Nobody can say why the Virgin of Guadalupe would appear on a hunk of rock formed millions of years before the birth of Jesus.
But David Nunez says the image is unmistakable -- a bluish-black stain on the football-sized rock outlines what looks like the Holy Mother.
Nunez's father found the partially buried boulder while looking for landscaping rocks in an Oakdale, Calif., orchard. Nunez and his father -- both Catholics from Merced -- insist that it's hard to dispute that the image resembles the famous image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
"Everybody thought it looked like a turtle shell, but once he brought it home, we saw a figure on it," Nunez recalled.
Friends have called it a miracle.
Father Harvey Fonseca, of Livingston's Saint Jude Thaddeus Roman Catholic Church, isn't so sure. He recalled a time when a window in Livingston featured streaks that also seemed to mimic the Virgin Mary.
"People see what they want to see," said Fonseca, who hasn't examined the rock. "It's usually just a coincidence when something looks like something else. For me, it would have to be a great likeness. Then again, God is the one who makes mineral formations, so if he chooses to have an image appear on a rock, he can do it."
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