IMG_0516Start with a rock that is sticking up out of the water. On the rock, place an oil painting that may have come from the cargo of a passing ship. Make sure that the painting is a Madonna with Child so that you can claim a miracle. Toss in a healing story or two and you can convince the people in the nearby town that Holy Mary wants them to build a church in the middle of the bay! 

That’s exactly what happened, a few centuries back, at the town of Perast on the Bay of Kotor. People brought rocks and dropped them on the spot. Sunken ships were added to the pile (how did they get the ships to sink just there, I wondered?). It took a hundred years, but eventually they got their island. Then they built a church on it, which required another hundred years. It’s a very impressive church full of ornate paintings and silver decor – gifts from grateful recipients of healing miracles over the years. We visited it today as part of our trip to Montenegro.

Miracle stories and the amazing churches that people built using the resulting thank-you gifts are not uncommon in Europe. Of course we always wonder about how much of the story was true. I believe in a God of miracles, so I can’t just dismiss the whole thing. Perhaps He did more miracles in those days because people had more faith, and lacked the education that has made ours an age of skepticism.

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