The following story is based on real facts and is as accurate as possible.
a small home in northern Canada, the soft murmur of prayers, in more than
one tongue, rises from a group of young and old, some standing, some
kneeling, in front of a living room window. A small shrine is situated
below, adorned with plastic roses, holy pictures, prayer beads, votive
candles and two small statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. On this
cold evening the door unceasingly opens and closes as a perpetual
stream of pilgrims file through the warm shelter. Outside, the surroundings
are frigid yet serene, as many stand facing the window clutching prayer
beads. Some hold modern camcorders, capturing the stirring scene in
front of them. Quiet whispers ascend from the gathering, expressing
awe and amazement at the beautiful picture before them. The crowd’s
gaze is not fixed on the window, but neither is it fixed on what lies
This has been a characteristic scene
in several remote comminutes across northern Saskatchewan.
So what is it that has drawn over 10,000 visitors to unpretentious
homes in various communities? What causes throngs of pilgrims to come
and touch or even kiss a window? What prompts hundreds to fill churches
and prayer meetings when formerly they were scarcely attended?
A Woman in a Greenhouse
On the crisp autumn
evening of September 9th, 2002, Andre Bouvier
pulled into the driveway of his home, located in the small northern
community of Ile-a-la-Crosse,
Saskatchewan where something in
the back of his yard caught his attention. It was his small greenhouse
he had built of out of scrap wood and windows the year before. Something
in it looked like a person, it was glowing. “Was it a ghost?” he wondered.
Startled, Andre got out of his truck
and walked over to the greenhouse, where he was astonished to find
a glowing full body likeness of a woman on the window. Her arms were
spread open - as if in blessing. He suddenly was overcome by a scent
of something sweet — “Roses! I smell roses,” he thought, “but how
is that possible? There are only tomatoes growing inside the greenhouse!”
To Andre, the image looked like the
Virgin Mary. “It is like the one of Fatima,”
he thought. He began to wonder if someone was pulling a trick on him.
He tried to scrub the image off the window, but the image seemed to
become more distinct and looked as if it was sealed in between the
By hundreds of the community’s residents
had heard the news of the Virgin Mary’s evident appearance. Neighbors
had gotten up from their sleep and were gathered at the Bouvier’s,
some still in their pajamas. The image now glowed with a cross in
the centre. They all stared with disbelief and bewilderment at the
image of what was evidently the Mother of Christ. A cross flashed
in the unclouded night sky, which immediately prompted all those present
to kneel. They began to pray the Rosary, a prayer that they had always
known as a part of their faith and culture since the Grey Nuns came
to Ile-a-la-Crosse over 100 years ago.
More than 50 miles away, on the Indian
reserve of Patchunak, a group of teenagers,
out for a late night walk, began pointing in the direction of Ile-a-la-Crosse
where a glowing halo of soft light seems much different from the usual
The following weeks, throngs of people,
from across the province and beyond, visited the little greenhouse
in Ile-a-la-Crosse who saw many holy figures
and symbols. All who came were seeking a
blessing, even though many were unbelievers before coming. A visit
of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue from Fatima,
which has been to many countries around the world, was scheduled to
visit Ile-a-la-Crosse that coincided with these events. The statue,
followed by a convoy of vehicles a mile long, came to Ile-a-la-Crosse and made an unscheduled stop at the Bouvier’s residence where the phenomena was still occurring.
That night, after the statue had departed, an exact representation
of the statue was visible on the window, seen by a crowd of over one
long after the images had ceased in Ile-a-la-Crosse
similar phenomena in the small Indian reserve of Fond-du-Lac
attracted the entire community of 900 to the living room window of
John and Lillian Pacquette more than 500
km away. John, a champion dog-racer, noticed the images on October
31, but didn’t say anything as he was afraid
people would think he was crazy.
On a cloudy Sunday afternoon, three
days after John first noticed the image, he and his family returned
from church services when his wife and daughter noticed the frosty
likeness of the Virgin Mary. The sun came out unexpectedly and illuminated
the image with rainbow colours. Bewildered,
the Pacquette’s didn’t know what to do.
“I must go and talk to the elders,”
John told his wife, “they will know what to do.”
Upon returning with an elder from the
community, he found his house full of onlookers, all standing inside
and outside of his house gazing at the image on his window. The amazed
crowd began to pray in their native language.
