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Mary in cyberspace

Special to the National Catholic Reporter
Dayton, Ohio

There are literally dozens of home pages dedicated to Marian interests. These range from the genuinely creative and endearing to the really strange.

One page, for instance, is dedicated to stories about rosaries changing to gold, believed to signify that their previous owners now rest in heaven.

The University of Dayton created one of the first Mary pages 18 months ago -- a page that is both comprehensive and scholarly. The page now gets 1,000 hits per week and two E-mails a day with comments like this:

  • "I am an 8-year-old girl and at my school this year we have decided to play down Halloween and play up All Saints Day. I am going as Mary. What should I wear to REALLY look the part?"
  • "I am a conservative Protestant writing to tell you that you have missed the boat. Do you not understand that Christ is central to the life of a Christian and not Mary?"
  • "I am a college student with a presentation due in 24 hours about how Chaucer treated Mary throughout his works. What should I tell them?"
  • "Our parish hopes to establish a week of celebrations to honor and learn about Mary. Can you design a plan for us that could include a series of events for this?"
  • "I live in an area of Finland where there are just very few Catholics. I'm writing to tell you how happy I am to establish a link to someone else who understands very well something that is essential to my life -- my Catholic faith."
  • "I'm a student at Harvard Divinity School needing very specific artistic details regarding the physical design of rosary beads from the 14th century."
  • "Can you come up with a patron saint for realtors? If so, you should select a saint who is forceful, a good talker and really understands crazy financial situations. Also, you should pick someone who can really BS."

National Catholic Reporter, November 22, 1996