to check out the 12th Station is at 10 on Sunday morning! We are ready for you at St. John’s.
Humphrey says that he has no plans at present to test the stain to determine its origins, although he is open to others testing it for themselves.
Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisely has advised the church to let the matter “unfold,” Humphrey said.
Read more about the stubborn stain and reactions to it here.