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Vandals Tear Down ‘Virgin Mary’ Fence Post • Wednesday February 12, 2003

Reuters, Feb. 11, 2003

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Vandals have torn down a fence post in Australia’s largest city, Sydney, which devoted Catholics had begun to flock to because they believed it projected an image of the Virgin Mary.

Dominic Sullivan, the mayor for the area around Coogee beach in the city’s east, said Monday that council workers were putting the fence post back up but he could not give a watertight assurance to devotees that the image would return.

“It’ll be pretty close to where it was before, but I can’t guarantee the miracle, I can’t guarantee that I can get the Lady back. But I tell you what, it’ll be a great coup if I could,” Sullivan told Reuters.

Believers say the white fence post on a cliff over the beach at Coogee showed a profile of the Virgin Mary in a shawl when viewed from about 300 meters (yards) away.

Some say she appeared to comfort Australians worried about a potential U.S.-led war on Iraq, but that has not prevented angry confrontations between devotees and skeptics at the site.

Mayor Sullivan said media reports that someone had also chained a toilet bowl to the post appeared not to be true.

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