No rest in the quest for Coogee's holy rail
Beam me up ... Followers of the Coogee Virgin Mary want a chapel built on the beachside reserve where they believe she appeared after the Bali bombing tragedy. Two years after the apparition of the Virgin Mary was first spied through the front door of a laundrette, pilgrims of the Coogee Madonna are lobbying to have a chapel built on the beachside reserve.
Mary may have slipped from popular imaginings but not even the Catholic Church's dispassion has quenched the fervour of her followers, who tend to a makeshift garden shrine by the white fence post from which she is said to appear.
No fewer than three academic papers have delved into the Mary apparition at Coogee, first reported in January 2003 at Dolphins Reserve, at the northern end of Coogee Beach.
Jenny Veselcic, from western Sydney, journeys two hours every Tuesday to the shrine, her original visit prompted by a vision in her bedroom.
"I promised God and Mother Mary I would follow her," she says, clutching a well-thumbed prayer book containing holy pictures, and pressed rose petals from which she sees the faces of Mary, Jesus and the angels. She says she has seen a vision of a blue veiled Mary while praying at Coogee.
Dr Carole Cusack, senior lecturer in religious studies at the University of Sydney, said it was no coincidence the apparition grew in popularity as the world prepared for the Iraq war.
"Pilgrims to Coogee are joining in an age-old religious practice, older than Christianity, and it functions to alleviate stress experienced by the community" (Morris, "Sydney Morning Herald," February 5, 2005 ).