In October, 1977, Maria Rubio was making lunch for her husband, Eduardo, when she noticed skillet burns on a tortilla appeared to show a thumb-sized image of Jesus, in profile. Rubio showed the tortilla to her daughter, Rosie, and her sister Margarita Porras, who both confirmed that it looked like Jesus.

While there was a church across the street from Rubio's house in Lake Arthur, New Mexico (in south central New Mexico about 40 miles south of Roswell) there was no priest in residence there, so they took the tortilla to the nearest priest, Rev. Joyle Finnigan, of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, seventeen miles away in Dexter, New Mexico. Finnigan declared the image a "coincidence" not a miracle. (Technically, the image of Jesus was a pareidolion: perception of a vague or obscure stimulus as a recognizable image.) Rubio insisted the tortilla was miraculous, however, and so Father Finnigan blessed the tortilla, but predicted it would soon become moldy.

Rubio took the tortilla home and sandwiched it between sheets of plastic, resting on a cloud-like bed of cotton. She placed the tortilla on a table and erected a small chapel around it. Word spread, and people came to visit. At the shrine, people lit candles, and left flowers, photographs of sick loved ones or retablos (written prayers invoking or expressing gratitute for a saint's intercession). By 1979, over 35,000 people had visited. The shrine is still at Rubio's house in Lake Arthur, but has since been moved out to a wooden shed in the back yard.

Contrary to Father Finnigan's prediction, the tortilla has not become moldy, but the image of Jesus has faded to a few nondescript brown dots.

Rubio's tortilla inspired further sightings. In November 1977, Jesus' image appeared on a tortilla cooked by Ramona Barreras of Phoenix, Arizona, and in March 1983, he appeared on a corn tortilla for Paula Rivera of Hidalgo, Texas. Jesus has also made appearances on such unlikely items as garage doors, billboards and bathroom windows.


Take Route 2 south from Roswell. In Lake Arthur, make the last left on the south end of town: 7th Street. The adobe-colored house is the second on the left side, across from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

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