In observance of the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, today’s post is about the “Virgin tree” in Salt Lake City. This is my recollection of the origin story as it was passed orally to me by someone who had heard it from the woman in question: A woman waiting for the bus looked up and saw that on the stump of a branch recently removed by the city was a stain in the shape of the Virgin of Guadalupe. As word spread, people transformed the bus stop into a popular shrine, leaving votive candles all over the bus stop benches. Someone built wooden steps leading up to the stump; city officials worried this was unsafe, so the city replaced the wooden steps with metal ones. They also moved the bus stop.
Shortly before the 2002 Winter Olympics, someone vandalized the tree, gouging out the stain. The shrine persisted, however; as sap accumulated in the gouged-out area, people collected it for healing.
Remembering SLC’s “Mary tree” (Salt Lake Tribune)
This YouTube video shows the tree and the gouged-out stump, along with a photo someone had left showing the original stain. The guys who made the video are assholes (as you’ll see if you watch), but at least they’ve left us some decent footage.