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February 15, 2003

Mass hysteria in Cogee beach

Miranda Devine in the Sydney Morning Herald has a good overview of the latest religious craze to hit Australia - visions of the Virgin Mary on a fence at Coogee beach! (The flock of people who have descended there to see the fence has also been provoking some irate locals to vandalize it)

6000 people descended on the spot the weekend after the first attack. And even before the council fixed the fence, old Greek women could still see Mary standing on the clifftop.

From all over Sydney, people have come to place flowers, photos, letters, holy cards, rosary beads and candles at the shrine that has sprung up at the base of the fence, which doglegs along the clifftop above Giles Baths.

On Friday, when the sun broke through the clouds at about 3.30pm, gasps went up from the crowd 100 metres across the sand as the white blob above the freshly painted fence came into view
A woman rushed towards me shouting with excitement: "Ave Maria! Did you see her?"

Three Tongan-Australian women sat on the brown grass, eyes closed, saying the Hail Mary over and over in a low singsong.

"I think it's marvellous," said John Randall, 64, a builder from Eastwood. "It's getting people together, getting them to pray. The world is in a hell of a mess at the moment and prayer is very important

Only in Australia do you get sightings of Mary near a beach .... anyway these are my favourite lines from the piece:

Cherry says she is not religious, but is an astrologer. "I looked at it with a very sceptical eye indeed. But how do you explain it?" ...

Cherry says the morning after the fence was first attacked, six dolphins were seen frolicking off the point. A friend of Bali victims Gerry and Steve Buchan, she says the number is significant because six members of the Coogee Dolphins were killed in Bali.

"I don't know what it all means," says Cherry. "But I do know the people who are vandalising the fence are being disrespectful to the people who died in Bali."

Posted by jason_s at 02:41 PM