|the HOLY: always present - seen or unseen
Charlotte’s Shadow Behind Mary’s Statue: reported on Spirit Daily (photo missing)
(to see the other missing photos: Mary with the Golden Shadows)
The above is a collage of Charlotte, and her little shadow location, seen in the close-ups, behind the
statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. And then there were more: over the next year,
other shadows of deceased family members were also found as shadows behind this Statue of Mary:
On October 13, 2006 while preparing to pray the Holy Rosary with Mother Angelica on EWTN and
thinking, today, Charlotte, my baby granddaughter, would have been 6 months old had she lived.
This day was also the day after my brother’s death. How very fitting for someone who had made
rosaries to have died on October 12, the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar.
My whole family was in mourning. My own little family was meeting at Charlotte’s tomb at Holy
Cross Cemetery at 3pm so I had time to say the Rosary. As I was praying in front of the statue of
Our Holy Mother with the nuns of the Angels’ Monastery just after 11:30 am, my eyes wondered to
the side of the statue and rested on a little too familiar shadow on the wall. Charlotte! She was still
fresh on my mind since June and here she was on the wall behind Our Lady. My mind couldn't
register what I was seeing! Charlotte! My granddaughter's little baby face was on the wall behind
Holy Mother. It looked like our favourite picture my son had sent to UCDs family magazine with the
story, but in black and white.
Charlotte Elizabeth Gentile had died four months earlier on June 14, 2006. She was born with a
missing chromosome, needed to digest protein, creating the fatal Urea Cycle Disorder (UCD). She
lived only 2 months. Her formidable character affected anyone who came in contact with her. She
was born on April 13, Holy Thursday night and lived a normal baby life on Good Friday. Later I
came to look at this as a gift from Charlotte for allowing me this one day to continue with The Way
of the Cross play at St. Mary’s, my church here in Brampton. The next morning Holy Saturday, I
had just finished the Congratulations Michael and Sabina and Welcome Charlotte posters and
would be going to see my first baby granddaughter when the shattering phone call came from my
son not to come because Charlotte was in a coma. Our family friend and Pastor of St. Wilfrid’s in
Toronto, Fr. Massi Lombardi baptized Charlotte on Easter Sunday. And for two months her
maternal grandparents and I visited daily with her parents until the day came when we were called
in for our goodbyes.
Two weeks before, on Pentecost, the little statue was given to me on behalf of St. Mary's Parish. It
had been ordered before Christmas with the larger outdoor statue of the Immaculate Conception. Fr.
Larry Marcille, the then Pastor, told me that Bishop Lacey had blessed the little white statue! It was
well known that he himself had been healed with the waters of Lourdes.
It had become a tradition at St. Mary’s that the children and youths would honour all Three Persons
of the Holy Trinity, God the Father at Thanksgiving in thanksgiving, God the Son, with The Way of
the Cross on Good Friday, a re-enactment of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday and, since our
parish children would honour the Holy Spirit on Pentecost which happened to coincide with the visit
by our Regional Bishop John Boissonneau, the little 2-foot statue would be presented to me then.
This was June 4, and on June 14, 2006, Charlotte would be in Heaven.
Four months later, Charlotte came for a visit to earth, and stayed as a shadow imprint behind the
statue of Our Holy Mother. I was saying the Holy Rosary in front of this little white statue when my
eyes wondered to the right and there on the wall was a perfect shadow of baby Charlotte! Charlotte?
How could this be? What a surprise! What silence with such profound joy. I stood with my rosary in
hand and just looked. I didn’t tell anyone at first, not even her parents that day at the mausoleum,
because I didn’t know what to make of it, or how to explain it.
When I eventually recovered from the unexpected encounter, and resigned to her presence, there,
on the wall, I took pictures of the little shadow but nothing showed up on the camera. I knew it! It
was not real or it could not be photographed. But within 2 weeks my youngest, Robert passed by,
saw it and believed: Oh yeah! That's Charlotte! Her parents could see her as did the few who came
to visit. Then one day, in conversation I mentioned that I was disappointed in my new camera
because the flash blanched the true colour of flowers in close-up photos. My niece Laura suggested
I remove the flash. I didn’t know there was this option. On the way home, I thought…Charlotte’s
shadow! She had been on my wall for months. If I found how to remove the flash, I might be able to
take a picture of the Charlotte Shadow! My daughter showed me and in March 2007, there was
Charlotte’s shadow in the picture!!!
Reviewing how this little baby shadow came to be on the wall, at that exact spot and all the
conditions and events that took place for this to happen was a feat in logistics that occurs only in
God-incidences. If this were a movie, pressing fast forward would create this map of my movements:
1. Finding a place for Mary: For the first four months, I tried to find the right place for Mary’s
statue. I tried different set-ups. A side table was too low. Then I found the perfect wooden pedestal
at the front door, brought it into the foyer, fitting well under the semi-circular stairway and placed
Mary on it. It really was perfect.
2. Finding the ornate wreath: At the end of September I went to the Church Bazaar sponsored
by the Catholic Women’s League, and brought home a creamy beige wrought iron circle decorated
with leaves and swirls. I loved it but didn’t know what it was for so I thought I might just put it on
the wall. I held up the circular ornament and placed it in front of me to see where and on which wall
I would put it. Yes! Why didn't I think of it! The wrought iron design fit perfectly as an ornament
behind Mary’s Statue. If I had tried to order it, it would never have been this perfect.
3. Finding a way to position the ornament behind the statue: Attaching the circle to the wall
would make a hole in the plaster if and when I decided to rearrange everything. Putting a nail into
the wood above the statue would ruin the staircase. I found twine string that blended in with the
neutral colours and the carpet. I lifted the circle gently behind the statue and moved it around until I
had the length of the string at the right height behind the statue, but it still couldn’t be done because
the stair post I was using didn’t match up with where it should hang. Maybe long floral staples
would help. I wrapped the string around the horseshoe-like pins and inserted the thin ends into the
space between the wood and molding to center the circle ornament from where it hung a bit to the
side. It worked! The circle and Mary fit beautifully together.
4. Having a window above the stairway: The shadow would not have been made at all
without the window above the entranceway. The light shone into the two-story atrium. Had I placed
Mary’s Statue anywhere else in the house, the ornate circle behind her would not likely produce a
shadow, weather permitting; it seems to be at its best in the near noon hour/holy hour, in the
afternoon. Nor would there be a shadow behind the ornament if it had been fitted on a flat wall. The
ornament hangs slightly away from the wall because of the stairway ledge.
Post Script: I never realized until a year later that the day I saw Baby Charlotte’s Shadow, October
13, 2006, was the last day of the Marian Apparitions to the children of Fatima and the day of the
great miracle remembered forever as the day the sun danced; the day of the full public manifestation
of heaven that proved Mary had truly come to visit earth. And that's the day Charlotte also came
down to visit earth too following her Holy Mother's footsteps. Thank you Holy Mother and
Charlotte, thank you for leaving us this beautiful sign of love for your parents on earth
Michael & Sabina, your two sisters Fiona and Caroline and for all our of families.