Our Lady of the Rock - Remote desert location outside of California City, California

Hundreds--and occasionally thousands--of people flock to Our Lady of the Rock in the Mojave Desert on the 13th day of each month. They seek blessings and healings from Maria Paula, who encountered the Virgin Mother while praying at the site in 1989, and hope to see their own vision of the Virgin Mary.

Looking around, and noting the barren landscape and general proximity to nothing at all, I thought that we may have already experienced a small miracle in finding the location. Men were setting up a sound system near a small wooden structure marking the center of the gathering.  Attached to a white picket fence were dozens of colorful streamers that marked the enclosure. Inside the structure, or altar, sat a statue of the Virgin Mary surrounded by flowers. 

Despite the position of the Catholic Church (that the event is due to someone's imagination but not bad will), flocks of faithful believers, including Paula, return each month. We met a family who had traveled three hours to come to OLOTR. The parents had first come to OLOTR before anyone knew about it and they spoke of their first sighting of the Virgin Mary: Two storm clouds blew in from opposite directions and when they converged, the clouds split, a bright light appeared, and the Virgin was standing within the clouds. They said everyone there saw it.

We heard a great number of stories that day. From healings to prophecies to sightings of the Virgin Mary. But our experience was rather un-miraculous. We witnessed the rosary service, the procession of a statue of Christ, the blessings by Paula, and people taking pictures of the sun. But the only thing out of the ordinary was one woman who broke out in loud cries during the service, and had to be taken to the back of the group. She might have been overcome by the Holy Spirit, but she may also have bee­n struggling with some serious issues. Or possibly, she was overcome by the heat. We were, remember, in the middle of the Mojave Desert at midday.