Tag Archives: miracles

The Color Changing Rosary


19-year-old S was raised Catholic in Houston, Texas. When she was in 9th grade, she attended her first overnight church retreat. During this retreat, she experienced the Catholic tradition of Adoration, in which the body of Christ in the form of the sacramental bread is displayed for prayer in the church.


During Adoration, S prayed her rosary, which was a gift from her grandmother. It had lavender-purple faux crystal beads. While praying she was overcome with emotion and started to cry. She put the rosary away and went to confession. Once adoration ended, she left the church and returned to a different building where they broke off into small groups to talk about the experience.

S opened up the little white bag containing the rosary and suddenly noticed that the beads were a bright baby blue. She believed that the rosary had changed color during Adoration, coinciding with her intense emotional experience. This belief was affirmed by the adults leading the retreat, who told her that blue is the Virgin Mary’s color, meaning that she must have performed the miracle. S told her story to the whole room (50+ people) and called her mom in tears to tell her about the miracle. This moment was the strongest she had ever believed in God, but it was probably the last moment she ever believed to that extent as well.

The next morning when her mom came to pick her, S pulled out the rosary to show her. Her heart sank as it was purple again. She snuck back into the youth center and realized the grave mistake: it was only the lighting of that room that had changed the color of the rosary. Immediately she felt embarrassed for having believed such a miracle could have occurred. S says that her belief in Catholicism pretty much declined from there, largely due to other factors but also the humiliation of such an underwhelming event.


S thought she had a personal experience of myth, or the occurrence of a miracle, which is central to Catholic mythology. Often, for people growing up in christian communities, they are instilled with expectations for God’s incessant greatness and love for all his creation. Catholicism especially holds the notion of every-day miracles at its core, preaching that the divine can send little miracles, or head-nods, to acknowledge his creation and the hope of their eventual salvation.

The Christian doctrine creates endless promises to its followers, giving them hope for when hope is absent. However, when such promises are not conceived in any way, people tend to drift away from God. It is an underwhelming and confounding experience, which in turn deters followers from Christian doctrine and introduces them into a realm of harsh reality.

S believed she had experienced a miracle, which was so central to her belief system at the time. However, once she realized her miracle was false, she not only snapped back to reality, but also realized the prospect that much more than just the color-changing rosary was an underwhelming lie. Although she mentioned that other factors played a role in her rift from the church, this instance is symbolic of what happens with many when religious beliefs get flipped on their head.

The Story of the Tenrikyo Miracle that Saved My Grandfather

Nationality: American/Japanese

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): Japanese

Age: 23

Residence: New York City, USA

Performance Date: April 13, 2017 (Skype)


Sammy is a 23 year old man, born and raised in New York who is a representative with the Tenri Cultural Institute of New York City.


Interviewer: Good Morning. I never heard of Tenri, can you tell me something about it and a tradition associated with it.


Informant: “Ok ok. The teaching of Tenrikyo (sp)”


Interviewer:  Can you spell it please.


Informant: “that’s T-E-N as in Nancy R-I-K-Y-O, Tenrikyo, ah basically we are taught that our bodies are something that is lent to us from G-D something that we borrow something from G-D The Parent and uh just our minds are our own ah our own. And basically depending on the way we use our minds G-D The Parent will ah show ah us ah the proper way to mature spiritually hum which means basically is to become selfless and in order to do that we basically have to keep our minds from becoming ah or getting rid of our egos basically. And ah what we are taught when we use our minds in selfish manners it is like we are accumulating dust. And when we accumulate dust, we are unable to see our goals as human beings um from what it should be basically. Um and so what we do in the Service the Tenrikyo Service is we ask G-D The Parent to sweep that dust from our minds ah but we are also responsible for our own, you know, how we use it individually. So we have to continue to keep ah fighting ourselves almost not others and fighting ourselves to not to be greedy or arrogant or selfish or anything like that. Ah but if you ever get the chance please read up on and the teachings of Tenrikyo ah it is native to the country of Japanese ah the country of Japan and there is a small town in Tenri where we call our home.”


Interviewer: When did you first become aware of this?


