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Wednesday, February 21, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

The Jesus Tree

"If you have faith, you see it."

CRYSTAL CITY — Consuelo Sanchez guided her 63-year-old mother, Olga, across the street, pointing to a tree near a fence line.

"That's the arm," she said, pointing to a branch yielding to the right. "That's the other arm.

"See where it's cut right there, that's his head."

The elder Sanchez nodded in agreement.

The pair was the latest to make the trip to Avenue D here Thursday afternoon to examine a pruned backyard tree that many believe resembles a crucified Jesus.

"They say something like this doesn't happen just anywhere," the 38-year-old daughter said. "To me, it's a sign."

The Sanchezes stood under the tree for several minutes, studying both the tree and the handful of pictures and notes that have been left behind the past few days after the image of Jesus was first spotted in the gnarled limbs by Betty Jo Hernandez.

Hernandez, 31, took a photo of the tree and shared it with co-workers at an elementary school where she works. Many agreed they could see the image of Jesus on the cross, and from there, it spread across town and beyond, fueled over the past two days by news media reports.

Hundreds have since visited the site, leaving behind mementos and flowers, mostly roses. A row of candles sits on the ground.

But not everyone can see it.

"If you have faith, you see it," said 44-year-old Lupe Granados, who traveled from nearby Big Wells to see the tree. "If you don't, you don't."

The owners of the property where the tree stands did not answer a knock at the door and neighbors said they are trying to keep a low profile.

Thursday night, the faithful continued to come, sometimes in droves, lining the short residential street with vehicles.

Many came with their camera-equipped cell phones in hand, ready to snap a picture.

"It's weird, right?" Granados asked. "It has been here forever and not until now has someone seen it."