Jesus, on sale at Walgreens for $19.95
Justice woman sees Jesus in rainmaker
August 2, 2007 By Angela Caputo Staff writer
The rainmaker sitting on Jeanne Purtell's kitchen table at her home in Justice didn't seem extraordinary.
Then she flicked on a switch and the machine lit up and began to hiss.
"There it is," she said, outlining the features of a face with her index finger.
"Do you see it?" she said with a hint of hesitation in her voice. "There's the Jesus."
Purtell bought the gadget at Walgreens for $19.95 a few years back to soothe her through a bout of depression.
It stopped working about a year ago after the hose broke. And that's when the holy figure appeared.
"One day the rain stopped and there was Jesus," the 54-year-old said. "I tried to wash it off three times, but the Jesus keeps reappearing."
Purtell has invited a handful of religious figures into her home to share what she sees as a "blessing" from God. She's also taken it to various church groups throughout the Chicago area.
In a world full of skeptics, she's gotten mixed reactions.
"Some people see it. Some people don't," said Purtell, who describes herself as religious but not "a holy roller."
The Archdioceses of Chicago gave her the most alarming advice earlier this summer when they told her to burn it -- not toss it or bury it -- because it could be demonic, she said. She sees it as something far less sinister.
If Jesus appeared in a tortilla and a grilled cheese sandwich, then why not a rainmaker, Purtell said. "Maybe that's why it came to me, because I do believe."
While he hasn't fielded too many calls like Purtell's, the Rev. Patrick Lagges, of the Archdioceses of Chicago, said he has no doubt she and many others have found religious figures in everyday objects.
"Most of it has to do with their own spirituality," Lagges said. "And it's something they take comfort in."
There's no harm in hanging on to them. But out of respect, the figures should be burned rather than discarded, he added.
Purtell admits that she feels as if people might perceive her as "a nut" for claiming Jesus appeared in her south suburban home.
But she said she's not deterred because "we get a lot of bad news. We need a little good news, too."
"The powerful have always created false images of the weak."