Unexpected faces

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Jesus in woodgrain

 Board Jesus

One Wednesday night in January 1999, parishioners gathered at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Wareham, Massachusetts, to do some decorating on the third floor. Some of the women made a start on staining the cupboard doors.

George Funnell was working next door on the bathroom when he heard one of the women exclaim, “Oh my God, Jesus, I’m so sorry I called you ugly.”

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” said George, thinking that his fellow-worker was swearing.

He went into the room to find Roseanne Leverone standing in front of one of the cupboard doors. On the door, a previously unnoticed image had emerged as the wood stain soaked in - a face with familiar long hair, parted in the middle, and a beard.

Roseanne explained that when she had started on the door, she had thought the wood grain was very unappealing. “All I kept saying was, ‘This ... door ... is ... ugly.’” But then the wood stain took effect. “It’s a miracle, a real miracle!” said Roseanne.

The church’s rector, Rev Cuthbert Mandell, was not so sure. ‘I don’t know what it is and I don’t know what it is not,’ he told a local newspaper.

The church now has the door displayed on a wall in the church. “It’s a piece for meditation,” Rev. Mandell says. “The fact that it makes people think of God and Christ, that’s a positive thing. It keeps the thought before us.”


Reve. Cuthbery Mandell, Rector of the church, with the image.

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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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