Crowds have been gathering near a church in Artesia the past few days after an unusual stain that bears a resemblance to the Virgin Mary appeared on a sidewalk on Wednesday — the same day Catholics celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The image was spotted on the 1800 block of Clarkdale Avenue by parishioners returning to their car from an early morning mass at the Holy Family Catholic Church in celebration of the feast day, according to Father John Cordero, the church's pastor.
"I was able to see it myself about four hours later, then it took a life of its own. People started to come over, put candles, started to pray the rosary. It has been a place of great interest in the past few days."
On the first day, the image was contained within a puddle that never fully evaporated despite bright, sunny weather, Cordero said.
The puddle remained the second day, then on Friday the water disappeared and the likeness became more pronounced, according to the pastor.
In the Catholic faith, the Virgin of Guadalupe or Our Lady of Guadalupe is the title given to a series of appearances the Virgin Mary is believed to have made to a peasant in Mexico in the 1500s, asking that a church be built at the site in her honor. It's since become one of the most visited Catholic sites in the world.
"The pattern in the ground is a sign, a symbol," Cordero said of the image near his church. "Symbols would often point us to something, and with this symbol it points us to remind us about the blessed Mother, who is of course the mother of Jesus."
Margarita Ceballos said she learned of the "apparition" when she was passing the area to take her daughter to school and saw a mass of people surrounding the area, which had already been marked with a ring of candles. She said it's the first time she's seen something like this in person.
"It's incredible," Ceballos said. "I can't believe I can see it. It's incredible."
She said she gets a "nervous" feeling when looking at it.
"It's hard to explain to you, because it's incredible," she told KTLA. "What can I say? I don't know."
Trinity Panawash said she came to the site with her grandpa, who heard about it through a friend and on the news. She said she was a bit skeptical before coming, but changed her mind after seeing it.
"It's a miracle," Panawash said. "This isn't an everyday thing that you just see. It's very amazing, very rare."
Irene Banuelos said she sees it as "a message that God is watching."
"I'm sure everybody thinks that it's like a blessing," she said. "It is very difficult to explain."
Still, Father Cordero said, the faithful don't necessarily need such an effigy to feel God's light in their lives.
"We all can be signs; you don't have to look at the pattern in the ground," he said. "We too can be signs of kindness and goodness, of God's presence in our lives."