Photos of what many religious people are describing as a detailed representation of Jesus Christ discovered inside the branch of a recently-pruned willow tree have gone viral in Brazil.
Last Thursday, while pruning a willow tree in Itaquiraí, Brazil’s Mato Grosso do Sul, municipal maintenance workers noticed a strange pattern on the inside of a branch they had just cut with a chainsaw. After examining the pattern, some of them were convinced that it was a natural representation of Jesus Christ. Odimar Souza, a civil servant who was overseeing the pruning operation on Monte Castelo Avenue, in the Monte Castelo neighborhood, was intrigued by the discovery and took a piece of the branch home with him.
After taking a couple of photos of the pattern, Souza uploaded them to his social media pages, along with a short story of how it was discovered. Apparently, as he was cutting the willow branch, one of the workers noticed a “butterfly-like” design, but just before he could finish his work, the chain of the chainsaw broke. “After changing the chain, we cut this same trunk in two pieces and that was when this perfection appeared,” the Itaquiraí civil servant wrote.
Photos of the cut branch and the intriguing figure found inside of it have been doing the rounds on Brazilian social media for the last week and getting mixed feedback. While some believe that the pattern truly represents Jesus Christ and is some sort of message to stop our sinful ways, or to assure us that He is watching over us in these troubled times, others think it’s just an abstract shape.
“This is a sign! Read the Bible!” one Facebook user commented
“Perfect representation! God manifests in all forms!,” wrote another.
On the opposite end of the spectrum were comments like “People, that’s Voldemort!” or “It’s just a stain. Get back to work, thank you, you’re welcome!”
The Itaquiraí parish has so far declined to comment on this debate, and one biologist says that there are several scientific explanations for the “divine” pattern. Fabiano Izidoro told G1 Globo that the stain could be linked to a possible injury to the cells of this plant during its growth, or to chemical elements that it has absorbed at some point.
“That is why it is necessary to see where this plant grew, in what type of soil, what nutrients it has absorbed,” the Brazilian biologist said.
As for the association with Jesus Christ, Izidoro is convinced that it is a classic example of pareidolia phenomenon, “the tendency for incorrect perception of a stimulus as an object, pattern or meaning known to the observer”.
“This is very similar when we look at the sky and through a cloud we can see some figure,” he explained.