A pareidoliec blast from the past

After attending the ASCO Meeting in Chicago over two weeks ago, I can’t believe I forgot to post about this. More than two years ago, back in my favorite city (Chicago), a vision of the Virgin Mary appeared. It appeared, oddly enough, as such visions are wont to do, in a rather mundane spot. Specifically, it appeared under a freeway overpass where W. Fullerton Avenue passes under the Kennedy Expressway.

As I was heading to the airport on my way out of the city, traffic happened to be better than I had expected, leaving me with some time. I decided, therefore, to head back to the area and see if the vision was still there. So what did I see as I drove under the overpass?

Well, it was cloudy out and I couldn’t tell if the stain still resembled the Virgin Mary driving by. However, what I did see was that, more than two years later, there was still a little makeshift shrine there, flowers and crosses placed next to where (I guessed) the stain must be. Unfortunately, I had packed my camera, and I didn’t have time to look for a place to park so that I could examine the phenomenon on foot and perhaps snap a few pictures.

Oh, well, c’est la vie.

I can, however, assure you that two years later this “vision,” or at least its after effect, still lingers under a nondescript concrete overpass in Chicago.


  1. #1 llewelly
    June 23, 2007

    There was an “Our Lady of Guadalupe’ tree in Salt Lake City that lasted much, longer than that. It was identifiable (and much more so than any pic of that overpass Mary I ever saw) at least as early as 1995 (when I first saw it, though I had heard of it some years before), and was still so (despite some defacement) last time I saw it in 2003 or so.

    If you live with an artist – or have some imagination – it does not take long to realize we live our lives surrounded by things pareidolia can make appear recognizable as an image or vision of something unique or interesting. So far, none of the ones that have made internet fame have been any better than what you can see in an hour’s time on any partly cloudy day.

  2. #2 coz
    June 23, 2007

    Reminded me of this kookyness at Coogee beach, Sydney a few years ago. I used to live next to that headland and all I saw were lots of drunken sunburnt English backpackers. Hardly a relevation.


  3. #3 PlanetaryGear
    June 23, 2007

    I had a wonderful conversation with my 6 year old daughter the other night, at about 2am. She was frightened at perceiving a face in the way things were stacked on some shelves in her room. We turned on the light and saw that there was nothing there and had a chat about pareidolia and about how our brains are wired to see faces, even when there aren’t any there. She seemed to like having a name for what was frightening her and knowing it wasn’t real.

    Course, she’s 6 so she still gets frightened, but now instead of just telling me she’s scared she tells me she’s having pareidolia. Kids are so terrific 😀 It’s impossible to be angry with them at any time of the night when they can use words like that!

  4. #4 Melissa G
    June 24, 2007

    PlanetaryGear, that’s the greatest story I’ve heard all week! I will definitely be using your straightforward approach when my own little boy starts seeing scary faces in his bedroom.

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