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Sunday, December 5, 2004; Page C11

Was It Made With Miracle Whip?

Will a grilled cheese sandwich bearing a likeness of the Virgin Mary meet the Roman Catholic church's criteria of a divine apparition?

Not likely, says a spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, noting that the sandwich, which sold for $28,000 on eBay last week, has yet to be investigated by the Archdiocese of Miami, the jurisdiction in which the purported miracle occurred.

Diana Duyser took a bite out of her sandwich and saw "the Virgin Mary staring back at me." (Joe Rimkus Jr. -- Miami Herald Via AP)

_____On Faith_____
Preaching by Committee (The Washington Post, Dec 5, 2004)
Do You Believe in Guardian Angels? (The Washington Post, Dec 5, 2004)
A Church on a Cultural Divide (The Washington Post, Nov 7, 2004)
Should Roman Catholic Priests Be Allowed to Marry? (The Washington Post, Nov 7, 2004)
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"If the local bishop determined it had merit," spokesman Bill Ryan told the Miami Herald, "it would go to the Vatican for a final pronouncement by the Holy See."

But such merit has not been determined, and there's no precedent for authenticating an image of the Holy Mother -- as there is for a physical appearance, Ryan said. Vatican-approved apparitions include one in Lourdes, France, where Mary appeared in 1858 to a young girl, and one in Fatima, Portugal, where Mary appeared to three children in 1917.

Diana Duyser, a resident of Hollywood, Fla., made the sandwich a decade ago and, after taking a bite, saw "the Virgin Mary staring back at me," she said. Duyser kept the sandwich in a plastic container beside her bed before selling it last week to GoldenPalace.com, an online casino.

About 1.7 million people logged onto eBay to look at the sandwich before the Nov. 22 auction.

Care and Feeding of Body and Soul

A survey of churchgoers shows that people who attend religious functions regularly are more likely to include the healthiest fruits and vegetables in their diets than those who don't.

The study, released last month by St. Louis University School of Public Health researcher Deidre Griffith, found that regular attendees eat 26 percent more "powerhouse" fruits and vegetables -- those that contain the most nutrients. They include dark, leafy greens such as spinach, broccoli and cauliflower and bright-orange carrots and cantaloupe.

Many of the 315 people interviewed for the study said they attended choir rehearsals, Bible study groups and workshops. Griffith said that healthy food options were often present at these events.

"Church can be a big part of your support system for changing your diet," she said in her report.

British Muslims and the Bard

British Muslims have invoked an unlikely figure in their campaign for religious tolerance -- English poet and playwright William Shakespeare.

Despite being Christian and dead for nearly 400 years, the bard was at the center of last month's Muslim Awareness Week, which highlights the contribution Britain's 1.8 million Muslims have made to society.

As part of the campaign, colorful images of Islamic culture were projected onto the outer walls of the Globe, an open-air replica of a Shakespearean theater on the banks of the Thames, Reuters reported. The theater also hosted an Arabic souk (marketplace) and a reading of "Othello," Shakespeare's famous tragedy about a Moorish nobleman who fights for Christian Venice.

Shakespeare's plays are "not about a world in which you are either 'with us or against us,' " said Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, a Muslim scholar from California, who lectured on Shakespeare and Islam. The playwright "refuses to indulge in those cartoon caricatures of right and wrong. His plays are too complex for that."

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