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Judging the cover, not the book

I can’t begin to imagine how many copies of Wayne Weible’s first book on Medjugorje has sold over the years. It’s a classic and proved to be an inspiration for many to tread the path to Medjugorje and live the messages.


The cover is also a stopper! However, is it really the Blessed Virgin Mary depicted on the front? The straight answer is yes, but not of Our Lady in apparition, as many people suppose. And yes, there are stories circulating relating to the ‘miraculous’ image and how it appeared in some person’s camera – a nun, I’m told.


I don’t think Wayne held a precise view on this. From what I understand it was given to him and he felt it would be an ideal image for the cover of his book, Medjugorje The Message.


The fact that there are differing accounts as to the origin of the image was enough for me to consider that it may not supernatural as believed by many, but perhaps an existing image, tweaked here and there to give the impression of being of another world. Why do all the supposed ‘miraculous’ images of Our Lady appear blurred, out of focus and mysterious, and never sharp or precise?


The image on the cover of Wayne’s book is pretty washed out, of high contrast and clipped at the right eye. Was this the full frame or was it cropped by the publisher or designer to fit? It all adds to the mystery. What colour remains is intense; bright red lips, a hint of blue eyes and a caucasian skin tone. And of course, there is the customary head dress. Her eyes are focused on the viewer but her expression is somewhat vague, even nondescript. The light source is from above, somewhere to the left and face on. Notice the direction and length of the shadow formed under the nose; and see how the light falls on her protruding chin.


So if it is not a supernatural image where did it come from. Who, what or where is the original source?


One of the many benefits of the internet and Google is the ability to search and gather information very quickly, even images. There are thousands of images depicting the Virgin Mary (she must be the most painted female subject in history!) Images supposedly captured on cameras are never a match for some of the most beautiful and inspired paintings produced through the centuries.


It didn’t take long to discover some images that could possibly be matched with Wayne’s cover picture, but one in particular stood out – an image of the Immaculate Heart (right) which may have originated as an illustration for a prayer card, possibly out of Italy.


There are some remarkable similarities, particularly the angle of the head, the shaped lines of the head dress, the light source, the shadow formation. Now all that was needed was for some tweaking with the aid of Photoshop, and not a major task to manipulate the tones and reproduce the bleached look. The result, though amazing, is not surprising. There are slight variations but we have to take into account that the tweaking is performed on two different versions of the same image. But the structure is the same and Wayne’s book cover and the manipulated image by my hand is from the same original source. To every cow its calf...


There is another similar image in circulation (right). I don’t know the background to this other than it appeared in a book on Medjugorje. I have never seen it in a book myself, but the image was kindly sent to me, a drawing which is also a likeness to the image for Wayne’s book. Now whether it was Wayne’s book cover that inspired the drawing or the prayer card image, I can’t say. But it was certainly produced by hand.

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