Miracle Mary to lure customers to religious book store

The Virgin Mary -- or a stain said to resemble her -- will greet the Shepherds of Christ Ministries when it moves into an abandoned office building in Clearwater, FL.

The building was formerly the offices of the Ugly Duckling used car company.

The rainbow-colored stain covers nine panes of glass on the building's windows and resembles the outline of a person's head and upper body. Why that outline has been attributed to the Virgin Mary and not Elvis or Hans Christian Andersen (who really would be more appropriate, given the building's former tenants) has not been explained. Faithless experts who've examined the stain believe it was created by corrosion of the metallic elements in the glass. Nevertheless, "Mary" has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors since it was discovered in December 1996.

The Shepherds of Christ -- who purchased the building specifically because of its windows -- have put a statue of Jesus in the parking lot in front of the stain and are holding daily evening prayer services. In addition to their book store, they hope to raise money through donations and by selling tiles that will displayed with the names of donors.

Update: 2004 - Window badly damaged by vandals!

Clearwater, FL- US Highway 19 just north of Drew street on the east side. Across from the Target. From Tampa, take the Courtney Campbell Causeway (60) till it turns into Gulf-to-Bay. Make a right on US 19. It's just passed the stop light on your right (be careful, you have to merge one lane over to continue straight).
Not much to see since it was vandalized.

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