Row Over 'Miraculous' Image on Underpass

A stain on the wall of an expressway underpass that some believe resembles the Virgin Mary (search) is again attracting visitors after two car wash employees cleaned graffiti and brown paint off the image.

Rosa Diaz and Anna Reczek used a degreaser to clean the wall Friday on their lunch break.

Onlookers said they again could see the Virgin Mary. The Illinois Department of Transportation (search) has said the stain was likely the result of salt runoff on the emergency turnoff area under the Kennedy Expressway (search).

A man had scrawled the words "Big Lie" in shoe polish on the image Thursday night, and authorities charged Victor Gonzalez of Chicago with criminal damage to state-supported property, a misdemeanor.

Gonzalez, 37, told relatives he believed visitors were worshipping a graven image in violation of the Second Commandment, said Mandy Gonzalez, who identified herself as Gonzalez's niece.

On Friday, Chicago police directed transportation workers to paint over the image with brown paint for safety reasons.

Hundreds of people have flocked to the underpass since last month to see the image. Some leave devotional candles, take snapshots or kneel in prayer before the wall. Others approach the image, touch it and make the sign of the cross.