This from the NY Times website --WEST NEW YORK, N.J. — Dante Domenech held his leather-bound Bible in front of him on Sunday morning and shouted at the throng of people kneeling, making the sign of the cross and weeping at the base of a Ginkgo biloba tree with a strange knot that they believe resembles the Virgin Mary.
“This is witchcraft; you are worshiping devils!” bellowed Mr. Domenech, 50, of North Bergen, N.J.
That remark prompted Maria Cole, one of dozens of people from West New York and nearby who had come to pray and lay flowers and votive candles by the tree, to charge at Mr. Domenech.
“We don’t want Satan!” Ms. Cole, 57, shouted in Spanish as a 90-year-old woman with a long-stemmed white rose walked up and hit Mr. Domenech on the head and shoulders with the flower until three police officers asked him to move along. (The flower-wielder gave her age, but not her name.)
At the site of what some believe is a miracle, prayers of the faithful and shouts of the skeptical have grown louder as word of the tree’s distinctive knot has spread since its discovery this month. Mayor Felix Roque said the town was spending $1,000 a day for police officers to prevent vandalism of the tree, defuse confrontations and keep traffic moving on the busy strip of Bergenline Avenue between 60th and 61st Streets.
Those gathered at the tree on Sunday say that the passion over the knot, which is about four feet up on the flagpole-size trunk, comes from its resemblance to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Roman Catholics in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America believe that the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego, an Aztec convert to Catholicism, in the 16th century. According to tradition, she filled his cloak with roses and left an image of herself on it. That image — the name Guadalupe comes from a shrine — has long been a powerful religious and cultural symbol that resonates among immigrants and children of immigrants in the United States. Many say that a dark outline around the edge of the knot depicts the cloak the Virgin Mary wore when she first appeared in the New World.