Virgin Mary spotted in Samoa

Last updated 13:43 17/09/2009
'Vision' on church wall
VISION OF VIRGIN: Hundreds of Samoans have flocked to a church on the island where they believe a vision of the Virgin Mary has appeared.

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A week after Samoans prayed en masse for a safe switch to driving on the left, a vision of the Virgin Mary has appeared.

The Pacific nation stopped this week as hundreds of Catholic believers gathered to worship an image they say is Mary.

At one time, more than 500 people worshipped the vision, which appeared on the wall of a Congregational Christian Church building in the capital Apia on Tuesday.

Believers say the wavering form, shaped like a Coca-Cola bottle, is clearly that of Mary with a rosary in her hands. Others say it looks more like Christ.

Roman Catholic Archbishop, Father Spatz Silva, told the Samoa Observer he was still "investigating" if it was an official vision recognised by the church, but said there was no doubt it was a general message to steer clear of sin.

"This is something people should look deeply into," he said.

"Look at yourself and ask if you are still walking the path Jesus wants us to take."

The newspaper's editor Keni Lesa said he was convinced it was a "good depiction of the virgin".

"It's pretty amazing really," Mr Lesa said. "And it's quite a lot of excitement for us to have something like this just a week or so after the big switch."

The country marked a major national event on September 7 when drivers moved from the right to the left side of the road.

The shift brings Samoa into line with New Zealand and Australia and is aimed at encouraging the 170,000 Samoans living in these countries to export cars home.

An eight-year-old girl became the first casualty of the switch on Saturday when she was hit by a bus after looking the wrong way when crossing the road. An arm was amputated as a result.

Samoa was the first country in almost 40 years to attempt a switch, with several Australian road safety experts warning the people and the roads were ill-equipped to safely handle the move.

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