OAXACA, Mexico — The Lord works in mysterious ways. In 1531 the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to a peasant named Juan Diego on a hillside on the outskirts of Mexico City — a "miracle" that helped the Catholic Church convert thousands in the Aztec nation.
Now Jesus has returned…in the form of a tortilla.
That's according to Enedina Mendoza, who makes tlayudas, crispy corn tortillas served with toppings, in the town Tlalixtac de Cabrera, in the southern state of Oaxaca. She says Jesus appeared to her in a tortilla earlier this month.
The apparition occurred just days before the annual party to honor the patron saint of the village Santiago Apostol. Mendoza says she initially decided not to attend the festivities, prompting an argument with her pious sister.
As the two women argued, Mendoza says she noticed one of her tortillas was refusing to brown. Upon closer examination, she saw the face of Jesus looking back at her from the tortilla. She snatched it up from the hot oil and proclaimed, “I have Jesus Christ in my hands, I have Jesus Christ in my hands!”
Mendoza is one of thousands of people who claim to have witnessed a religious apparition. In recent years, the face of Jesus has been seen around the globe in everything from a Cheeto and piece of toast, to a dumpling, a frying pan, an orange, and even a dog’s behind.
According to some skeptics and psychologists, the apparitions are related to a phenomenon called pareidolia, when a vague visual or sound stimuli is perceived as a known image or sound. Seeing images in planets, clouds, trees, shadows are usually people's minds playing tricks on them, making correlations and associations with images they already know. They are unmistakably powerful experiences for the Christian faithful.
Mexico, being a devoutly Catholic country, has had many recorded apparitions of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. There’s also been numerous claims of virgin figurines crying blood.
Mendoza believes the appearance she witnessed was a clear sign from God telling her to attend the town’s religious festivals.
The miraculous tortilla is now enshrined on an altar in her house, on display for free for all to come see and pay their respects. Mendoza claims she won’t sell it and from now on will look twice before biting into a tlayuda.
Photographs by Chema Alvarez