Reported on July 1, by The Brownsville Herald, this story about a Virgin Mary tree in Brownsville, Texas, dates back many decades. Charlie Davidson, 89-years-old, owns the house where the town’s most famous tree stands. I guess the house has been in the family for a while, because Davidson remembers his brothers planting the seedling “years ago, under the watchful eye of their mother.”
Neighbors discovered the Virgin Mary likeness in the tree over ten years ago, and the discovery attracted huge crowds (though today only a few people a week stop to pray in front of the tree). Back in May, however, Davidson returned home to discover the fire department, and the smoldering tree. According to the article, someone had used a San Alejo candle, which was inside of the tree, to light a firework, and then ignite material stuffed in one of the tree's holes. A small fire started. To everyone’s delight, the tree suffered little damage, but it has left Davidson to face a difficult decision.
He had recently put his house up for sale, but because of the fire he has put his plans on hold. The gawkers used to bother him, but over the years, Davidson has come to appreciate the devotion of the people who take the time to visit the tree. He’s concerned that the home’s new owners may not bestow the same degree of reverence upon the tree that he and the community have over the years. While it is not clear from the article why Davidson has thought about moving, he does attribute his longevity to his “religious convictions.” Sounds to me like he and the house still have some years together.
Since embarking on this project, the stories in Madonna of the Toast have impressed me because of their lasting power, but this story outlasts them all: from a seedling to a “huge tree” to a religious phenomenon.