During the next few weeks many people
prayed incessantly in his home that was always open to visitors. The
young people began to have a great interest in the faith of their
parents. Church services now drew hundreds instead of the usual scant
few who attended. Although Fond-du-Lac was
inaccessible by road, flights were chartered from as far away as Yellowknife,
N.W.T. specifically as pilgrimages
to his living room for the purpose of receiving a spiritual blessing.
Photographs of the Virgin Mary on a
window began to leak out of the community and were reproduced by printer
and photocopier. Images were circulated throughout the province by
email, internet and other ways of communication. The phenomena continued
for the next few weeks but the images eventually faded... unlike the
effect of the continuing faith and prayers.
People came from surrounding communities,
including the community of BlackLake, only 30 miles from
Fond-du-Lac. These people had seen the images in Fond-du-Lac, but why did they have a reason to think that the same
things would happen to them?
It was in the late afternoon on Saturday,
November 23, when Mrs. Sandypoint of BlackLake first noticed the
image on her living room window, that she herself believed was the
Holy Mother. Excited, she promptly ran next door to her daughter’s
house to let her know of the wonderful news.
“Marie! Marie! Come over to my house!
There is something I want you too see,” Mrs. Sandypoint said eagerly in her native language of Dené.
Marie followed her mother to the next
“Look at the window. What do you see?”
Mrs. Sandypoint asked.
Marie was bewildered, as she took a
moment to take in such beautiful sight, but as clear as it was, she
couldn’t believe.“Don’t tell anyone until you know for sure what
is going on,” she said, “do you want people to think you are crazy?”
The sun was beginning to set as Marie
tried to scrub the image off from the inside and outside of the window
this had no effect, as it seemed to grow larger the more she tried
to remove it. As the last rays of the sun hit the window, it suddenly
lit up with a display of colour catching
the attention of the several children who were playing in the yard
below the window.
“Look! It’s Mary!” shouted one small
Marie, noticing that the children were
pointing excitedly at the image on the window quieted them and told
them strictly not to say anything. She turned back to take another
glance at the window and as she tried to say something else to the
children, she realized, to her dismay, they had run off to tell the
others who were already beginning to come and investigate what the
ecstatic children had told them.
Frightened, Marie ran home and wouldn’t
even answer the ringing phone. She thought people would think she
was crazy for seeing the Virgin Mary on the window. But after gaining
the courage to go outside, she saw to her overwhelming happiness that
many people were gathered in front of her Mother’s house and they
all were gazing at the Virgin! They sang hymns and prayed in Dené.
“It is true then,” she thought, “she has come to BlackLake!”
The effect on the community of BlackLake after such an event
proved to be more a miracle than the images themselves. Suffering
grief from unexpected deaths due to drugs and alcoholism, many would
return to their traditional Faith and the little Catholic church would
become so packed people would spill out of the doors to hear the Mass.
As the phenomenal images gradually faded, the prayers and hymns continued…
while the faith increased.
After a quiet but prayer-filled December,
people all over Saskatchewan had not thought that the Virgin Mary
would show herself again, but they were not disappointed as they pondered
the events of the last three months. How could they forget all the
wonderful things they had heard and seen?
In a little town of Beauval,
not far from Ile-a-la-Crosse, Christmas
came as it usually did. Many from the area had heard of the events
and Fond-du-Lac but nobody had expected
what would prove to be a multiple occurrence of the Virgin Mary images
in their own vicinity.
Monday night of January 7th, the following year, two separate images
of the Virgin Mary appeared on two houses a block away from each other,
attracting hundreds of onlookers who went back and forth between the
two homes until the early hours of the morning. This was indeed the
fourth place with the phenomena. One of the images had actually been
appearing since December 22nd accompanied by the usual scent of roses.
On this particular Monday, Bertha Durocher
was observing the images with the large number of onlookers who had
gathered at Lillian Aubichon’s home to see
the image of the Virgin Mary. It was almost ,
when she decided it was time to return home and make supper, but upon
pulling into her driveway, she was surprised to find a glowing image
of the Virgin Mary on her own living room window.
“Am I just seeing things?” she wondered.
She decided to ignore it. “What if it was just a reflection or something?”
she asked herself. After making supper she went back to Lillian’s
home to pray, where many from Ile-a-la-Crosse were now present. Again she returned home
to find the image glowing brighter. She wanted to ignore it, but she
felt she had to ask somebody.
