Unexpected faces

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Jesus in tree bark

 Jesus, knot

Above: A Hindu man found what he believed to be the face of Jesus in a Hawthorn tree in Sussex. Said Sewdutt Maunick: “Something was urging me to come to this end of the garden, because we never sit here. Suddenly I rushed to call my wife, Vijayantimala, and said, ‘Look, I have seen this figure of a man, come and look’.”


Jim Holtz was on his way into the Cash King pawn shop when he saw the face of Jesus in the bark of a silver maple tree. “Am I seeing things?” he asked himself, and walked across the street for a closer look. He thought the image might have been spray-painted onto the tree, but it wasn’t. That’s when he contacted the local media.

The tree, which is in Rochester, a town in New York state in the United States, is outside a clothing factory, and Jim first saw “the Jesus tree”, as locals call it, in October 2005.

“I see it clearly,” said Yomaira Otero, who stood in the pouring rain with six members of her family to see the tree. She pointed out the facial features, including the beard of bark she saw. “He looks like he’s sleeping.” Others found it harder to see the image.

“It’s a sign from God that there should be peace,” said Maria Trinidad, a Rochester resident. “There is a lot of crime here. People should have faith in God. This is God giving us a sign.”

Mark Day, a shipping clerk at the factory, disagrees. He believes the markings on the tree are a coincidence. “I don’t think it’s a message, because God is everywhere,” he said.

Doug Mandelaro, a spokesman for Rochester’s Roman Catholic Diocese, said: “I wouldn’t dare to comment on someone else’s moment of inspiration or religious experience. Religious experience is and always has been a mystery and very personal.”

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About this module

Have you ever unexpectedly seen a picture in the shapes made by clouds, or a face in a pattern of dots? Some people have been taken by surprise by glimpsing the face of Jesus in wood grain, or a snowy field, or shadows.

In these pages we’re looking at some of these strange pictures and the stories behind them. Click and explore among the images on the left. If you know any other pictures or stories, email to let us know via the contact page.

Compiled and written by Simon Jenkins.

Categories: Creativity, Art & image,


Module contents

arrow Unexpected gallery

arrow Jesus of Asparagus

arrow Jesus in tree bark

arrow Clouds form a crucifixion

arrow Jesus in a star cluster

arrow Jesus in a fence shadow

arrow Jesus in snow patterns

arrow Jesus in woodgrain

arrow Jesus in the clouds

arrow Jesus on cloth

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