Our Lady of the Chocolate Vat

santacruz and the BVMIf you’ve been a reader of this thing in the past, you’ll probably be aware that I have some interest in the general phenomenon of “sightings,” particularly (but not exclusively, of course) of the marian variety. Well, we now have another.

Cruz Jacinto (or Jacinto Santacruz, depending on the news source) has discovered a likeness of the Blessed Virgin in the form of chocolate drippings. Read the story at the L.A. Times:

“Many See Virgin Mary in Chocolate Drippings from a Vat”

I, of course, am interested in the supernatural aspect of these kinds of things, but I’m also interested in religious symbols and how deeply they embed in our minds. Jacinto’s description of her moment of discovery seemed particularly telling to me (from the Local6.com website):

Kitchen worker Cruz Jacinto was the first to spot the lump of melted chocolate when she began her shift Monday cleaning up drippings that had accumulated under a large vat of dark chocolate.

Chocolate drippings usually harden in thin, flat strips on wax paper, but Jacinto said she froze when she noticed the unusual shape of this cast-off: It looked just like the Virgin Mary on the prayer card she always carries in her right pocket.

“When I come in, the first thing I do is look at the clock, but this time I didn’t look at the clock. My eyes went directly to the chocolate,” Jacinto said. “I thought, ‘Am I the only one who can see this? I picked it up and I felt emotion just come over me.

“For me, it was a sign,” she said.
“Chocolatiers See Virgin Mary”

I laughed when I read the L.A. Times description of the epiphany:

She said her spiritual odyssey began early Monday when she arrived at work to find the little piece of hardened chocolate on a table where it had apparently dripped over the weekend from the spout of a recipe-testing kettle left on. She immediately whipped out an Our Lady of Guadalupe prayer card she always carries in her pocket and was amazed at the likeness between the image on the card and the chocolate.

I’m very interested in this woman’s mindset. She’s named after the holy cross, for goodness’s sake!

I’m reminded of a lecture I went to at the Getty, entitled “Sacred Cloth and Veiled Body,” that ended up focusing on the tilma, with an introductory discussion of the Sudarium, and only some passing references to the Shroud of Turin :( . I was struck by several things about the audience: 1) the auditorium was full, 2) probably about 2/3 of it was Latino, 3) most of these had children with them (which tells me that they probably weren’t coming primarily for the academic interest), 4) the Q&A time at the end (much to my dismay) was dominated by semi-angry defences of the authenticity of the tilma, even though the lecturer, in my opinion, was very gracious and pretty neutral about the spiritual beliefs about it.

The day after the lecture, I began to create a post from it, but never finished. It still appears on every post creation page under “Your Drafts.” Incidentally, I just moved and came acros the notebook I used to take notes in at that lecture (It’s a cool Getty one, translucent blue and white plastic, sweet!). Maybe I’m supposed to pull that draft out of limbo and put it up… We’ll see.

At any rate, it’s always fun to read about these sightings. I think the grilled cheese one is still the best, though.

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