On a recent weekend, more than 20,000 people poured into the hospital’s parking lot to peer up at a window containing an image of Mary holding her infant son. A hospital physician noticed the image two weeks ago and word quickly spread.
Hospital officials said that the image was likely formed when a sealant around the window ruptured, allowing heat and moisture to seep through and leave a chemical deposit.
The throngs of curious and faithful onlookers have caused some problems for the hospital because of the crunch on parking spots and the need for extra security to direct traffic in and out of the grounds. In an attempt to alleviate the congestion, the hospital now covers the image with a tarp except during the evening hours of 5:30-8:30 p.m.
“The hospital respects fully the religious beliefs of the many viewers and is seeking advice from the chancery on what appropriate steps to take,” spokeperson Susan Scherpici said. “The hospital has no official position with respect to the issue of an apparition.
“However, if there is a special message, it is believed by many that the purpose is to affirm the charitable mission of Milton Hospital to continue to serve the sick.”
Rev. Christopher Coyne, a spokesperson for the archdiocese of Boston, told reporters last week that church officials have taken no position about the validity of the image. “If it leads to a deepening of faith . . . it’s a good thing,” he said.
Milton, a town south of Boston, is home to thousands of Irish Americans who moved from places like Dorchester and South Boston in recent decades. Milton Hospital is not a Catholic hospital, but some of the onlookers told reporters last week that the hospital is an appropriate site for the image because it is one of few hospitals in the Boston area that does not perform abortions.
Heavy downpours in Boston this past weekend resulted in a smaller number of viewers. Many of those who did visit the site Sunday evening left flowers at the wall underneath the window, while others said the rosary quietly.