QUESTA, N.M. (KRQE) – They were worried their historic church was going to meet the wrecking ball.
They fought to save it and won.
Now, the work to restore the church has revealed something that has parishioners saying, “We told you so.”
“It is something special, something special for this community,” said Esther Garcia, former mayor of Questa.
Like Garcia, dozens of people are visiting St. Anthony Catholic Church in Questa this week to take a look.
“It kind of just like, it just hit me,” Garcia said. “To come here to see it, I have to tell you, I had to cry. They’re happy tears, yes, very much so.”
Mark Sideris, the coordinator of the church restoration project, helped make the discovery that is attracting all the attention.
“I felt very distinctly seeing a lamb being cradled in the arms of Mary,” he said. “In my mind that is the Lamb of God and his Mother Mary.”
Sideris said he was working with a handful of others on Monday when he first noticed it.
“Our main saw man made a mistake and, as a result of making that mistake, we had to turn the timber sideways and re-cut it,” Sideris said.
But he said when he noticed the image of Virgin Mary in the beam, he realized it wasn’t a mistake after all.
“This bolsters the energy to see, ‘Wow, we’re on the right path here,’ and we’ve been given this as a reminder,” Sideris said.
To understand the reaction, you have to understand the history.
St. Anthony Church has largely been at the center of the Questa community from generation to generation for more than 170 years.
So, when a wall collapsed in 2008 and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe said it would be too expensive to remodel the old church, the parishioners fought for permission to do it on their own dime.
They say the apparition of the Virgin Mary is proof they are not alone in their mission.
The crew says it still plans to use the beam to build part of the church.
They will make sure it goes in a place where everyone can still see the image they say is the Virgin Mary.