A charlatan, not Virgin Mary, stirred in Denton, diocese suggests video shows

A rose by any other name — fraud, perhaps — may smell as sweet, but what about its provenance?

Petals found last month on the floor and couch at a “pro-life assistance center” in Denton had an earthly explanation and were not a signal that the Virgin Mary was checking in.

The reality was revealed in surveillance video released by the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth.

At the petals’ discovery, a woman attending Eucharistic adoration at Loreto House on the night of July 27 suggested to administrators that the flowers were apparitions and gifts from the Virgin Mary.

Administrators reported that during adoration, the woman said she had experienced an apparition that included rose petals falling from a book she was using to record the words from the Virgin Mary, the diocese wrote in a statement.

Three roses were later found in a hall, counseling room and, early on July 28, a classroom.

Images from a camera show the woman releasing a petal from her hand as she walks from one end of the room to the other.

“Diocesan officials reviewed the security videos provided by Loreto House administrators and verified that the so-called apparition and the rose ‘gift’ the woman allegedly experienced ... were indeed fabricated and not true,” the diocese said in the statement.

The diocese did not use the woman’s name in its materials. She appears to write of the Loreto House incident on a website called “Our Lady Mystical Rose of Argyle” and refers to a motive.

“After a recent severe demonic attack in which demons influenced the visionary to act in such a way as to potentially discredit the messages, the visionary immediately sought the counsel of a holy priest and bishop who confirmed the deception as being of demonic origin and also gave assurance that the messages were authentic and of God,” a message on the website says.

Bishop Michael Olson and the woman have not met since the petal affair. The bishop sought a meeting with the woman that she agreed to and then canceled, the diocese said.

“I ask that you pray for the healing and conversion of all involved in these matters that have brought about discord and disunity where there should be peace and communion,” Olson wrote in a letter to clergy and parishioners.

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Emerson Clarridge covers crime and other breaking news for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He works evenings and reports on law enforcement affairs in Tarrant County. He previously was a reporter at the Omaha World-Herald and the Observer-Dispatch in Utica, New York.