NEW ORLEANS, LA (CBS/WWL) - The Chapel at Ursuline Academy in uptown New Orleans is now drawing more than a thousand visitors a day, a far cry from a few weeks ago when crowds were scarce. It all changed about a week and a half ago when a shadow appeared in the sanctuary that many say looks like the face of Jesus.
The Ursuline Chapel in uptown New Orleans is home to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor but today and for the past 12 days it has also been home to this.
A shadow on a column next to a statue of Jesus that many say looks like Christ, himself. Charles Davis says, "I think this is just so extraordinary, you know? You can see the crown of thorns on Jesus. You can see his face, it's just very extraordinary."
Word of the image is spreading and people from near and far are coming to see it. The Davis kids came in from Geismar, driven by their parents and a deep faith. Melissa Davis says, "It touched my heart very good and it felt like the whole world needed this and it felt very good."
The Ursuline sisters who run the chapel say the image is explainable to a point. They say it's a shadow cast by light filtering through the chandelier above. If you turn on the chandelier, the image disappears. But what's more difficult to answer is why no one had ever seen it before. Sr. Carla Dolce has been here since she was a boarder at the school. She's been at the chapel since 1944 but says she's never seen the shadow. She says, "No never. And I've been in the sanctuary and have never seen the image, not once."
And she wasn't the first to see it, either. A current Ursuline student was. According to the sister, it was March 22 around lunchtime when one of the students came in to pray. She was in the chapel alone and according to Sr. Carla, at the end of her prayer, she asked God to give her a sign and when she opened her eyes she saw this.
Shocked, the student notified her teacher who notified another and quickly word spread, especially thanks to cell phone pictures. Now, the secret is out and the faithful and curious are coming to see for themselves. Some don't see anything remarkable, but others are left in awe. One visitor says, "I do and not only that I'm moved by it."
But perhaps more importantly, she moved by this the young child on her knees. The elderly woman for whom every breath is a struggle, the religious of other orders, and ordinary religious families all drawn under a common roof by faith during the holiest week of the year for Christians.
Archbishop Aymond issued this statement regarding the shadow, "While this is not an apparition, it is important that we remember that God can use things as simple as the sunlight and shadows to bring hope to people in their daily lives."
He has not personally seen it, but the chapel is usually open during weekdays from about 9 to 6 and Saturdays until the 12:30 mass.