Homeowners must remove structure housing Virgin Mary - CTV News
WINDSOR, Ont. — The owner of a Virgin Mary statue that she says smiles during the day and weeps at night has been ordered to either get a permit for the structure housing it, or remove it.
Fadia Ibrahim, an Orthodox Catholic who lives in Windsor, Ont., said the crying statue is "a miracle from Virgin Mary" and "a work of God."
But city officials said miracle or not, the structure doesn't meet regulations.
Ibrahim said she put up the statue about three months ago, after having a vision from the Virgin Mary.
"Tell the people to go back to the church and remember my son," Mary told her in the vision, she said.
The 1.5-metre statue of the Virgin, standing in a blue dress with arms outstretched, smiles during the day, said Ibrahim. At night, the eyes turn red and shed tears of oil, she said.
Each week hundreds of people have been making pilgrimages to the porcelain statue, which is housed inside a glassed-in structure on Ibrahim's front lawn on Garvey Crescent, she said.
They come to pray with their rosaries for a couple of minutes, Ibrahim said, estimating about 70 visitors each day and at least 50 most nights.
Some visitors have come from the Greater Toronto Area while others have flocked to the site from Florida, Michigan and Ohio, she said.
Some bring flowers. But Ibrahim said she put up a sign telling people not to leave money.
Some of those who visited received a marvellous gift, she said.
"Some people got healed," Ibrahim said, giving the examples of at least one cancer patient and a heart patient.
But not everyone shares the fervour. The attraction of the religious faithful has raised the ire of some of Ibrahim's neighbours, who complained to the city.
"Now I got a problem with the neighbours, with the city and at the same time it's a miracle," she said.
Windsor's chief building official said the city received its first complaint -- a petition with eight signatures -- on Oct. 13.
Lee Anne Doyle said traffic, noise and questions about whether a permit was obtained were the basis of the complaint.
The city's issue isn't with the statue, but with the structure containing it, said Doyle. It's made of glass, vinyl and shingles and resembles a bus shelter, she said.
According to the city, the required $75 building permit was not obtained for the structure, which is attached to the north side of Ibrahim's house. The small addition also encroaches into the required front lawn of the property in violation of a city zoning bylaw.
Ibrahim was ordered to obtain the permit or remove or relocate the structure by Nov. 19.
Doyle said the homeowner was advised she could obtain a minor variance from the city to keep the structure in its current location, but it would cost about $1,400.
A public consultation and an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board would also be needed, she said.
The city is willing to work with homeowner to resolve the issue, added Doyle.
Ibrahim said she doesn't want to accept donations to seek the variance because the money would go to the city.
Instead, she said, she might offer the statue to her church.
Maye she did have a vision and the vision told her to do this..... but did she buy the statue from someone? Did she make it herself? Or did God actually make the statue and dropped it from the sky for her to use?
For me personally, I've always been a supporter of people making or putting up whatever they want on their own property and homes.... most of this zoning and permit crap is BS to grab a bit more money for the city or town imo..... and thus, generally speaking, I think she should be allowed to have this display in her yard if she so wanted.
But when it crosses the line is when you have 70 some odd people coming every day to visit this thing for whatever reason..... that to me starts to sound like a church, town hall or a food canteen...... something I doubt her neighbors agreed to deal with when she or they moved into that area. As far as I know, it's a residential area, and I doubt people enjoy having these people parking along the street or otherwise blocking traffic in the area so they can say a few prayers...... or noise, etc.
I don't have an issue with her putting out the statue for all to see.... the problem is with all the people who come to see it every single day.