Special Report By Daniel Román
Visitors to the Philadelphia Museum of Art are hopeful to catch a glimpse of more than just their favorite artworks, as a ghostly presence has been spotted in recent weeks roaming the Medieval and Renaissance art section located on the second floor of the museum. Witnesses report seeing a glowing, yellow silhouette of a man fade in and out of visibility in front of various paintings.
Last month witnesses saw an unexplained swarm of butterflies sporadically appear in the museum and cluster around the 1467 altarpiece painting, “Saint Thomas Receiving the Virgin’s Belt,” by Florentine artist Neri di Bicci. The painting is displayed in the same section where the glowing silhouette has been spotted. The butterfly phenomenon had a calming effect on those who experienced it. Museum security guard, Lavern Williams, 56, reported that on the days she saw the butterflies she was “overcome with bliss, being able to go home and rest with a great sense of peace.”
Similar sightings of the glowing figure, albeit with a more menacing tone, were reported back in February at the Church of the Gesù in Rome, Italy, the very same day that abnormal, heavy snowfall surprised the city.
(Chiesa Gesu Facade)
Anna Vaccaro, 44, while praying in the church, had a close encounter with the glowing being and was able to look into its eyes. “He had the most beautiful, blue eyes, like an angel, but filled with so much pain, sadness, hate, and revenge. I was overwhelmed with love and terror; I was paralyzed for those few seconds. This happened over a month ago and I haven’t been to church since!”
While repairing leaks in the church, Samuele Bernini, 24, witnessed the figure violently removing things out of a storage closet and then proceeded to reach for him. “It grabbed my head and I couldn’t move,” Samuele explained, “and I heard a man’s angry voice in my mind say he was looking for his unfinished painting. Then it disappeared.”
Other strange happenings were reported such as art students inexplicably having their drawings ripped in half when sketching in the church and roses growing from the concrete outside the church’s entrance.
There is a legend in Rome of a 14th century painter, specializing in images of Jesus, who resurrected three separate times following three individual murders; one of the killings took place while he painted. It is rumored that drawings by this individual are kept in the Vatican Secret Archives, bearing the signature “Bernardo.”
Could the spirit of this “Bernardo” be the phenomena experienced in the church in Rome and the museum in Philadelphia?
The Vatican would not comment on the reports.