A spiritual boost

Methuen woman sees likeness of Jesus on iron

By Eric Moskowitz
Globe Staff / November 28, 2009

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METHUEN - Until this week, Mary Jo Coady had never given her iron a second thought. Then she saw a likeness of Jesus staring back from its not-quite stainless steel bottom.

Startled, Coady called in her daughters, both of them college students, and they saw what she saw. Then she took a picture and posted it on her private Facebook page, giving friends and relatives the same test. Everyone saw Jesus, she said.

“So I said, ‘OK, I’m not crazy,’ ’’ recalled Coady, a 44-year-old who works as a secretary in a medical office. After a challenging couple of years in which she let her Catholic faith wane, Coady found that the image had given her a spiritual boost. So she chose to share it with some others.

“This was just a good, uplifting thing for me, and it just made me reaffirm my faith and beliefs, and I’m not embarrassed to say that,’’ Coady said yesterday. “I believe in God, and I think that was a sign saying good things will come, and things will get better.’’

Coady first saw the image Nov. 22. She told The Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence about it and was featured in yesterday’s paper; the Associated Press picked up on it, and by that afternoon a picture of Coady’s iron had appeared on more than 200 news websites. It generated dozens of anonymous comments, and the jeering tone of many of them caught her by surprise.

Coady is not trying to persuade others to see Jesus where she does.

Five years ago this week, a grilled cheese sandwich that looked like a popular image of the Virgin Mary sold for $28,000 on eBay. Coady said she has no plans to market her iron similarly. She does not want pilgrims lining up at her door. She is not listed in the local phone book.

She simply thought others of faith might want to see an image that surprised her, cheered her, and made her want to return to St. Lucy, her Catholic parish, after a difficult two years. During that stretch, Coady separated from her husband; moved out of the home they owned and where they had raised their family; watched her hours get trimmed at work; and unpacked slowly in the rented two-family house where she now resides with her daughters, up against Route 110.

“I’m not telling anybody they’re going to be cured or anything if they look at my iron,’’ Coady said. “It’s just a nice story to share.’’

Coady’s pastor at St. Lucy, the Rev. Thomas E. Keyes, has not viewed the iron. He said he considers the power of such images to be personal, residing in individual inference and belief.

“I think it’s how we interpret things. It’s more of a personal thing. God works in his or her own way,’’ said Keyes, who believes that God or saints might choose to appear “in person, as opposed to on a toaster, or a cinnamon roll or a Frito, or whatever. But then, God does what it wants.’’ A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston did not comment yesterday.

Coady’s iron is otherwise unremarkable: manufactured for the Wal-Mart house brand, with a basic dial for fabric settings and a steam/dry switch.

She never used it much, but her 20-year-old daughter, Alison, regularly used it before going to work at a local Social Security office or class at Merrimack College.

Coady first spotted the image on the bottom when the iron was angled toward the door, near Alison’s bureau, when she entered her room that Sunday.

“That was my sign that things will be good,’’ said Coady, who moved the iron to the kitchen for safekeeping. Now that Thanksgiving is over, she plans to get a practical replacement.

“It’s Black Friday. Today’s a good day to run out and buy an iron.’’