Informant: “Ah actually I was born into the church.  Ah My Father he ah he was I am a third generation Tenrikyo and basically my father he came to New York to spread the teachings of Tenrikyo and he so started at a church in Bayside Queens, and that is where I was born. My my original, my grandfather was the one who kind of started the faith and he ah he has suffered from ah tuberculosis and he was saved miraculously ah through ah missionary who was walking in Japan, a Tenrikyo Missionary and he was taught the same thing what I actually just said.  And ah realizing that it was his own mind that was the problem he kind of replaced his mind and ah decided that even though he was going to die from tuberculosis he might as well die you know saving others.  And when he, he firmly resolved that mind ah, he was saved from his tuberculosis in some way. My father was born and also I was born after that. So it is kind of nice.”


Thoughts about the piece: 

Faith healing belief systems exist in many cultures and modern medicine placebo testing is one way that the power of thought to promote health is being investigated. Tenrikyo is a matriarchal religion founded on miraculous healing. Background can be found here: http://what-when-how.com/religious-movements/tenrikyo-religion-of-heavenly-wisdom/ Another testimonial is: http://tenrikyology.com/343/36-firm-resolution/











Dreaming of Buddha

Context: One of my roommates, when he heard me explaining to a friend about how stressful it was to try and find folklore from different sources, offered some of the stories he knew from his childhood.

Background: This is the story of an accident that happened to my roommate’s mother when she was young.

Dialogue: Um… I don’t remember how old she was, probably between, you know, 10 and 13. Um, she was playing hide and seek, and was in a two-story house, um, and she really wanted to be tough to find, so she climbed up out on the balcony, on the railing I think, and held on to the opposite side of the railing. Um… After that she accidentally let go and fell two stories and… landed on the ground, uh…

What happened after that, when she was unconscious. She had this dream where… uh, it was completely dark. She was looking around, and she could see these demons coming up everywhere, um, including the Devil I think, and so, her reaction was like, “What do I do, there’s demons all around me, there’s total darkness?!?” And then this light appears. I think it’s supposed to be the Buddha, is what she said, and it says, “Hey, uh… Don’t go towards those demons! Come towards me, that’s what you should do, that’s gonna be good.” Uh, so she goes on, she, you know, runs past those demons, heads to the light, and when she comes to, um, her whole family is, like, around her cuz she fell two stories, and they say she is completely unharmed. She gets back up, like, good as new, and, um… ever since then she’s been quite a bit more religious.

Analysis: I debated whether or not this deserved a “miracle” tag based on the fact that a two-story fall resulted in absolutely no injuries. I’m impressed by the fact that a single dream brought about a life-long change, but I suppose it is because views on religion in America and views on religion in Vietnam are different. It would be interesting to hear the dream told from the mother herself, though, just to get as much detail as possible on what happened while she was unconscious.

Dancing at Chalma

My informant is my 74 year old grandmother, who is a language professor born and raised in Mexico City, and currently living and working there. She first used this proverb or saying with me when talking about something that can’t be fixed at all, “ni yendo bailar a Chalma” or “not even going to dance at Chalma”. Here’s her explanation when I asked her what Chalma is:
“Es un pueblito donde hay un santuario donde la gente va a rezar por milagros. Y allí hay un lugar donde unos señores tocan violincillo y donde la gente baila con flores en la cabeza para que les conceda el milagro. Y el señor de Chalma es un Cristo negro que esta allí bailando.”
“Y donde conociste eso de Chalma?”
“Todo el mundo se lo sabe!”
Translation: “It’s a little village where there’s a sanctuary where people go to pray for miracles. And there there’s a place where some men are playing little violins and where people dance with flowers on their heads so their miracle can come true. And the man of Chalma is a black Jesus that’s there dancing.”
“And where’d you learn this about Chalma?”
“Everyone knows it!”

The significance for my grandmother is relatively little, as she’s only been to Chalma as a tourist, but she knows of many people that have made pilgrimages to cure an ailing relative or themselves. The interesting thing about Chalma is that while it is a place people go to pray for miracles, traditionally, there’s also this often-used saying that dismisses it as an option. You can go pray and dance at Chalma if you want, but some things cannot be fixed not even going to dance at Chalma.