Front-yard Virgin Mary owner bans public
Remington Park resident Fadia Ibrahim said Thursday that the constant stream of visitors is upsetting her children and creating too much noise and traffic in her neighbourhood.
People have come from near and far to visit the shrine, some claiming they have been healed because of their prayers there, Ibrahim said. Television crews from Detroit have already visited the shrine, and Wednesday night there was a one-hour wait to get close to it.
People who have visited the statue say it smiles by day and weeps oil from its eyes at night.
"If people love the Blessed Mother and they are true Christians, they will stop coming to my home," Ibrahim shouted outside her house.
"Please begin now to go to your own places of worship … maybe in your own home, or places or churches."
Ibrahim has been ordered by the city to remove the shrine after her neighbour complained that dozens of people show up on the street every day to pray in front of it.
Ibrahim, who says the Virgin Mary told her six months ago to erect the shrine, said she will not remove the statue.
"This is my God, and I am not changing my mind," she said.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of London said it isn't getting involved in the situation, since Ibrahim is a parishioner at St. Ignatius of Antioch Orthodox Church in Windsor.
Two-dimensional worship only
Rev. John Ayoub, pastor of the Orthodox church Ibrahim attends, said it does not recognize or worship any statue of any saint.
"Our church only recognizes the veneration of holy icons in painted two-dimensional forms," Ayoub said in a statement posted on the church's website Wednesday.
"Like any claim of miracles, our church requires concrete, scientific proof of such claims. Such investigations take time and deep scientific and spiritual examination before any conclusion may be made."
Rev. Gordon Maitland, an Anglican rector who teaches at the University of Windsor's Canterbury College, said the shrine sheds light a bigger picture.
"People are desperate, perhaps, for hope and for something beyond themselves," he said. "[This] points to perhaps the kind of social disruption we've seen in Windsor, with the closing of industry and people unemployed.
"So perhaps, in a wider sense, we can look at this as a reflection of Windsor and the need that's out there. And for spiritual leaders, this is an opportunity to say, 'How can we reach out to people who are obviously hurting?'"