“It looks like the Virgin Mary,” said
Bertha’s son, Jesse, as if he were stating a simple fact.
“You are probably just seeing your shadow,”
others said skeptically.
Bertha decided she should just ignore
the image and not talk about it. “Maybe, it will go away,” she thought.
After a few hours, the glowing image became too noticeable to ignore.
It wasn’t until shortly after , that she decided to tell Lillian and
those who had gathered at the nearby house.
Lillian entered the yard with Bertha
and was astounded at the image that indeed looked like the one on
her home. “Shut off the headlights.” she said, thinking that it might
be a reflection; but the aurora coloured image glowed with its own light.
The crowd at Lillian’s soon became aware
of a second appearance and rushed over to Bertha’s house with rosaries
and cameras in hand. Many went to notify others who still continue
to come and pray the rosary in these homes.
These were not the final images in Beauval,
for more manifestations appeared on other windows. Intricate roses,
as if etched by a heavenly artist, appeared below a full body outline
of the Virgin Mary on a window not far from these events. Although
all these cases were similar in their effect of prompting prayer,
they were still interestingly unique. Yet one of the most unique displays
of the images was yet to occur.
t didn’t come as a tremendous
surprise, to those in Beauval, when the
news of another case of the Virgin Mary images hit close to home.
This time it was near the little community of CanoeNarrows. The colourful
six-foot image appeared on a “French door” in the home of Billy Opekekiw who owns the confectionery/gas-station along the
highway just before the little Indian reserve of CanoeNarrows.
Billy and his wife, upon returning home,
walked into his living room where he was astonished to see his entire
glass door, leading out to the deck, fully covered with flowing prism
type colour with interesting curving shapes
and designs. It almost looked like a stained glass window with the
dark contrasting lines and bright areas of colour.
His wife suggested maybe the window
was vandalized, “What else could it be? It wasn’t here before,” she
They began to clean the window with
every possible solvent they could use, but it was no use. It was still
there and it wasn’t going to come off. When the figures they noticed
in the window started to show with surprising clarity, they began
to wonder if this was the same thing that they had heard about in
“People are going to think we are crazy,”
thought Billy, “nobody will believe us!” He decided it was time to
consult an elder, who when seeing the image, knew the Virgin Mary
had indeed come again. The next day hundreds came to the house to
see the figures of Mary and Jesus and saints. On the video recording,
representations of five or six doves hover over the image of the Virgin
Mary. The local priest came and thought the image of seemed to be
that of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the colourful
woman who appeared to the Indians in Mexico
in the 1500’s.
The unexpected phenomena in CanoeNarrows led the Opekekiws
to shut down their store and gas station for more than a week to allow
them to completely open their house for the hundreds of pilgrims who
would come to pray in Cree, English, and French.
As in the other instances of the images,
there were effects on faith, revealed by the 200 people who came to
a prayer meeting in CanoeNarrows instead of the
usual 20. People still come today to pray daily at Opekekiws
Faith, Hope, and Charity
The Images in CanoeNarrows were not the concluding
images, and the experiences shared in this narrative, are only some
of the innumerable that have touched the lives of many throughout
Saskatchewan and beyond.
So how does one conclude an account about continuing events? As the
Virgin Mary images continue to spread, they inspire prayer and a return
to faith, or for some, they bring new faith. These images deliver
hope to many communities suffering from effects of alcoholism, drugs,
abortion, sterilization, and juvenile crime. The hope wipes out hatred,
un-forgiveness, and racial differences bringing compassion toward
Faith is beleiving
and trusting in what is not
seen. So how do the visible images strengthen faith? They strengthen
faith by bringing to light what is unseen or what
is already present. These images show us that the holy figures
depicted on windows are always present with us to hear our requests
and prayers regardless of whether or not they are seen.
Hope originates by believing
or trusting in what is not seen (faith). The multitudes that witness
the images are hopeful that
their prayers will be answered by God, whose designs they believe
are on the window.
Charity (love) is to what faith
and hope direct us. The many who had the
grace of witnessing the images can, more easily, bring compassion
to others since it is easier to love when one has experienced God’s
we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which
are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the
things which are not seen are eternal." —II Corinthians 4:18