Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Modern Miracle in Yankalilla (South Australia)

Nestling into the rolling hills outside Adelaide, among sheep, cattle and, Yankalilla is a quiet, historic town. In the week that Australia’s first saint, Mary MacKillop is due to be canonised in the Vatican, tiny Yankalilla still hosts the first small schoolhouse built by St Mary’s Sisters of St Joseph order around 150 years ago.

However it is for another religious miracle that the town is known. In a humble and elegant stone church, an image of the Virgin Mary cradling the crucified Christ emerged from the wall of the church in 1994.

Looking carefully, a visitor can make out the familiar Pieta scene of an angled view of a slightly stooped Mary comforting Jesus, made famous by the superb Michelangelo sculpture in St Peter’s in the Vatican (shown below). Lit by the striking stained glass windows in the afternoon sun, the area has been left unpainted and framed to highlight the event.

Unusually, the event has occurred in an Anglican church – one of only two Anglican Marian shrines in the world (the other is in Britain). The location has become a pilgrimage site with visitors from all around the world arriving to view the venerable image or to collect holy water available from the church well.

As a sidelight, the Christening font originally came from Salisbury Cathedral in England and is 100 years older than the church and has a fine collection of graffiti from folks in earlier times who scratched their names into the marble.

Whatever your beliefs around such events, the picturesque and sparsely populated peninsula is sprinkled with world-class wineries and stunning beaches, now coupled with a hallowed and mysterious image in a humble stone church.

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Lifecruiser Travel Blog said...

Wow, what an original little stone church! I love findings like that when on a trip.

Emma said...

Fantastic! Even more unbelievable that this has not been mentioned with the current news of the cannonisation.

Barbara Weibel said...

Oh, I want to know more. How did this emerge? Was it there all the time and someone just finally spotted the resemblance to the famous sculpture. Or did the rock somehow morph into the image?

Mark h said...

@lifecruiser: It is very cute.

@emma: The church isn't associated with Mary MacKillop being Anglican (though the nearby schoolhouse is). Though the press has been full of Saint Mary, I don't think most go into much research.

Mark H said...

@barbara: I can only assume that someone first visualised the image in 1994 but there was precious little detail at the church when I visited some years ago. Maybe it was after the wall was painted or the lighting somehow changed that it became more apparent. I, too, would love to know more.

Anil said...

I wish I could see the image, I sort of do but sort of don't. Argh!

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